Melody, pulse, interplay. Vintage jazz at its best!
Among the grand daddies of Canadian jazz musicians. These cats learned to play the traditional way and it wasn’t at school. Melody, pulse, interplay. Vintage jazz at its best!
In his 80’s, Art Ellefson is a fluent improviser with a fine sense of bop nuances, and known as a good balladeer, bringing depth and understanding to his solos. He’s played with many of the greats of jazz. He lived in England and worked as a in touring bands where he played with Ronnie Ross, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Ted Heath, with legendary British composer John Dankworth and internationally renowned vocalist Cleo Laine and more! He was an active studio musician. One of his studio gigs was on the Beatles “White Album”!
Born in 1932, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Ellefson began playing tenor saxophone in his mid-teens, having first played brass instruments. Beginning his career in Toronto with Bobby Gimby, he played professionally in Canada but became best known after he moved to the UK in the early 50’s where he played soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones and clarinet in many British dance bands.
In London he played with a succession of leading musicians, including Carl Barriteau and Harry Hayes, then joined Vic Lewis.
During the late 50s he played with modern small groups alongside musicians such as Ronnie Ross and Allan Ganley and was a member of Woody Herman’s Anglo-American Herd. He then played again with Lewis and also with John Dankworth, and spent some time with the Ted Heath band. The early and mid-60s found him again with Ross and playing with Maynard Ferguson. He then based himself for some time in Bermuda, occasionally playing in the USA and the UK.
Ellefson moved in 1969 to Bermuda, and returned to Canada in 1974, where he played tenor saxophone with Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six until 1977, appearing occasionally thereafter with his own groups in Toronto. He moved to Courtenay, British Columbia in 1988, taught at Malaspina College in Nanaimo and formed a quartet, called Modus, that included his son Lee, a guitarist. Ellefson appears on LPs by Woody Herman (Woody Herman and his Anglo-American Herd - 1959, Jazz Groove 004), Phil Nimmons and Kenny Wheeler; along with extensive British recordings with John Dankworth. He recorded three of his own CDs during the 1980’s. Tom Flannigan is featured on one of his recordings.
Dick Smith’s first love was the music of Chopin as he learned piano. Then he discovered a English saxophone player, the progressive jazz of George Shearing, got invited to play and gig and got paid money! After a year in the music program at University of Victoria, Smith decided being a band teacher was not for him, but performing certainly was. From there, except for nine months at Berklee School of Music in Boston, he played saxophone and piano with rhythm and blues, jazz and other popular music with groups, dance/performances and solo in clubs and restaurants around Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax. He was featured on C.B.C. Radio’s Jazz Beat hosted by Katie Malloch. Before moving to Gabriola about three years ago, Dick was active performing in the Victoria area and teaching privately on Saltspring Island and in Langford.
Dick sums it up, “I love to play for people, but I don’t like to rehearse much. … I never really enjoyed musicians just playing for musicians … jam sessions. … I do like to play for people, and I like to play right at them, and I’m delighted if I can of something really cool and lay it on somebody … it delights me.”
Steve Smith won a Downbeat scholarship to and attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He has worked principally as musical director in the orchestra pits for Toronto and North American touring theatrical shows – the likes of Cats, Crazy For You, The Lion King, Showboat, South Pacific, Tommy, Phantom of the Opera, Singin’ in The Rain, Que Sera (Doris Day Story), Godspell and many more. Among the “star shows” he has worked as musical director or pianist for Shirley Jones, Richard Hayman (of Boston Pops Fame), Bob Hope, Joan Rivers, Rich Little, Karen Kain, Hooked on Classics, along with extensive touring with Hagood Hardy. More recently he recorded a live CD at the Ontario Science Centre with his jazz trio for CJRT-FM in Toronto. Along with recording a jazz album with the Juno Nominees - Freeflight Big Band, Steve has a newish CD called Sky Blues. Steve has worked with Sam Noto, Lorne Lofsky, Pat LaBarbera, Don Englert, Michael Malone, Kathryn Moses, Gary Binsted, Dave Young, Michael Stuart, Vern Dorge, Pete Pedersen of the Harmonicats, Marty Morell’s Latin Jazz Quintet.
Sunday, Mar. 24, 2013
7:30pm, Yukon Arts Centre
Art Ellefson - tenor saxophone
Dick Smith – alto saxophone
Steve Smith – piano
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