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Monday, January 11, 2016

Moving to a smaller music centre.

Moving to a smaller music centre.

It's been a while since I've blogged (great word) and I look forward to getting back at it regularly.
My wife, youngest daughter and I moved from Toronto to Kelowna BC which is in the Okanagan Valley of interior British Columbia. It's absolutely gorgeous here. My parents live here and I haven't lived anywhere near them for over 27 yrs, so my wife and I thought it would be a nice place to relocate. My wife Marilla took an early retirement from teaching and is now taking wine courses to get into the wine industry out here. Great place for that. I am obviously continuing being a working musician.

It is a bit of an adjustment moving to a smaller music centre from a large music centre like Toronto, where I was based for 25 yrs, but I am surprised how much of a scene there is here. There are some really good players and there are cities of varying sizes near to Kelowna where there are opportunities to play as well. There are over 200 wineries in the Okanangan so there are lots of performing opportunities there. There is also Big White Ski Resort which is just basically up the highway from my house where I have been able to play twice since moving here at the beginning of October. Just played there this past Saturday for The International Wine Summit with a five piece band. I hired a fabulous singer named Kinga Heming, who also moved to Kelowna from Toronto about two yrs ago. Craig Thomson on tenor, who is an important part of the scene here. He is not only a very fine tenor player but he nurtures the young high school students to whom he teaches band and he co-hosts a weekly jam downtown which encourages young players to come up and play with some pros. I also hired Bernie Addington on bass, who is the first call bassist in the Okanagan and a young drummer named Chris Collier, who not only plays well but is getting his PHD in Electrical Engineering at UBCO here in Kelowna.

I have put together a west coast Sean Bray's Peach Trio since moving here and both Bernie Addington and Chris Collier make up the trio. We just played for the Salmon Arm Jazz Society this past Thursday and what a fantastic listening audience. We even received a standing ovation. Salmon Arm is about an hour and a half north of Kelowna in the Shuswap lakes area. We are also playing here in Kelowna on Wednesday at The Minstrel Cafe and Bar which is a great venue. I had played there a couple of years ago with an old friend and fantastic guitarist Loni Moger, who also happens to live in Kelowna. We knew each other years ago in Calgary but hadn't seen each other since I moved to New York and then to Toronto years ago. We ran into each other at Wentworth Music here in Kelowna while I was visiting my parents one summer.

I am proud to announce that I just signed an endorsement deal with PRS Guitars. I am very pleased as they are the best guitars I have played bar none. Brent Mason was a big help in getting the deal as he referred me to the director of artist relations at PRS. I have three PRS guitars. I have a 408 which is such a beautiful and versatile guitar, an SC-245 which is a fantastic guitar as well and uses the Gibson Les Paul as an influence but still very much a Paul Read Smith design and innovation and a Custom 24 which is also very versatile. It has 24 frets instead of the usual 22 for modern guitars and 21 for older designs. A whole two octaves on every string!

I have been listening to:

John Patitucci- "Brooklyn" which is a new recording for the bassist. It's a two guitar, bass and drums quartet. What's not to like right? Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas on guitars, Patitucci on electric bass and Brian Blade on drums. Nice band!

Rogers and Binney - "R and B". The Rogers is Adam Rogers on guitar and the Binney is David Binney on also sax. Great record! Reuben Rogers (no relation) on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums.
It diverts from their usual original material, which is great, and includes bebop, ballads and standards by Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Gershwin.

John Scofield "Past Present" reuniting the guitarist's famous and fantastic quartet of the late 80's and early 90's. Joe Lovano on tenor, Bill Stewart on drums and Larry Grenadier replacing the late Dennis Irwin on bass. Fantastic band and such great interplay between Lovano and Scofield with their weaving in and out of each others lines.

That's all for now.

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