A Message from Lisa Buck

Well. Where to start?

These are strange and stressful times.  The threat of illness brings with it huge amounts fear and anxiety and it is surreal to be experiencing this on a global level.  Just when we need comfort and strength from our communities, we are voluntarily isolating ourselves, locking our doors on an enemy we can’t see.

It’s important to remember that we are overreacting on purpose: it is not fear but prudence that is pushing the shutdown of many of our institutions and I am grateful that we have leaders who are willing to make these hard choices now, while there is time to work at containment.

We have rescheduled our March concert to October.  We will make lemonade out of this situation and host a mini-festival of female band-leaders featuring the Claire Devlin Quartet, the Adi Meyerson Quartet, and Gentiane MG with Frank Lozano.  It will be epic and I hope it gives you something to look forward to. We will be assessing the viability of the May shows closer to their dates.

I am proud to say that the first reaction in the jazz community to shows being cancelled was an overwhelming concern for the musicians who are losing their livelihood. I met Friday with members of our community and we have created Calgary Jazz Relief as a way to address this crisis. Kodi Hutchison, Artistic Director of Jazz YYC, was quick to offer the resources of his organization.  

We are also looking at ways to live-stream music.  Music is hope and we need this sound-track to our lives to lift us through tough times.  Festivals you are used to attending in person may come to you over the internet this year. Please be open to that possibility and consider buying a subscription to streamed concerts.

I know this is a crappy, fretful, fearful time.  The arts community will be reeling from the after-effects of this cultural shut-down long after people forget how COVID-19 infected our lives.  But with adversity comes opportunity and this is our time to show the vulnerable amongst us that we care for them, that we journey with them, that we support them emotionally and financially.

On a personal note, Tom and I are instituting a voluntary quarantine for the next couple of weeks, at least, because Tom has several health concerns that make him part of a vulnerable population.  But I will be helping distribute beef donated by Mitchell Bros. Beef to musicians (when the dust settles, please buy from them as they have been incredible!), BJP will be an active partner in Calgary Jazz Relief, and we will have our radar out for anyone who needs care and support.  If that’s you, please be in touch.  We want you to be well.


Lisa Buck

Interview with Lorna MacLachlan

Pianist/vocalist Lorna MacLachlan and her group of local Calgary artists will be performing her original compositions at BuckingJam Palace on Saturday, November 9th 2019 (8pm).

Lorna was nice enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her music and art in advance of her November concert.

Tell us about your musical backgroud? How did you learn to play Jazz? What is your education?

I studied piano with, arguably, Calgary’s best piano teachers - Peter Walker, Marilyn Engle, and a few others. I studied classical piano and composition with the intention of doing a double major at the University of Calgary but Composition grabbed me and I spent more time writing than practicing  (I actually started writing when I was about 12 years old). I finished a Masters in Music in Theory and Composition and then wrote professionally for everyone and anything. That is not easy in Calgary as there were very few opportunities. I wrote for Theatre Calgary, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Lunchbox Theatre, Springboard Dance collectives, Access network television, CBC, etc.

I loved writing but I found it difficult to balance that life with my family (ie. you cannot say NO to contracts or they dry up) so I went back to school after 10 or so years and completed an education degree. I landed an amazing first job at Western Canada High School upon my graduation and taught Choral music and Jazz Band for 15 years. I think we all had an amazing run but then it was time to move on. I went to a small private school for a few years and before returning to the Calgary Public School Board. I loved every experience I had and that is no small feat. Teaching is very challenging and it is not getting easier. It is, however, one of the most purposeful jobs I have ever known. I retired from teaching this year, after 24 years, so that I can pursue writing and playing full time.

As a “classical” musician I was pretty square but I loved Bartok (thank you Marilyn) mostly because of his crazy rhythms. As a writer I emulated his rhythmic ideas in string quartets, solo compositions and choral music. As a player I became more interested in learning about improvisation as I was also quite heavily into electronic music in my last few years at U of C. There was a great electronic music lab at the University - and a Fairlight computer (you may not know what this is but suffice it to say that the pioneers of electronic classical music made it possible for those crazy keyboard racks in the 80s). I found by combining the heavily structured and programmed electronic music with improvisation you could bring life to music that may feel a bit contrived. Keeping in mind that programming these computers was not the same as the super friendly computers of today. I remember programming a piece of music that took about 3 hours and lasted about 10 seconds and sounded like a fridge being plugged in and unplugged and then plugged in… I think you get my drift. Improvisation was so life giving in combination to this.

