Archive for June, 2008

The Vancouver Jazz Festival Part II

June 29th, 2008 1 comment

There is only one full day left of jazz festival action and then there is a short curtain call of Canada Day festivities on Granville Island, July 1.

A quick reprise of today’s highlights at David Lam Park and the Roundhouse Community Centre. I volunteered at the Ironworks last night so, I did not get up early and I forget to charge my cell phone. I decided to leave my motorcycle at home and take the bus downtown. I arrived just in time to get into Paul Plimley’s performance on piano with a quartet of mostly European influenced players. Harris Einstadt (Toronto) on drums, bassist Wilbert de Joode and saxophonist Tobias Delius.

In the second piece, Paul’s extended solo developed beautifully out of an ensemble improvisation and was one of the best pieces of music making in the improvised set. The ensemble played very well together, interacting and responding to each other in a musical dialogue. The group’s mood changed dynamically when they played a soulful ballad as the penultimate piece, showing that improvised music doesn’t have to be loud, noisy and full of odd sounds. The final piece demonstrated that it could be exactly that and the concert ended on an energetic chord. Read more…

Categories: Inspiration

Night of Broken Bikes

June 28th, 2008 1 comment

This is an unusual tale of mechanical mystery, charming chivalry and late-night suspense. Friday night was my last shift as Crew Chief at The Ironworks, a beautiful venue that has been my home at the Jazz Fest for 4 years. Although the Ironworks studio, an artistic space in an actual converted metal-working shop previously known as Burrard Ironworks, is sophisticated and beautiful inside, it is located in the worst part of Vancouver. The neighbourhood is one of the poorest postal codes in Canada and many homeless people wander the streets in company with drug addicts and mentally ill individuals. The area is starting to gentrify, behind security barracades, but the streets are still mean and inhabitants are unpredictable — it is the Downtown Eastside.

I went down to The Ironworks early, as the venue manager had requested that I be there at 6:30pm. I complied and helped organize the other volunteers by orienting and assisting the hospitality volunteer and making sure everyone else knew what they were supposed to be doing. My job as Crew Chief is to keep the volunteers happy, make sure they have water or soft drinks and get a break when they need it. I also keep an eye on the venue and support the venue manager.

While I was changing my boots for shoes, I left a message with Simon that my red+white loaner FJ motorcycle was developing the same clutch problem that my blue+black FJ had last year. I had noticed him leaning it over at angles I cannot achieve without becoming completely horizontal, and pumping the clutch to remove the air from the lines. Somewhere in the clutch system, which is supposed to be full of a pressurized oil, there were air bubbles getting in.

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Vancouver Jazz Festival

June 23rd, 2008 No comments

Every year I volunteer at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and last night, June 22, was my first shift as the Crew Chief at the Ironworks. The show last night was fun and unusual as Francois Houle and Mats Gustafsson organized an improvisational program around the idea of a hockey game, Improv Power Play: Canada vs Sweden. The individual solo improvs that started the event were excellent with standouts in my mind being Peggy Lee (defense for Canada) on cello and Per Ake Holmlander (defense Sweden) on tuba. Everyone played extremely well and the night ended with both teams on stage playing together. The drummer or goalie, Raymond Strid, for the Swedish Team (Tre Kroner), was very playful and showed a great sense of humor in this some times “serious music” jazz environment.

June 20

I have already seen some great shows, Barry Guy (bass) and Myra Homberger filled up the room at The Western Front with delightful sonorities and tasteful improvisation. The Baroque violins that Myra specializes in playing, have a unique timbre and blend with Barry’s bass beautifully. This duo has played together frequently and they mixed composed works with less structured pieces in imaginative segues.

Unfortunately, I had a small motorcycle accident, so I was a bit disoriented and missed Benoit Delbecq at the Roundhouse. That hurt more than the bruises I sustained, as I am always inspired by his playing.

June 21

I did catch the set with Benoit Delbecq and Quator Bozzini at the Western Front and it showed me a more restrained side of his musical skill set. I will see them again on Tues and will write more after that.

My daughter recommended Pink Martini as an interesting show and they were pure entertainment. The most unusual feature of this group is the multi-language focus of the songs. Although all of the songs fell within the movie theme + Vegas show + cruise ship show band type of genre; the switch to a different language showed how far the influence of stage band jazz has reached. The group excelled at Latin music and closed with a great version of “Brazil” after singing in Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, English and probably other languages as well. The pianist, Thomas L. Lauderdale, played with flourishes that reminded me of Liberace. Lauderdale is the mastermind behind Pink Martini, and the lovely vocalist Chana (citation) was credited with co-writing the songs and was amazing in her abilitiy to sing in all these different languages. Other members of the 13 piece group were outastandin musicians and helped contribute to the multi-cultural aspect of the performance.

