Fun With An Old Friend

The last two weeks have been fairly hectic for me (not that I’m ever totally relaxed, but still). Life changes, new groups and everything inbetween.

A couple of the highlights involved a friend that I hadn’t seen in half a year. In fact, I didn’t even realize that he was in town until he called me for a gig on June 2nd.

Pianist Nick Maclean. One of my favourite players to work with and a really great hang. Nick and I met a few years ago in a band led by Jim Lewis at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. Nick was playing trombone, and I tenor sax and clarinet. We didn’t talk much, but I remember him playing the piano before rehearsals. A few months later we met (again) through singer Renée Yoxon and we did quite a bit of playing and a some recording (I may dig a few of those recordings up and post them). At this time, I was settling in Ottawa, and Nick was heading to Humber College.

That more, or less brings us up to date. Nick called me for a gig and I jumped at the chance to work with him again. Lately, I have been working with my trio (almost exclusively) and haven’t played with any chord players – I couldn’t have been more excited for a change of pace. A duet. Just saxes and piano. And as little sheet music as possible.

Nick and I started off the gig as if we’d never stopped playing together. Right from the first note we were able to push each other. Not pushing so much that we were uncomfortable, but pushing enough to keep each other on our collective toes. Nick brought a great arrangement of the theme from Star Trek and the rest of the night (except maybe one or two) were great standards. We’ve decided to spend a little more time learning each others’ originals and we’re hoping to get in to record around August.

The next week, I was able to catch Nick’s trio (with Donovan Bullen and Mike McNeil) and that trio was incredible. It reminded me of a Monty Alexander album Montreux Alexander. I was fortunate enough to sit in with the group for the second set and the group was so easy to play with. Great interaction, great swing, great sound.

If you can catch Nick somewhere in Ottawa this summer, make sure you do – you won’t be sorry. And make sure you look out for any news regarding the upcoming recording!


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