I wanted to know more. I joined a band and played keyboards. Then I started programming bass lines and playing live with computers and other live musicians. I never wanted to be a Pop/Rock musician, I just wanted to learn more about something I didn't know. I gravitated to a funkier/Jazzier side of things - Prince was inspiring (Sign of the Times), Peter Gabriel (everything), Sting (Dream of the Blue Turtles). I loved their work. The first CD I wrote was called Jigsawand I was given the support of a FACTOR grant (1988). I felt like I was really on the right track!

Worst album I ever recorded.

Biggest budget I ever had.

Greatest learning experience of my life.

Fortunately for everyone it is no longer available.

The second CD was called Two Trees. It was almost 20 years later and since then I have not stopped. I have written and produced 6 full length studio albums and, in my opinion, they get better with each one. (Jigsaw, Two Trees, Telegraphy, Time 4 Change, Feet on Ground, Bicycle Riding in the Dark). That is the point of recording for me: It is a document of where I am and what I have learned and that may or may not be of interest to anyone. As a teacher, artist and as a person, I am most interested in learning. In connecting and discovering what motivates me and how to take that information and make beautiful connections through music, language and relationships.

I have had the honour and privilege of studying with so many amazing teachers. Inspiring teachers. Incredible role models.

I include the inspiring teachers right here in Calgary: David Ferguson, Peter Walker, Greg Levin, Marilyn Engle, Michelle Gregoire and in other cities: David Braid, Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Phil Dwyer, Maria Schneider. I could go on for the numerous opportunities that all the Jazz Educators conferences awarded me in Toronto, New Orleans and New York but I’m sure you are bored with this list already.

I spent several weeks flying to Toronto to study with David Braid. He would set me up in a practice room, give me a month’s worth of work and then meet me the next day to see what I might have accomplished. I sincerely hope to continue my studies in Toronto.

I have also learned a great deal from the musicians I get to play with: Robin Tufts, Richard Harding and Andre Wickenheiser - Very smart and talented players. The learning continues.

Who are your influences?

Bach (J.S.), Mozart (W.A.), Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Brad Mehldau, Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, again, David Braid, Dave Holland, Maria Schneider, Amina Figarova, Joni Mitchell, Blossom Dearie to name only a few. All the guys in my band.

How do you approach composing music?

Well, yes, how do I approach composition?  When it is my choice  -patiently, reluctantly, regularly (there are times when it approaches me but those are not as common as the times I have to approach it).

I think about Kenny wheeler when he was explaining his approach to writing. It is exactly as I dream I would like to write, that is: You wake up at a reasonable hour (say, 6:30 am), you go to the piano with a strong coffee and play for a couple of hours. You then shower, pour another coffee and get to work. If you’re lucky, the work will lead to an amazing inspired thought around 6:30 pm, if you’re not, you probably got a lot of work done on the last inspired thought you had.

I always like to have three (minimum) pieces on the go. This helps keep me motivated.

My life and work has not looked exactly like this.  Most of my writing has happened at the end of a very long day or on a weekend. That said, however, I am working toward making it like the above dream.

I do believe being a composer involves the same kind of work as being a great pianist: you need to practice everyday and much of the work is not as inspiring as one would hope. You write all your garbage down (don’t worry, you can throw it out later). There can be great inspiration in the work you think is nothing and, by the same token, the work you think is awesome today may sound like crap tomorrow. Compositions need to breath and editing is key. This is a very important point for me! In the early years, I often believed that my work was a bit of a gift from the heavens: sacred. After years of study with some incredible teachers, I learned that there is much to learn and that your first draft is - exactly that - a draft. A composition is what is created when you take an inspired (hopefully) idea and work it out. This is often, labour intensive and I, like most people, don’t want to work that hard. I have to admit, though, I am pretty disciplined. Sometimes I think that has come about because I have limited talent. That statement right there does not usually help me sell CDs on my website but sometimes it FEELS like it is true. Now, I would not normally disclose this but this is not an original thought. In fact, one of the most talented (or perceived as such) artists I know told me this: “If anyone knew how hard I worked, they might think I have no talent at all”. This is my mantra.

There is also another necessary factor that makes writing important enough in your life to keep you going - for me, it is my voice. For me, I write to know myself better. This does not happen in a year or two. Through composition and improvisation I feel I have a direct line to my subconscious. Most artists I know are more interested in figuring out what motivates, captures, connects people and occasionally what entertains (but generally less of the later). Most artists I get to hang with are the most insightful, aware people I know. This can be challenging in a world that does not recognize awareness as much as money and fame but to the artist, this becomes more valuable.

Teaching is very much like this. Especially when you are inspiring students who may otherwise never have the opportunity to learn the value of great art. Of course I believe that teachers are incredibly underpaid and overworked as they inspire , and often, parent each new generation.

