Musings for 2023: Looking ahead for BJP with Lisa Buck
I hope this note finds you happy and well! The new year is well underway and I want to share with you a look back over past year’s events and a look forward to where BJP is headed.
BJP had its AGM on February 22nd and we said good-bye to three retiring board members: Steven Gallant, Emily Buck and Richelle Wiseman. So much gratitude goes out to these folks for their hard work. Incoming board members are Janice Woodward, AJ Benoit and Graham Frampton, all of whom bring deep experience and enthusiasm and will be invaluable in stewarding BJP— along with continuing board members Jodi Lucas, Tiro Clarke, Céline Peterson and Lisa Buck— through in its next stages of growth.
BJP worked hard during the pandemic to develop projects that employed artists, from the Canada Council underwriting the making of our documentary, Change the Tune, to FACTOR supporting educational webinars and concert recordings and Calgary Arts Development supporting the creation of our animated video, Toones. Our programming efforts put tens of thousands of dollars into the hands of musicians at a time when they needed it most.
We are back to hosting a full season of ten to fourteen concerts from October to June and are almost completely booked to the end of June 2024. This is both great and challenging. I get many, many more requests from outstanding musicians that we can possibly handle. The number of affordable music venues in Calgary with a backline was minuscule pre-pandemic and it is dire now. We run a very lean operation at BJP and prioritize paying musicians well: rising costs for insurance, food (we feed all the groups who play here) and software mean that even with a sold-out crowd, we can fall short of breaking even. So, how to plan for the future?
First, we need administrative help. I have been a volunteer Executive Director since 2015, along with working as Artistic Director. As BJP’s reputation has grown, so has the work load and it is too much for one person. Now that we have charitable status, we will be looking to expand our operational and programming capacity by building a donor program—we are registered for tax-receipted donations through Canada Helps—and applying for operational grants.
Second, we want to explore the possibility of holding additional concerts in a venue outside of the house. The demand is there and we’d like to create the capacity to meet it. I am participating in a Creative Spaces Mentoring program organised by Calgary Arts Development and ArtsBuild Ontario that is aimed at helping arts organizations find affordable spaces. To continue to host the top-tier musicians we currently book, BJP needs a venue that includes a backline with a PA system, a drum kit and a grand piano. Our vision is to collaborate with other music organizations who have the same needs to establish a music venue we could all share. It’s a long-term goal but one that is important to work towards.
At the start of 2023, we collaborated with Women Band Directors International to host a sold-out concert featuring Christine and Ingrid Jensen as part of a Girls in Jazz weekend that saw ninety-three registrants; and we collaborated with the United States Consulate General to host a private concert with the Caili O’Doherty Quintet for guests from Calgary’s Black Chamber of Concert in honour of Black History Month. Both those groups would like to continue collaborating. In January, Tom and I had the privilege of welcoming Janna Sailor, conductor of the all-female Allegra Chamber Orchestra, to our house for three days of rehearsals and recordings with IndigiDivas, a group of five, Indigenous female concert vocalists. All these projects prioritize gender parity, inclusion and diversity in music, work that is vitally important and a key focus for our Foundation. Many of you will know that this is also a cause I feel passionate about and I am delighted to say that the all-female ensemble that I manage, The Ostara Project, has been nominated for a JUNO in the category of Vocal Jazz Group of the Year.
So, so much good stuff happening and the challenge is to keep it happening. I often shake my head that what started out as a family initiative to provide grass-roots support to the local music community has grown into a venue known and beloved throughout Canada and beyond, run by a charitable foundation, and attracting top-tier talent from across North America. What a journey!
Thank you all for being a vital part of what we do. Attending concerts, donating time and money and expertise, loading the dishwasher and folding chairs and sending notes of encouragement and appreciation: this is what has built a community that I feel absolutely privileged to be part of. So many lovely artists in our future and so much good music to look forward to. Upward and onward!
A 2021 year end update from Lisa Buck
2021 seems determined to close out with a much uncertainty as it began. In the midst of that, I want to send out good wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year. Despite the ongoing stress of difficult times, I feel immensely grateful to be part of a community of incredible folk who understand the soul-stirring power of the Arts and work to protect and celebrate our culture and its dedicated creators.
We are rescheduling all our events at BJP for the month of January. While this is immensely disappointing, I am encouraged that the three concerts we were able to schedule in November and December were sold-out, were attended with great enthusiasm and were held without incident. Reducing capacity, participating in the restriction exemption program and adding non-touch protocols have added to everyone’s comfort level.
We have exciting projects in the works. Our Toones project—a film collaboration with the Quickdraw Animation Society—is perking along nicely. All music compositions have been handed over to animators and it’s going to be exciting to see the spectrum of “visual music” that comes to life. Toones is funded by a grant from Calgary Arts Development: the grant has allowed BJP to invest $25,000 into the Calgary Arts community at a crucial time when artists need support.
Plans for shooting the Change the Tune project—a music video and documentary about the challenges faced by female jazz instrumentalists—are still moving ahead. Pandemic permitting, we will be shooting at the Warehouse studio in Vancouver the week of February 11th with seven of Canada’s top jazz musicians. This project is funded by the Canada Council and, again, grant money is allowing us to employ artists and make art even in these difficult times.
