Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Festival a showcase for local jazz players

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A jazz festival is a good time for local performers to strut their stuff for the home-town fans. There are more gigs for musicians, and they get to play to audiences primed by the festival atmosphere.

Everybody wins; the musicians find some new fans, and the fans might discover a performer they didn't know before or reconnect with one they did.

A good place to start is with The Chess Club -- Winnipeg guitarist Greg Lowe and Jack Semple, a guitarist and singer based in Regina.

They're releasing an album, Wake Up Time, during their performances Wednesday and Thursday at Pockets Bar & Grill (you can catch them at noon Wednesday in Portage Place) during the Jazz Winnipeg Festival this week.

Anyone who has caught Lowe knows what a great guitarist he is. Double that with Semple and you have a potent combination. Their repertoire isn't exactly jazz -- more roots, more bluesy -- but they are such beautiful players.

They met about 10 years ago in the R&B band The Lincolns and formed a musical friendship that was rekindled in recent years when they met up again on the road and formed an acoustic partnership this time.

The name The Chess Club came from Lincolns' saxophonist Earl Seymour. "He thought we were square," Lowe said.

Lowe also appears during the festival with The Buhr Quartet (Saturday at Liberty Grill) and Jennifer Hanson, the former Winnipegger now based in Atlanta (today and tomorrow at Pockets). Lowe will be backing the singer along with Ron Halldorson on steel guitar (which is a treat to hear).

Manitoba Night, tonight at Prairie Theatre Exchange, showcases the music of Miles Davis with musicians Dave Lawton, Frank Burke, Richard Gillis and Bob Van Den Broek on trumpets, Gilles Fournier on bass, Kelly Marques on drums and musical director Jeff Presslaff on piano. They're concentrating on the legendary trumpeter's acoustic material, his best-known and best-loved work.

There are plenty of other local acts to catch this week at clubs and at downtown noon-hour shows in Old Market Square and Portage Place.

Jodie Borle, a good young singer, performs tonight at Liberty Grill while saxophonist David Hasselfield is at Pockets. Tomorrow, the George Reznik Trio is at Liberty and saxophonist (and radio host) Walle Larsson is at Pockets. Wednesday, Big Jay and The Jive Flyers are on the patio at the Empire and singer Martha Brooks is at Pockets. Thursday, singer Ilena Zaramba is at Pockets. Papa Mambo is at the Empire Friday and Saturday and the Blue Line Express is at The Line-up on Friday.

The festival is continuing its jam sessions in the lounge at the Fairmont Hotel. Jeff Presslaff will host Wednesday and Thursday, Ron Paley on Friday and Saturday.

The festival runs through Saturday; information is available at and tickets from Ticketmaster, 780-3333.

* * *

Four local musicians will vie on Friday and Saturday nights for $10,000 of studio recording time in Cool FM's new contest run in conjunction with the jazz festival.

Finalists Dave Lawton and Adam O'Connor, both trumpet players and vocalists, will perform Friday at Pockets Bar and Grill for a panel of four judges. Trumpeter and composer Dave Kisik and composer, alto saxophone and flute player Alexis Marsh will perform Saturday.

The winner will be awarded the prize to record at the studio of their choice as well as perform at The Winnipeg Art Gallery on July 24 as part of Jazz on the Rooftop.

Fifty-three jazz artists applied for the initial round of Project Cool, a program to support development of Canadian talent, sponsored by the CanWest Global Foundation, the Jazz Winnipeg Festival and the new 99.1 Cool FM.

* * *

Danielle Delorme, a 17-year-old vocalist, has won the annual jazz scholarship awarded by Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts and CanWest Global Communications.

Delorme receives a $400 prize toward fall tuition at the conservatory. Pianist Kenny McLaren and guitarist Kevin Brown won $300 runner-up awards.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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