As the Director of the Jazz Studies Program and Professor of Jazz Bass, I have found it both humbling and inspiring to work with these extraordinary musicians, both in performance and mentoring the students who come through our program. We are truly a Northern Prairie Jazz Collective: we have brought our different musical talents and experiences to this recording project and are happy to share with you the emerging sound of this particular place.
STEPCHILD introduces listeners to Steve Kirby & the Northern Prairie Jazz Collective. Bassist Steve Kirby is the Director of Jazz Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba, and the Northern Prairie Jazz Collective features current and recent members of the faculty. Over the past decade, jazz has experienced a renaissance in Winnipeg, and the Northern Prairie Jazz Collective expresses the particular energy and character of the northern-central prairie. After a long time just outside the circle of attention, Winnipeg is taking its rightful place in the Canadian and international jazz scene.
Stepchild showcases a range of material, from the traditional to the avant-garde. Original compositions range from the ethereal lead track, Onerionaut, by pianist Will Bonness, to the laid-back blues tune, Things Are Looking Up, by drummer Quincy Davis, and include Steve Kirby’s edgy Wicked Grin and saxophonist Jimmy Green’s luscious spiritual, Forever. Also on the recording are refreshing takes on standards, Magnolia Triangle, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Stole Moments, and Like Someone in Love, and a haunting version of Sting’s Until.
Terrific arrangements, tight ensemble work, brilliant solos, and a powerful pulse are perfectly matched by the irresistible joy these musicians feel about collaboration, the heart of jazz.
Faculty featured on CD:
Larry Roy is our Professor of Jazz Guitar and a founding member of our Faculty. Larry is from a small French community in southern Manitoba. He is a versatile guitarist and has a host of writing credits for film, television and radio. Larry was also the recording engineer for this project.
|Quincy Davis is our Professor of Jazz Drum Set. Hailing from Michigan, he brings a special blend of Motown, rural Michigan and Mississippi we call the “up south” effect. Quincy maintains a busy international touring career, performing with Kurt Elling, Tom Harrell and many others. Our recording features his tasteful blues, Things Are Looking Up.|
Derrick Gardner is the Babs Asper Professor of Jazz Performance. A protégé of the late great Frank Foster, Professor Gardner has been entrusted with the lion’s share of Foster’s original big band charts and arrangements. Professor Gardner himself is a talented composer and arranger, and a ridiculously gifted improviser— check out the solo on Like Someone in Love!
|Will Bonness is our Professor of Jazz Piano. An alumnus of the Desautels Faculty of Music and a native Winnipegger, Will is a versatile and accomplished pianist, and a gifted composer. His composition, Oneironaut, is one of the most elegantly beautiful compositions we’ve ever performed.|
Anna-Lisa Kirby is our fiery Jazz Vocals Instructor and a singer who is both a great storyteller and an inventive musician. Anna-Lisa is becoming known for her memorable arrangements, and our recording showcases a range of them, from the jazz standard, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, to Sting’s contemporary ballad, Until.
|Jimmy Greene was our Professor of Jazz Saxophone for 3 years, and recently moved to West Connecticut State University where he is Assistant Coordinator of Jazz Studies. You can hear Jimmy’s conviction and melodic brilliance in his luscious ballad, Forever. Jimmy was an inspiration to us all, and we wish him continued musical success.|
George Colligan was our Professor of Jazz Piano for 2 years, and we’re glad to have caught his edge and energy on several tracks of this recording. A multi-talented musician who also plays drums and trumpet, George has moved on to Portland where he is an Assistant Professor at Portland State University.
A STEPCHILD is the outsider from within—part blood relative, part legal kin, a family member just outside the warmest attention. A stepchild is challenged to innovate a way to fit into a situation they’re not even sure they can fully appreciate.
To book The Northen Prairie Jazz Collective for clinics or performances please contact:
Jazz Program Coordinator
STEPCHILD is available for purchase at:
Faculty of Music Office
65 Dafoe Road
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Northern Prairie Jazz Collective
University of Manitoba Jazz Studies
U of M Summer Jazz Camp