April 2015 Archives

By Laurie Dujardin

Jelly-Roll-Morton--His-Re-010.jpgJelly Roll Morton 1920s

JAZZ: a genre of music that originated during the late 19th and early 20th century. It emerged in many parts of the United States of independent popular music styles, linked by the common bond of African American and European American musical parentage. Jazz spans a range of music from Ragtime to the present day, a period of over 100 years and has proved to be very difficult to define. Jazz makes heavy use of improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note, as well as aspects of European harmony, American popular music, the brass band tradition, and African musical elements such as blue notes and ragtime. The birth of jazz in the multicultural society of America has led intellectuals from around the world to hail jazz as one of America's original art forms. As jazz spread around the world it drew on different national and regional cultures, giving rise to many distinctive styles. (Wikipedia)

Jelly Roll Morton, a creole, claimed to have invented jazz in 1902 in New Orleans, and there's plenty of evidence to support his claims. Prior to this, ragtime piano music accompanied silent films. The first jazz recordings came out of New Orleans, via New York, in 1917, and the new style quickly swept North America and Europe. It was adopted as the music of choice by "rebellious youth" and the JAZZ AGE was born.

Then came a massive migration of blacks and their music northward to industrial cities including Montreal, seeking work. Next came the U.S. prohibition of alcohol sales and consumption (1920-1933). I neglected to mention something many people don't know, that there was previously (1900-1916) a prohibition in Canada that was voted in province-by-province, EXCEPT in Quebec where it was resoundingly rejected.

So you can see the different elements coming together to make Montreal a major party town. There's also the proximity to the metropolis of New York linked by major railway lines and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Americans (and Canadians) started coming by the droves as word spread about the love of partying and entertainments late into the night. Night clubs, dancehalls, burlesque cabarets and vaudeville theatres multiplied at a furious pace. Of course, that was closely followed by organized crime, with its gambling, prostitution, extortion and loansharking, etc. But all of these places employed jazz musicians and they just couldn't get enough of them. Black musicians were also attracted to Montreal because it didn't have the brutal segregation laws that existed in the U.S.

Philip Sayce shines at Petit Campus Montreal Quebec


By Laurie Dujardin

140204-ps1[1].jpgI was sitting at home early on a Tuesday morning, working diligently on a writing assignment with the TV on quietly in the background. Global Morning News was on and Richard Dagenais was saying "you're in for a treat, smoking hot Canadian guitarist Philip Sayce is coming out with a new album called Influence". I looked up and saw a nice looking guy, with an earnest and soft-spoken way about him, saying his album pays tribute to his musical heroes as well as some original numbers. He highlighted all the people who had helped him. Then Richard said Philip had spent a lot of time touring with Jeff Healey, Melissa Etheridge, ZZ Top, Deep Purple...okay, NOW he really had my attention.

When Richard asked what it takes to impress him in other musicians, Philip said "it has everything to do with what's coming from inside (puts his hand over his heart), whether they've played for one day or a hundred years, as long as it's an expression of what that person is feeling. It's not about the style of music, it's not about anything but an emotional expression." Here I caught my breath, as it's the same thing I have been saying for years, only I usually just say "as long as it's got soul".

Richard said "You're playing the Petit Campus tonight; tell people what they're gonna see". Philip answered "They're gonna see a whole lot of heart, a whole lot of feeling. We put everything we have into every song. We do some old songs, some new songs; we like to pay respect to people, like maybe Neil Young, but we do it in our own way so it's not about copying or covering it".

Next, Richard said, "Tell us about the song you're about to play, which you wrote it for and played it at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Concert." I was now at full attention. "Yeah", said Philip, "I had that incredible opportunity just over a year ago, at Madison Square Gardens, and I played by myself, and so it's a wonderful opportunity to play it again now ". Then he proceeded to play, like he was born playing, Steamroller. A couple of minutes in and I knew I was listening to one of the all-time greats, and it was as if this unlikely-looking and super-humble, quiet guy was channeling all the legendary axe men. I was completely in awe. I've included the clip here so you can see for yourself.

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