What is your concept for your own group and what repertoire will you be performing?

I’m not sure I have a specific “concept” for my group. I write music that is inspired by life and I arrange it with these players in mind. I love bass lines, in general, so I love working with Jeremy Coates because he is not only incredibly competent but incredibly musical. I love Robin Tuft because he is the most creative drummer I know and I love writing for two horns and I feel so lucky to have these particular two horns. I have a good idea how Richard Harding and Andre Wichenheiser play individually and how they play together. They, along with the rhythm section have a beautiful connection and really bring my ideas to life. There is a great deal of mutual respect in the group.

I am not really interested in virtuosity, however, when players are as competent this, I know it is fun to challenge each other at times. Some of this music is not easy but we work through it and these players make it sound effortless. I feel the freedom to write anything and I know they will be able to not just play it but to interpret it with the meaning I intended.

The core of this group has been together for a long time. I feel we respect each other as players and, more importantly, as people. We have all been through challenging times and we have all been there for each other. This connection is at the core of the music I want to make.

What are your future plans with this project and what other projects are you planning in the future?

I plan to keep writing. My objectives in the next year are to get better as a player (I have a trip to Toronto in the works). As long as I feel I have something to say, musically, I will continue to write. When I have nothing to say, I will stop.

I always think the latest recording will be my last but that what I though 5 or so recording back so I never know. If I write 15 or 20 tunes that I think are stunning and need to be recorded, I guess I will find the money to do another CD.

In my dreams, I would like to do a European tour (without using up all my savings). We’ll see about that.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a music educator?

To those students who are thinking of teaching music here is my advice:

1) You better be passionate about your area in music and a few other areas in music as well as in other subject areas. Stay playing and practice. When you get to the place where you can’t play anymore your are not as effective as you think. Take some lessons. I have always been pretty fortunate in that I taught predominantly music for my career - this does not happen as much anymore. You need to KEEP yourself feeling passionate about music and if you stop feeling that way you need to inspire yourself to keep the passion going (i.e. keep playing, take a class, join a performing ensemble, start a band). All the inspiration you create for yourself continues through you to your students. If you are teaching choral music and you don’t feel anything - stop. I know that sounds harsh but if you are not teaching passion and emotion through music, what are you teaching?

2) Don’t teach your students to become entertainers  and don’t fall into the habit of entertaining them. - they get enough of that everyday in this society. Teach them something they don’t already know - that’s your job. The beauty of Bach and Mozart. Who?

3) Teaching is challenging but it is one of the most purposeful occupations you will ever know but only if you keep learning.

4) The most important line I was told by an amazing educator - “remember, you will outlive your administration” I don’t even know if that is relevant here and it may sound radical but I never forgot it and it saved me on more than one or two occasions - it is true.

5) Relationships with other teachers are important but the most important relationships you have are the ones you develop with the support staff in your school (your administrative assistant /secretary does more work for you than you will ever know) The care taking staff are people with complex lives. The last caretaker I had was a cardiac surgeon who could not practice in Canada - don’t assume anything.

BuckingJam Palace CBC Radio Feature

Want to learn more about what’s going on behind the scenes at BuckingJam Palace? Do you want to learn more about Lisa & Tom Buck, the generous souls behind this dynamic concert series?

In case you missed it, check out this CBC Calgary radio feature from January 2019 (also recently re-broadcast this summer) for some background information on this very special and very ambitious Jazz house concert series, happening right here in Calgary:


You can also listen to the full podcast here:



Here's a listing of all the upcoming concerts happening this fall:

Saturday, October 5th (two shows: 2pm & 8pm) – Mike LeDonne and The Groover Quartet

Thursday, October 10 (8pm) – The Hoffman/Lemish Quartet

Sunday, October 20 (two shows: 2pm & 8pm) – Mike Allen's "Just Like Magic" trio with Peter Washington & Lewis Nash

Friday, November 1 (8pm) – Jodi Proznick’s Sun Songs

Saturday, November 9 (8pm) – Lorna MacLachlan


Many of these shows are very close to being sold out so don't delay and get your tickets for what will surely be some of the most exciting Jazz concerts in Calgary happening this Fall.

Visit www.buckingjampalace.com for ticket information.

Even better yet, subscribe to the BuckingJam mailing list and receive up-to-date information on upcoming shows and previews of future concerts.

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.


Mike Downes rocks BuckingJam Palace!

On November 8th, BuckingJam Palace was thrilled to host the Mike Downes Quintet.

Thank you to everyone who came out to see Mike and his band, and support live jazz in Calgary.

Here's some feedback straight from Mike Downes Music on Facebook: