As a piano technician, over the years I became more and more serious about seeking out the best people to learn from. Attending PTG conventions around North America I had the privilege of learning from some of the greatest technicians in the industry. With time I began to teach, and tutor, hosting local seminars, teaching and testing at regional conventions in the Northeastern US and Canada. Achieving examiner certification was a major personnel achievement for me, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to pass it on.
I am an Ottawa-based clarinet player and multi-instrumentalist. I am currently booking concerts featuring material from my first two CDs and keep busy as a freelancer performing for festivals, pit work, studios, and clubs, alongside private and corporate events. I also perform for National Arts Centre Pops concerts and cover a multitude of doubles for theatre pit orchestras. Additionally, I am also the clarinet professor for Carleton University's music department.
For 35 years, I have been immersed in a diverse and rich musical life, performing swing, jazz, theatre, orchestral, and studio. I have written music for solo, choral, duos, small ensemble, and big band. With the release of First Love, and its sequel, Encore, I partnered with the great Canadian jazz veteran Brian Browne to produce a lyrical, creative, and beautiful jazz collection of standards.
Currently, I am working on all originals for my third album, which will release early in the new year.
Some of the clients I have performed for over the last 40 years -- averaging 150 performances a year for the last 20 of those years. I have also performed in the following roles:
NAC orchestra extra player since 1996
Orpheus Theatre Pit Orchestra. 52 different show runs of 13 services each over the last 30 years including West Side Story, Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, and dozens of other runs.
Broadway Cross Canada- Motown show at the NAC.
ASNY - Les Miserable and Beauty @ the Beast show runs.
Health Arts Ontario events in retirement homes
Ottawa International Jazz Festival
As an Ottawa Symphony extra player
As a Gatineau Symphony extra player
Back-up bands and Orchestras for artists like Gladys Knight, Diane Ross, Eartha Kitt, The Temptations, The Platters, Roy Orbison, Jamie Cullumm, Peter Noone , of Herman's Hermits, and many others.
Canadian Central band of the Canadian Armed Forces extra player.
RCMP extra musician for state events.
Impression in Jazz Orchestra / Ottawa Jazz Orchestra series for the last 15 years, including much of the featured clarinet solo material from the Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Duke Ellington books.
Studio recordings and composition.
My first working gigs began at age 16 while still in high school as a rehearsal pianist for a theatre group, a little commercial work, and some events with a Dixieland band. Time was consumed with community & school bands on clarinet, saxophone, flute, and pursuing private clarinet and piano lessons. I frequented Jazz Ottawa's events sitting in regularly on Vernon Isaac's open jam sessions, eager to learn.
In 1981, I entered Ottawa University as a clarinet major. Joining the Canadian Footguards band as a saxophonist, I performed frequent public engagements with them at the Astrolabe theatre. I worked regularly with Brian Downey's big band, and small ensemble. That summer I won a position in the CGCF, performing for the changing of the Guard on Parliament daily. I was admitted into Toronto's Humber College in the fall of 1982 to study jazz.
Humber's performance-oriented program had my horns on my face round the clock. I worked with a Polka band at a German club, and various jazz club events. Upon returning to Ottawa that spring, I found myself that summer doing 5-10 gigs a week in jazz, swing, rock, blues, ethnic, and funk bands. Organizing my own swing bands I secured regular Friday- Saturday gigs at the Penguin Cafe where my two 7 piece bands "The Starlighters", and "The Savoy Swing Band", would rotate for the next 5 years.
In 1983, I remained in Ottawa to marry my wife, Manon and returned to Ottawa University to continue studying orchestral clarinet and keep the ball rolling by performing around Ottawa. Starting a family, going to school, and working urged me to seek more substantial income supplements. I always liked models, fiddling with things, had learned to overhaul my own saxophone, and started a correspondence course in piano tuning and repair back while still in high school. It was enough to find work with Ottawa Pianos and Lauzons music as a piano technician's apprentice. Individuals in the Piano Technicians Guild became instrumental in mentoring me. I grew to love the trade.
It would take 10 years to finish a music degree part-time while working as a musician and piano technician. I would play with the University Orchestra for 6 of those years. Working towards learning orchestral clarinet technique and repertoire my appreciation of orchestral work grew, and desire to pursue the excellence of sound, pitch, and musicality exercised by orchestral musicians daily became a passion. While It takes longer when immersed in so many different disciplines competing for one's energy, with time and perseverance the journey moved forward.
My bands continued to get more work. Dr. Jazz Band began hiring me, and upon Chris Portinary's retirement I took over booking that group. When the Penguin Cafe came to an end, we put our quartet in the Canadian Grill of the Chateau for 9 months. Over the coming years, Nepean Symphony hired me for numerous concerts, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra had me perform the saxophone solos for Pictures at and Exhibition, Britain's requiem, Bolero, and Lieutenant Kiji at the NAC series, and work for school concerts. The National Arts Center Orchestra has been hiring me as an extra doubler for there POPs series now for these last 20 years, playing saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet. Orpheus Theatre has me performing nearly all their 39 gigs per year in the pit on all the clarinets, saxes, and flutes. The NAC has me conducting various master classes for schools on saxophone.
My daughter has become a very fine violist, and we book wedding gigs together. Saul Gunner hires me regularly for his Classic Klez group for Jewish events, and Flora Love for "The Ottawa Klezmer Band." For two decades now, my jazz groups have been featured in the Ottawa International Jazz Festival.
I thank the following people for sharing their love and dedication of their craft.
The late James Morton & Peter Smith of the NAC orchestra, Kimball Sykes, current NAC principal clarinetist.
David Morgan for helping me get started in Piano Technology; for sharing so openly.
Jack Stebbins of the North Bennet street school in Boston for his passion as a CTE and mentor.
John Liddle for sharing his passion for music, & musical ethic.
David Currie of Ottawa U & The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra for teaching the music in the music.
All my friends in the PTG that have been there to listen and help.
My wife Manon for her support, through such a crazy schedule for so many years.
To every musician I have worked with that has pushed me, every technician that has shared their love for the work: You all have made the journey rich. Life is an opportunity to explore, to grow, to discover, to pass it on. There remains so much more, so seize the day. My life has seen such musical diversity, born of a desire to enjoy it all. Your vision has not been lost.