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Jane Bunnett • In Dew Time

Winter 1987/1988

Over the past decade or so, Toronto has developed a new reputation in the international world of music. Although historically there has always been the idea that Toronto was a “jazz” city, what has now evolved is on a more elevated plane than the previous idea of the local rhythm section supporting the invited American star. This period has in fact developed into a community of improvisers and composers who are more inclined toward specific projects with the foreign musicians. Mostly in the later part of the seventies and early eighties, events included the likes of Gunter Christmann, Julius Hemphill, Roscoe Mitchell, Paul Rutherford, Peter Kowald, Joe McPhee and Leo Smith, the latter two resulting in recordings being released. This was not only to invite the “guest star”, but also to elevate our knowledge of the music, and to assist on many levels in the development of our own art by working in an area that we had developed as an original art form in our own community, and could enlarge by working with musicians that had different experiences than our own.

Although there are not a large number of musicians trying to make this idea occur, the few that do exist are a devoted and serious force. The musicians that come to mind immediately are Tim Brady for his projects, mostly to do with orchestras utilizing Gil Evans and Kenny Wheeler; Paul Cram for his orchestra project with alto saxophonist Julius Hemphill that resulted in a very fine recording (“Beyond Benghazi”, Apparition A-0987-8), and Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer inviting Don Pullen, Dewey Redman and Vincent Chauncey to join their quartet with drummer Claude Ranger and bassist Scott Alexander.

The story continues with the three American visitors invited to participate in a concert held at the BamBoo Club on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West. It will also, in a few months, be realized as the first recording to appear on Serge Sloimovits’ newly formed label, DarkLight. I was fortunate enough to be present at both the live performance and the two day recording session that followed.

t the studio the music which in its raw exuberance the previous night had excited everyone to such an extent, was more finely tuned, as would be expected on a record, without losing, and in some cases enhancing its quality, illustrating that if the players and organizers are serious about their ventures, then it matters not if the artists come from Canada or America, only that they should all be doing it for the same purpose. The continuation of our fantastic art.

The winter season has unfolded in a wondrous manner for the contemporary music scene in Toronto. The two most important venues being Clinton’s and Sneaky Dees, both located in my own neighbourhood of Bloor Street West. The clubs have been elevated to this position, not by the owners, indeed it is with some surprise that we find them “allowing” music of this kind to be presented in their venues. In the case of the Clinton, where music of an improvised nature can be heard almost every night, events organised by Serge Sloimovits, who is fast becoming a major force as a promoter of jazz music, and indeed is the owner of the aforementioned DarkLight Record company. At Sneaky Dees, on Monday nights only, the music directed by Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer.

Between the Clinton and Sneaky Dees, there has been an interesting assortment of music presented, from the Monk project, featuring saxophonists Jane Fair and Jane Bunnett, the presentation of saxophonist Bob Mover, a big band project that I myself directed, Roger Turner and Phil Minton on tour from England (this produced by Mike Dyer), and a trombone project organized by Tom Walsh, featuring Michael Vlatkovich. There has been more than enough original creative music to keep everyone engaged. Bill Smith

[The complete article of the Toronto Avant Garde appeared in Coda Magazine – Issue 254 [April/May 1988]

End Notes:

The photographs are by your truly… William E. [Bill] Smith









Thank you Michael McNamara for the loan of the CD

In Dew Time can be heard and purchased at…

New York Duets with Don Pullen

Current Project: Jane Bunnett & Maqueque

Further information about Jane Bunnett


Comments can be sent to classicimprov@yahoo.ca
A click, then another click enlarges the photographs.