I am part of the current cohort in the Rozsa Foundation’s Arts Management Program, offered in partnership with the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. The training is excellent. I am working on a capstone project for the course that is focused on outfitting BJP with the equipment and technical support to record live-off-the-floor. I lend our space and backline often for rehearsals and recordings so this is a natural next-step: the acoustics are ideal for recording so kudos to the architect who made that possible 110 years ago!
Our next scheduled concerts are February 24th and 25th with a quintet of absolutely top-notch musicians: Jodi Proznick, Amanda Tosoff, Laura Anglade, Virginia MacDonald and Sanah Kadoura. Pencil it into your calendars for now: tickets on sale in the new year.
A final note of gratitude as a proud Calgarian and Canadian. Funding agencies in this country have worked overtime to mitigate the damage to the Arts sector. Canada supports its artists far better than our neighbour to the south and BuckingJam Palace has been able to continue to work for musicians because of this support and the generosity of individual patrons who have donated to our programming.
Wishing peace and joy to you and yours and looking ahead to healthy times filled with music 2022!
January 2020 @ BuckingJam Palace!
We hope you are all gearing up for the holidays and easing into the festive spirit. And what better way to celebrate Christmas than with some tickets for your loved ones to one of the many great Jazz concerts coming up next year at BuckingJam Palace? (it sure beats a lump of coal...)
There is lots of great music coming up and here's a preview of the two outstanding shows coming up in January to start off the year ahead.
Canadian pianist Adrean Farrugia partners with one of New York City's finest, tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, for an intimate evening of duets. Juno award winner Adrean Farrugia has played on over forty albums, including four as a leader. He first met New York saxophonist Joel Frahm in 1990 and a creative musical connection was formed that led to the release of their 2018 duo album, Blued Dharma. Joel Frahm is recognized as one of the finest saxophone players on the New York scene today.
Hailed by All About Jazz as "wise beyond his years" and "remarkable" by Toronto Music Report, Philadelphia native, New York-based saxophonist Sam Taylor brings one of his heroes, saxophone legend, Larry McKenna, to BuckingJam Palace on January 25, 2020. Philadelphia tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna has played with Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and countless others. Sam Taylor released his second album, Along The Way, featuring Larry McKenna in November 2017. Joining them are two top tier New York musicians: Grammy Award winning bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Pete Van Nostrand.
Vancouver bassist and composer Jodi Proznick offers some personal insight into her original composition "Let Go", from her album Sun Songs (which, incidentally, won her a recent Western Canadian Music Award for "Jazz Artist of the Year"!)
Also, check out this feature with Proznick from the Vancouver Courier about the inspiration and process behind her music.
Jodi Proznick and her quintet perform music from her album Sun Songs on Friday, November 1st 8pm at BuckingJam Palace!
*If tickets for an event are sold out, make sure to email through the website anyways and request to be put on the waitlist. Often tickets will come up at the last minute due to last minute cancellations.*
**You can also put yourself on the waitlist through the Eventbrite listing. Each waitlist entry represents one ticket so you need to enter your information twice if you want two tickets. There is always someone who can't make it at the last minute and we do our very best to accommodate anyone who wants to be here!**
***Also, remember to sign up for the email list as tickets for these unique events frequently sell out quickly. Don’t miss out on these amazing opportunities!***
Interview with Jodi Proznick -"Sun Songs"
Bassist, composer, educator and recent winner of the Western Canadian Music Awards "Jazz Artist of the Year" category Jodi Proznick was kind enough to take time out her busy schedule to answer a few questions in advance of her Friday, November 1st performance at BuckingJam Palace.
Jodi Proznick BuckingJam Blog Interview - October 2019
1) Tell us about your musical background. How did you learn to play Jazz? What is your education?
My musical background started in my playful childhood home - then piano lessons and ballet, then in school - a great elementary school music teacher and a fabulous band program at my high school. I then went to McGill to pursue a degree in music.
2) Who are your influences?
My big jazz influences are John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Paul Chambers, Kenny Wheeler and Shirley Horne. And the Beatles. And J.S. Bach!
3) What is your concept for your own group and what repertoire will you be performing?
I like the quartet and/or trio format - the Sun Songs project added a vocalist to my quartet, but I did write the vocal part with a horn in mind. We will be playing the music from my JUNO nominated album Sun Songs - a project that explores the polarities of life, written in response to two big life events; the birth of my son and my mother's early onset dementia diagnosis.
4) How do you approach composing music?
Composing is very slow for me. I need time and space - which means that when life is busy, I have to grab time and space in the cracks of my day.
5) What are your future plans for this project and what other projects are you planning in the future?
I feel like this project is going to keep going for a while - we performed some of the pieces with the amazing men's choir Chor Lioni and I am interested to see what other groups and/or collectives could recreate and reimagine the music. Chamber music? Orchestra? Big Band? Multi-media? I am open to possibilities!
6) What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a music educator and/or Jazz musician?
My advice for a life in music?
When you are nervous, focus in service.
When you are clear about the why, the how and the what, and they all become obvious.
Intention is everything.
Be kind and be prepared.
Show up for your life.
Find your people and love them. Make art with them.