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Home for the holidays? Join in the jam

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There's a jazz reunion in the works as young musicians, many of whom used to hang out at Monday night jam sessions about a decade ago, converge on the city from New York, Berlin, Toronto and Montreal for the holidays.

And Winnipeg guitarist Keith Price has set up a Dec. 29 show combining the out-of-towners and local musicians in a rare chance to perform together.

Price said he had emails from the former Winnipeggers saying they would be in town and decided to do something to "get us all in the same room together" to make music.

Billed as a pre-New Year's Eve Jam, the show at the Osborne Village Inn has a lineup that includes saxophonists Colin Power (Montreal) and Ben Dietschi (Toronto), trumpeter John Pittman (Toronto), pianist Scott Metcalfe (Toronto), bassist Devon Gillingham (New York), drummer Curtis Nowosad (New York), and Price.

There are other musicians in town who have to leave before that show or you could expect to see them there: trombonist Christopher Butcher and saxophonist Paul Metcalfe (both Toronto) and guitarist Derek Ullenboom (Berlin).

And it's a jam session, after all, so who knows who might show up, although pianist Will Bonness, bassist Julian Bradford and saxophonist Neil Watson are expected.

"Everyone will bring a tune," Price says, "but there will be lots of time for jamming."

The show is also a test of Ozzy's as a jazz room, Price says. The venue is trying to expand its musical offerings and the dark basement room is a good spot for jazz. Coincidently, it is a block away from that original weekly jam.

The show is Sunday, Dec. 29, 9 p.m.; $10 at the door ($5 students) or free if you sit in with the band.

There will be other chances to catch these musicians around town during the holiday period.

Drummer Nowosad, returning from New York, where he is studying at the Manhattan School of Music, hit the ground running last Thursday when he performed at the CD release for saxophonist Watson's Move! at the West End Cultural Centre. He played in singer Mira Black's Love Fest on Sunday at the Gas Station Theatre.

Nowosad will lead his own quartet on Friday, Dec. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 28, at Prairie 360. Nowosad, bassist Steve Kirby, pianist Bonness and saxophonist Niall Bakkestad-Legare will perform music from the drummer's The Skeptic & the Cynic CD, standards and new compositions.

And he is looking forward to the Price jam session: "Many of the musicians involved... are not only great friends of mine, but were instrumental in my development as a young jazz musician. It will be great to make music with them again."

Bassist Luke Sellick, also back from New York where he is studying at Juilliard, has to miss that jam; he'll be in Toronto between Christmas and New Year's to play with former U of M piano professor Dave Restivo. "We're doing a few nights at the new Jazz Bistro there, and recording his next album."

Sellick is also doing a house concert with Shannon Kristjanson and Aaron Shorr on Jan. 5 and will join bassist Devon Gillingham for Mardi Jazz on Jan. 7.

"If anybody is looking to say hi over the holidays, I'll be at the Riverview Community Centre making up for lost ice time!"

How Canuck is that?

Fellow bassist Gillingham, the 18-year-old Winnipegger studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, is back in the city for a month and ready to perform and catch up on jazz-listening recommended by fellow students.

The winner of the first Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington student composition contest, with his tune Remember to Forget, is looking forward to the Dec. 29 jam, having played at the current Wednesday night hang jam session run by the U of M jazz studies program at the Orbit Room on Pembina Highway, the descendent of that first hang set up by jazz studies director Steve Kirby.

Gillingham is also performing at Mardi Jazz at Centre culturel franco-manitobain, Jan. 7, with his sextet of drummer Nowosad, saxophonist Bakkestad-Legare, trumpeter Andrew Littleford, guitarist Shorr and singer Joanna Majoko. On Jan. 10, Gillingham switches to guitar and vocals when his rock/jazz band Kobalt performs at the Park Theatre.

Guitarist Derek Ullenboom, another alumnus of the original jam session, will miss the Dec. 29 reunion jam because he'll be on a plane back to Berlin, where he settled and got married after graduating from Toronto's Humber College in 2012.

He has been composing music with a drummer he met at Humber, using electronics and sound design to produce "free, improvised music that we mix and compose after."

Ullenboom is busy playing around Berlin and recently took up the banjo as well, which he plays in a folk group that toured throughout Germany for three weeks in October.

He has "brushed shoulders" with great American guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, who teaches at the Jazz Institute of Berlin. Ullenboom is improving his German so he can apply for a master's program and study with Rosenwinkel.

But right now, he's enjoying a rest from hectic life as a Berliner.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2013 D8

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