Drummer Quincy Davis is the latest musician to catch the jazz express from New York City to Winnipeg -- more specifically, the jazz studies program in the University of Manitoba music faculty.
Davis, who has spent the last 10 years as a freelance musician in the mecca of jazz, starts teaching this week in the jazz program along with fellow former New Yorkers Steve Kirby, a bassist and director of the program, saxophonist Jimmy Greene and pianist George Colligan.
It was the presence of his teaching colleagues, who already had made the move, that clinched Davis's decision to leave the Big Apple. "It was a big move; it helped that Jimmy and George and Steve were teaching here.
"It's a very tough move to go anywhere from New York," says the Michigan-born Davis, "especially to the middle of Canada to a place I'd never heard of."
In fact, it was Greene who told him about the post during one of the saxophonist's trips back to NYC to perform.
Davis will teach nine private students, coach a small jazz ensemble and teach a jazz performance class.
Davis just returned from New York last week, where he had performed at the jazz club Smoke, and he'll go back later this month to play at Smalls. He plans to continue his performance work, usually with weekend engagements, to keep up his skills and contacts; and it helps spread the school's name, he adds.
The drummer has been here for a while, getting an apartment and documents like his Social Insurance Number and medical card, and spending time with Kirby to ask questions and attune himself to the rhythms of the jazz program.
Davis describes his playing as "straight-ahead, but very open to all different styles." He cites influences such as Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Ben Riley, Tony Williams and Jack De Johnette, as well as younger drummers like Kenny Washington, Greg Hutchinson and Bill Stewart.
"Everyone had a strong influence on me," he says.
Davis, who showed himself to be a skilled and sensitive drummer performing with his new colleagues at the Aug. 19 Jazz on the Rooftop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, has a muted musicality like Lewis Nash, say, or Canada's Terry Clarke. And that's good.
You can see for yourselves on Wednesday nights when Davis et al. perform at the weekly Hang at The Orbit Room, 2077 Pembina Highway, 8-11 p.m.
-- -- --
June's TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival "did a little better than break-even," Jazz Winnipeg executive producer Paul Nolin says, and that's "a fine place to be."
In the first year with TD Canada Trust as the title sponsor, the festival had attendance of between 37,000 and 38,000, Nolin said, up from an earlier estimate of 35,000.
"The way I do my accounting," Nolin adds, "is if the festival generated enough profit to carry through to the end of the fiscal year (Nov. 30)."
But before that, Jazz Winnipeg is putting on two shows in its 210-2011 concert season.
Blues duo Sue Foley and Peter Karp reprise their He Said She Said show from this year's jazz fest on Nov. 2 at the Park Theatre. Tickets are $15 in advance from jazzwinnipeg.com, 989-4656, or from Jazz Winnipeg office, 007-100 Arthur St.
Pianist and singer Michael Kaeshammer and singer-songwriter Jill Barber share a double bill, Nov. 26 at the Burton Cummings Theatre. Both are working on new recordings and sneak peek (or listen, rather) might in the works.
Tickets are $36 plus fees from Ticketmaster or the Jazz Winnipeg office.
-- -- --
Jazz under the Rooftop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery opens its winter concert series on Sept. 24 with perennial favourite Papa Mambo, the Latin music octet led by guitarist Rodrigo Muñoz.
Tickets ($21 for WAG members, $25 for adults, $23 for students and seniors) are available at the WAG or through Ticketmaster.