An update on our ongoing response to COVID-19
We miss our community and hope you and yours are well! Through these strange and challenging times, we know we will gather again in the future. In the meantime, BJP has been working to expand ways that we can support the jazz community, paying attention to healthy protocols.
First, a couple of updates. The piano is still here! The loan by Yamaha Canada of the gorgeous C3 grand piano was up in June but given the times and the current impossibility of fund-raising, Yamaha has extended our time. This has allowed us to welcome local musicians for rehearsals, sessions, live-streams and recordings. There aren’t many venues in town that have a great piano on offer (and offer a free space) so this is a significant help to the local community at a time when it is most needed.
COVID-19 delays affected our application for charitable status through CRA but we are hopefully on track now. I have had incredible help from a CRA employee who has been kind and thorough, so fingers crossed that our application is approved soon. This will allow us to issue tax receipts for donations and will open up additional granting streams.
BJP received grant money from the Canada Council that has allowed us to hire musicians for a new on-line initiative we have developed called Jazz Connections. This program has three educational streams: BJP Webinars presented by jazz musicians; Jazz Notes, a video series featuring jazz compositions edited with commentary that explains the jazz structure and creative process; and Five Questions, a video compilation that introduces Canadian jazz musicians to listeners through a series of short answers to five engaging questions.
Our plan, dependent on grant money and donations, is to create a subscription portal on the BJP website that will give access to content we produce and provide an income stream that will allow us to develop further programming. This will create new revenue streams for musicians as we hire them to host webinars and edit videos and provide licensing fees for video use. It will also allow us to reach a global audience and raise the profile of Canadian jazz music and musicians.
Musicians are feeling particularly isolated right now so we organized a BJP hang for jazz musicians recently via Zoom. It was a big success and we are going to continue and expand that initiative to help musicians connect with other peers.
Be careful, be well, be hopeful. And be in touch: send us your thoughts and ideas about our new initiatives, suggestions for other areas to explore and musicians you’d like to see when concerts return. As always, we appreciate your continued engagement and support.
An Evening of Music at BJP with Ellen Doty
By Ellen Doty
Having grown up on an acreage near Okotoks, Alberta, many people ask me how I became interested in jazz in the first place. Jazz music was largely passed down to me through my family. On my mother’s side, her father was a trumpet player, and was also a radio host for CKUA Radio back in the 50’s when it used to be located on the University of Alberta campus. He had a large collection of jazz and classical records, and was just a big music fan. I think he certainly inspired a love for music in my mother, who in turn passed that on to me. On my father’s side, his mother lived across the street from Nat King Cole in Los Angeles. My grandparents grew up during the heyday of jazz. On the weekends, they used to go out swing dancing at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles to see legends like Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, and of course, Nat King Cole himself.
My mother was a choir director and organist for a church in Okotoks, and my father also sang in the choir, so naturally, I began singing at an early age as well. My first official performance was at my grade 1 talent show where I sang and played “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King. I took vocal lessons, guitar lessons, and piano lessons growing up, and also played alto sax followed by french horn in band. I did a few performances singing with our high school jazz band, but really, I didn’t start digging into vocal jazz more seriously until University. I was headed off to Carleton University in Ottawa to play on the basketball team there, and saw that they had a jazz program, so I decided to audition. Little did I know that it would more or less start me on the path to where I am now.
Through school clinics, and my own initiative, I’ve had the opportunity to study with many fine jazz musicians including Sheila Jordan, Robert White (Juilliard), Jay Clayton, Maria Schneider, Dave Mancini, and many more. While my music certainly has roots in jazz, my own song-writing certainly combines a variety of influences from jazz to pop to soul to folk to indie and more.
My most recent album, Come Fall was released in March of 2018 and debuted at #1 on the iTunes jazz charts, which was very exciting. It has 12 original songs on it, and features only voice, drums, and piano. No bass, no background vocals, no horns, no production, and no layers. It’s very simple, and I think, leaves a lot of room for the music to breathe.
I’m really looking forward to our performance at BuckingJam Palace on February 28th! My last show in Calgary was at National Music Centre in Studio Bell, so this will be a much more intimate affair. I hope that you will feel comfortable enough to ask any questions you may have about my music, writing process, or whatever your little hearts desire to know about.
This show will be different from my record in that I will actually be playing with bass! Murray Wood will be joining us on upright bass. Murray studied jazz at McGill, and is a fantastic player (side note, he also plays electric bass in a great indie rock band called Scenic Route to Alaska). On piano, we will be joined by Devin Hart. Devin teaches music at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, and also performs regularly with Juno-nominated Nuela Charles. We will be performing several original songs from my new album (and a few tunes from previous albums), as well as a few re-imagined standards. We are going to try a few tunes that I have never performed before, including a fun one originally recorded by Nina Simone (I can’t give too much away here).
I’m looking forward to sharing an evening of music with all of you! Cheers!
Learn more about Ellen Doty on her official website here.
Tickets for Ellen's show at BJP are sold out, but you can joint the waitlist here.
Video: BMC Organ Trio live at BuckingJam Palace!
We were blown away by the BMC Organ Trio last night. Here's a quick video of the action from our Facebook page.