That could describe my first encounter with this talented young man whom I first met at a P.J. Perry gig at the Rex a few years ago and through our mutual admiration of the Edmonton based altoist we got to talking – naturally, I have followed his career path very closely. Now New York based, Dan’s new CD is entitled “Sudden Appearance” and features numerous talented New York cohorts giving voice to Dan’s arrangements and compositions. A few of those musicians will travel to Toronto and the Rex at the end of March – the rest of the big band will be very capably filled by our own stellar talent – including Alex Dean and David Restivo .
The Toronto born and raised saxophonist, composer and arranger is a graduate of the Humber Community Music School, Earl Haig Secondary’s storied arts program and U of T. It was in high school that he came under the spell of the big band – both performing in his high school band and by listening to the legendary Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass.
It was while at U of T he got the idea of arranging for a tentet as his 3rd year recital which featured such names as Colleen Allen and Jason Logue. He also found mentors in Alex Dean and Tim Ries who encouraged his writing and arranging…Tim in particular connected him with an idol of his Jim McNeely and with a phone call Mr. Jamieson was on his way to New York to audition and study with Jim at the Manhattan School of Music. Interestingly, Jim had heard an arrangement of Dan’s at the IAJE – “Easy Living” and was naturally, impressed and so Dan studied for 2 years with Jim – not surprisingly Jim also acted as producer on the recording.
Dan is busy these days teaching, writing, arranging, being in the pit orchestra for a couple of musicals and of course getting all the ducks in a row for the upcoming CD release – slated officially for May – but lucky Torontonians will have an opportunity to snap it up at the Rex soon. I’m pleased to say that local musicians Heather Segger, Justin Gray and Mike Ruby are also featured on the album.
The idea for the album came about as he neared the completion of his Master’s program and MSM – and realized he definitely had more than enough material to choose from to fill said disc.
The recording process is an education in itself, he says. Online fundraising netted $8,000 and then the band had 2 days in studio, in spite of the tight time frame managed to get ahead of schedule in recording – 5 tunes the first day and 3 the next which allowed for more time to “gild the lily” and doing a bit of tweaking, since Dan points out he was already very excited about the product. As the band was in a drummer transition, it was particular coup to be able to enlist the services of John Riley – best known for his work with the Vanguard Orchestra and as Dan enthuses, possibly the best big band drummer anywhere and admits he was a little bit intimidated about giving direction – but no worries. He also enlisted Caitlin Smith to act as manager of the band during the session. After the 2 day recording period he then spent 9 months on mixing.
I was very thrilled to preview the CD – released on the Origin Arts, OA2 label out of Seattle, which features many fine soloists – the arrangements are very mature and sophisticated, from the title track featuring Andrew Gould on sax , Eric Miller on trombone and Matt Holman on flugelhorn to the solid bopping “Chance Encounter” to the textured, Hugh Fraser like “Calming” with Jihye Kim’s vocals soaring above, the swinging “Crunchy Peanut Butter” – featuring Sam Dillon on baritone and Phillip Dizack on trumpet and the lovely “Song for Anna” – with its’ washes of sound and Asian influences…flute solo by Anna Webber.
I asked what it is about the big band format that he finds appealing - what he likes about the big band experience is being a small part of a bigger picture and the importance of the overall shape of the music – although arranging for smaller groups is fun, you get to work with more colour in a larger ensemble.
The arrangements haven’t been performed live in a year so he is looking forward to that aspect – Tara Davidson will be featured on a new piece debuting at the Rex and Jihye will be on hand for “Song for Anna”. His arrangement of “Alone Together” will also be performed live for the first time.
And what’s in store for the future? Well, finding a way to move the band around i.e. tour across the country and hopefully to Europe – no mean feat for a 19 piece group but I have no doubt the enterprising Mr. Jamieson will find a way.
The Danjam Orchestra will be at the Rex Hotel March 30th and 31st at 9:30 and if you happen to be in the New York area on May 15th at Miles Café, 212 E 52nd Street, 3rd floor from 10:00 – 11:30.
For more info about Dan and to purchase your own CD – please visit www.danjam.ca and for futher info on the Toronto segment: