CKUA staff and alumni find so many ways to make music
It’s a well-known fact that many members of the CKUA staff, and the
loosely knit and unofficial CKUA alumni association, have exceptional
creative talents on the musical side of things, that go well beyond
programming music or producing shows for the Network.
Robert Goulet at CKUA's 75th Anniversary, November 2002(Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk)
musicians have been part of the CKUA make-up for decades now, and those
individuals have collectively cut a swath through all genres of music. A
generation that was listening to CKUA in the fifties will remember the
voice of one Robert Goulet
, who was an announcer at the station before making his way back to the U.S. to seek his fame and fortune. Marc Vasey
who was a galvanizing force on the live jazz scene as a promoter and
producer, was a trumpet player, while a little known piece of trivia
concerns Holger Petersen, who was the original drummer in Hot Cottage.
The list goes on.
Our current staff strongly reflects those artistic impulses. If it’s singers you want, let’s begin with our receptionist Erica Gayler
who is firmly entrenched in the a cappella scene.Diane Donovan
love of song goes far beyond seeking out the finest recorded
performances of jazz vocalists of the last 75 years, as the
ex-Edmontonian was one of the most popular jazz vocal stylists in the
city before she relocated to Austin, Texas a few years ago.
Of course there is Lark Clark
who was the sparkplug in the vocal group Juba for years, where she her
own world spinning as that ensemble was solidly plugged into African
music. I’ll never forget David Ward
hosting a pretty cool road show that was built around the music of O Brother Where Art Though
and Craig Korth
is simply one of the best
banjo players in the land.
Our good friend Orest Soltykevych
is either singing in or conducting choirs, and between his commitment
to those endeavors and his career that finds him inspiring kids in the
school system, it’s a wonder he has time to program classical music for
three hours every Saturday morning.
Hang out in the hallways of
CKUA and in the time it takes to drink half a cup of coffee you could
put together a pretty good roots band, acoustic or electric, as rhythm
sections are easy to come by.
In the drum chair we have either Grant Stovel
who has played with his fair share of national and regional blues and
roots champs, from Sue Foley and Big Dave McLean to Jim Guiboche and The
Swiftys. If you want double drum duty go no further than our resident
tech producer Paul "Duke" Paetz
who careened back and forth across this country, in a fashion that would
make film director Bruce McDonald proud. Duke was in not one, but two
high wire rock and roll bands, Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm
Orchestra and Jr. Gone Wild. Tony King is our resident bass player.
Of course, there is our librarian Monica Grove
who is known to open her violin case from time to time and serenade friends and family.
Putting an exclamation mark on the troupe is the guitar playing singer Lionel Rault
who has probably stood on as many Alberta stages as any musician on the scene in the last 40 some years.
So given the history and collective talents of CKUA staff past and present, it isn’t a shock that Don Berner
, the former host of A Time For Jazz
, has fashioned one of the best Canadian jazz albums of the year with the recent release of Live At The Beatniq
alto sax player/composer has been leading a superior ensemble under the
Don Berner Sextet banner and this is one hot band where members tear
through the charts while staying on the same page at all times.
of eight compositions, the Live At The Beatniq recording is a complete
team effort from the saxophonist/ bandleader, award-winning drummer
Sandro Dominelli, Berner’s trumpet blowing brother Doug, bassist Marc
Beaudin, keyboard player Rob Thompson and trombonist Audrey Ochoa, who
incidentally is also the bandleader’s wife.
Berner confirmed that
everything heard on the set was “written for the project, with the
exception of Thank You Very Much”, which comes from the book belonging
to respected west coast jazz man Hugh Fraser.
“You can hear that
all the performances are intense but there is a shift in tone from piece
to piece. For instance Marc’s Number 22 has a Latin flavor but we rock
it out on Hugh’s piece,” says Berner who, speaking of intense, took the
ensemble to Calgary last summer for seven shows in three days. It was
the final show of the seven that was documented, and the 70 or so
minutes of music on the disc was culled from three hours of recorded
Berner himself has two compositions that made the final
cut, one being The Road To Banff and another titled Gabriels’ Horns.
The former swings out of the gate as a feisty solo from Ochoa gives way
to Berner who places a warm, spirited tone on top of the piece, that
comes across as a sure fire crowd pleaser.
“What is very
gratifying about this project is that it really does feel like a team,
which you don’t always get when everyone is committed to other projects
and there are long periods when we are not able to work together,” says
Berner who will be presiding over
official release party concerts in
early 2011. The sextet returns to the Beat Niq for a two night stand
Feb. 18 and 19, the band hits the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton Feb. 26
before taking the full bodied, layered sound to the Cellar Jazz Club in
Vancouver on March 3.
The sponsors that supported Berner, those
being the Beat Niq, CKUA, First Alberta Financial and The Copperpot
Restaurant, put their resources behind a very worthwhile project that is
already getting attention from major jazz programmers across the
country.Live At The Beat Niq
from the Don Berner Sextet will be available in Edmonton at indie
stores like Blackbyrd and the Gramophone for the holiday shopping season
and in HMV’s as of January 1.
Who in the extended CKUA musical family is up next for a release?