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Michael Snow
December 10, 1928 – January 5, 2023

Michael and I became, over the years, musical compatriots, never as personal friends visiting each others families, never hanging out together for a beer at Grossman’s Tavern, our local pub. Not connected to his art world except for an occaisional art show opening. I have no opinion about “Flight Stop” the flying geese strung on wires from the roof of Eaton Centre or the numerous manifestations of “Walking Woman”. Our entire relationship was formed playing music together.

Long before I would become a musical cohort of Michael’s he was already in my mind because my friend Stuart Broomer had introduced me to the music of Albert Ayler, so Michael Snow’s film “New York Eye and Ear Control” made in 1964, was part of my learning process. The film featured music of many of the musicians that were becoming my heroes: Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Roswell Rudd and John Tchicai – who I would later play with in the Dutch saxophone sextet Des Sez Winden [The Six Winds].

Fortune smiled on me a number of times in my brief musical career, allowing me to perform with many fabulous players. In the early seventies bassist Terry Forster invited me to an evening at artist Gord Rayner’s studio on Spadina Avenue, just two blocks from my house. And so began many wonderful nights with the Artists’ Jazz Band. Gordon Rayner drums, Robert Markle saxophone, Graham Coughtry trombone and on occasion Michael Snow.

n 1974 we would become founder members of the CCMC, and eventually open the Music Gallery on St. Patrick Street in Toronto. We performed there twice a week playing free improvised music. The drummer was the fabulous Larry Dubin who had been friends with and performed numerous times with Michael as far back as the sixties in Mike White’s Imperial Jazz Band.

The acronym CCMC stood for Canadian Creative Music Collective. I recall that Michael’s sense of humour encouraged a variety of possible names, among them Craven Cowards Muttering Curses, Cries Crashes Murmurs Clanks, Careless Choir Muffling Chords, Completely Canadian Monster Circus, Certified Careless Mush Concept, Clip Clop Manure Crop, Catchy Canuck Melody Convinces – all of which appeared on the liner notes of one of the lps.

On a visit to Toronto, prior to the Covid pandemic restrictions, Sheila and myself spent a superb evening in January 2019 at Arraymusic, the last time hearing Michael perform with what was the latest version of the CCMC. With Michael, the only remaining original member, playing piano/Octave Cat synthesizer, was John Oswald (alto saxophone), Paul Dutton (soundsinging/mouthharp), and John Kamevaar (percussion/electronics).



I’ve chosen music from our early days together to illustrate one of our musical collaborations. A piece from a Western Front concert in Vancouver with myself playing alto saxophone, Michael piano and Larry Dubin drums on March 16th 1976.


Goodbye Michael
Rest In Peace
bill smith January 9th, 2023


End Notes
New York Eye and Ear Control
Artists’ Jazz Band
Larry Dubin

Bill Smith can be contacted at classicimprov@yahoo.ca

The images can be enlarged with a double-click