June 22

Despite having an afternoon business meeting regarding the book, I managed to hear a bit of the Vancouver Creative Music Institute (VCMI), a co-production of Coastal Jazz and Blues and the Vancouver Community College. The large ensemble, conducted by Georgio Magenesi, was brilliantly executed with space for all the players, changes in density, dynamics and timbre that maintained interest throughout. One of the best improvised large ensemble pieces for this year. Lan Tung was featured on erhu, Chinese violin, and her tone sang beautifully.

Georgio has taught me a lot about music. Sometimes when I listen to improv, noise music or another genre I don’t completely understand — I switch into another mode of listening. I change from listening for melody, harmony, rhythm and other structures, to listening to a matrix of timbres and densities. If I can break free of my traditional music frames, I can enjoy and experience music in another way. I feel like I have never properly thanked him for this tool, and other things he has told me about conducting. He is the Director of Vancouver New Music and we are lucky that he left his native Italy to enrich out community.

Francois Houle was the Artistic Director of this years VCMI and he did a wonderful job of supporting the players. All of the faculty also play in the festival and this week long series assists Vancouver players to interact with established International artists.

Later, I volunteered at the Ironworks.

Today, I have to go to work and so will miss the shows. However, I might be able to get off early enough to use my pass to see at least one show.

Categories: Inspiration, VIX at Work

Forest Stewardship Council Certification

June 11th, 2008 No comments

In my quest to produce the most environmentally friendly book possible, I am investigating printers that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada. Their site has links to all of the FSC certified printers in the country.


Although it would be a lot less expensive to produce my book in Asia, I am willing to pay to “Live More Lightly.” I am sure that each individual who makes this choice influences other printers to change to more environmentally sensitive processes. There will always be a market for the absolute lowest cost production, but our children and grandchildren will pay for the damage we cause today. Friesen’s Corporation, one of the first FSC certified printers in Canada, produced a survey that showed that book buyers would be willing to pay more for a certified publication. I believe that the difference in price will be reasonable and that I can sell my book package for $18.95 Can/US.

I am confident that a Canadian FSC certified printer is doing the best that they can within the limitations of current technology. My father owned a printing business after being an offset printer and letter-pressman in larger firms and my grandfather was a lithographer and a craftsman in time before digital print. The toxic inks, cleaning chemicals and other air-borne pollutants aggravated his lungs and contributed to his smoking-related breathing problems. My father, who retired from the printing business many years ago, also had to deal with toxic chemicals in the workplace, but now inks are vegetable based and digital files make many other toxins obsolete.

I will have to get more quotes and weigh the environmental cost of shipping a lot of books over long distances. I won’t be able to carry large numbers of books on my motorcycle, so I will need to ship books to fulfill orders. I would like to sell my book in stores as well as through the internet and in person. To do this I need a distributor who will accept book orders and ship the books to re-sellers. Most book distributors are in Eastern Canada, and if I can arrange a contract with a distributor then I could have half the books shipped there and half to Vancouver. That narrows the choices to somewhere between Vancouver and Toronto . . . still a lot of choices.

Categories: Uncategorized

Fear of Success / Fear of Failure

June 4th, 2008 No comments

The commitment I have made to The Live More Lightly Project is becoming a larger part of my life. I battle against my fears as I invest my meager resources into project production. The fear of success is based on the experiences I have had as a performer as I know that attracting attention can be dangerous. As a woman, the idea of riding solo far from home is a risk and on a motorcycle, I am particularly vulnerable. I am trying everything I can to make this tour safe and productive, and I want to focus on the issue, not on myself.

The fear of failure is faced every time I present my artistic work.

Will people like it? Will anyone want me to do my workshop or decide to buy my book? The chance of complete rejection is one that always lurks in the background at any performance or artistic presentation.

I tell myself that no one is making me do this. It is all my own idea and all the deadlines and pressure to complete the project are totally manufactured by me. I am trying to have fun with it, so I have been working on the cover and avoiding the business plan.

The business plan looms though, and I will have to convince my credit union to provide me with a financial safety net. I realize that there is a possibility that I will return to Vancouver in September with no money and no employment. If I am able to organize workshops along the way and sell some books, then I will retain some of my savings. I have to look on the bright side and consider all the positive reactions that I have gathered from people when I talk about my project.

It always depresses me when I have to do accounting, but I have to approach this with confidence and see it through. My life is a series of small tasks that will lead to a completed project. This is one more task that I don’t have to do, but it will make my journey more comfortable and give me a larger margin of safety than my VISA can provide.

Categories: Inspiration