A Behind the Scenes peak!
Although Janice studied composition while earning her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at McGill University, it was not until a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts that her composition skills started to take flight. With solid encouragement from Don Thompson during the Banff residency, individual studies with him in his Toronto studio, and an artist residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (Florida), Janice has created an impressive body of work. She has also been commissioned to write music for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra.
Below is a little background from Janice on some of the music you will hear on her CD's.
SHE'S HIP (2002)
This piece was written while I was at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Secretly I was thinking of a pretty cocky bunch of words to it; I think this tune may have been the piece that gave me the courage to continue playing and composing. Its catchy melody makes it a piece that audiences immediately recognize, and it has been purchased all over the world.
Round About Bop
This composition literally was in my head one morning when I woke up. I had to get up and write it down. While the middle section was less clear, what I did that morning was draw the shape of the melody yet to come. The piece is based on the chord changes from the tune I've Got Rhythm which has been used with different melodies countless times since it was originally composed. The second part of the song that follows the solos came to me while I was out inline skating one afternoon. No idea why!
In 1996 I was selected to attend David Leibman's International Saxophone Master Class. I met people from all over the world there, but the one that I have remained friends with is saxophonist Juan Alzate, who resides in Mexico where he performs and teaches. This is a joyful song dedicated to him. Larry Roy wrote the middle section which really helped to balance out the piece.
Georgia on My Mind (arrangement only)
I really like this evocative arrangement which is haunting like the idea of Georgia might be for someone who is missing the place. The experience of recording this is very memorable because it is the closest in my life so far that I have been in the presence of magic. Sounds hokey, perhaps, but we finished the first (and I think only) take of the piece and literally no one could move for several seconds afterwards because we were all transported to a different plane by the experience. I will always be grateful that my Dad just happened to be in the booth to hear that one piece as we recorded it.
Jump for Joy
We were about to take a lunch break during our first day of recording, and Hugh Fraser suggested that we just jam something out. This is the result! Comprised of a basic "hand jive" rhythm with a blues progression and a spontaneously composed sax melody, I love the way the piece transitions seamlessly from the groove to a straight-ahead swing tune during Hugh's burning piano solo.
I dedicated this piece to one of my nephews, who was little at the time and now towers over me. I think it was the energy and impish twists of the chord changes that made me think of him when I was deciding what to name the tune after I finishing it.
A Life Worth Remembering
This piece is dedicated to Ann Ross, an important figure in the development of social services for the Winnipeg's less fortunate residents. She passed away while I was in Toronto studying composition with Don Thompson, and this was the piece that resulted.
(Ya Gotta) Kiss a Few Frogs
Written for a friend who quoted her mother's sage advice when another of her romances went down in flames. The quote is something to the effect of having to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. Happily, that was exactly her experience and she now has a wonderful life partner!
A Tender Heart
A little autobiographical. Let's leave it at that!
ANYWHERE BUT HERE (2011)
The Houston Shuffle
I wrote this piece the day after I attended a wonderful concert by saxophonist Houston Person. I was simply delighted to have heard a concert of main stream jazz delivered without apology and with such a joyous musical spirit. The Houston Shuffle has been purchased more than any other of my recorded tracks, all over the globe.
Anywhere But Here
I was actually working on my commissioned piece for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra when this piece arrived. The weather was -50 C with the wind chill that particular day in Winnipeg, so I thought the title fit this lively Latin piece. Winnipeg has exported an incredible number of well-known artists over the years, and I hypothesize that one of the reasons is that Winnipegers are motivated to stay indoors and create music for at least a few months every year!
When I Go Away
This piece is one of the few that "made the cut" from my time at McGill. During the four years it took to complete that degree I maintained a long distance romance with someone in another city. It was so hard leaving after our short time together at holidays and over the summer, and that wistfulness is what I hear in this song. Would like to mention that Don Thompson added some more sophisticated harmonies and Ron Halldorson suggested the introductory vamp that was incorporated onto the recording.
The Pillaging Pug
I was privileged to be the guardian of a wonderful black pug named Satchmo for close to 16 years. He had an addiction to tomatoes...found that out the hard way! Eventually we put up a fence that thwarted his pillaging, and after that he would stand and bark furiously at the hapless tomatoes. You can hear him skulking around the patch. Special thanks to my great friend, dummer Jordy McIntyre, who really assisted with the creative evolution of this piece.
Good Neighbours (Make Great Fences)
Dementia has profoundly impacted my life, initially with my beloved aunt and then with my own Mother, her sister. This piece poured out of me complete with the lyrics. It has taken a long time for me to be able to hear it without tears of grief.
Song for Selim
Quite a ways back in my lineage I had a Jewish great-grandfather, who married outside his faith. I have often wondered how that choice was for him and whether he was lonely practicing it on his own or not. This piece has a Jewish music influence so I named it for him.
A Harbinger of Swing to Come
This is a small band version of the piece I was commissioned to write for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra. I had set out to fool around with various groupings of the eighth notes in the time signature (a la Blue Ronda a La Turk by Brubeck) and this is the result.