Toronto Arts Ensemble - Cityscape - 7 Arts

by Toronto Arts Ensemble

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In 1989, I assembled an all – star band to perform at the Crystal Awards Gala at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, honoring the achievements of those who had made outstanding contributions to radio over the past year. I was accorded a decent budget then arranged a 10 -piece ensemble consisting of a some of Canada’s finest jazz musicians after which most players from the night and others: Don Thompson/vibes – Pat LaBarbera/tenor saxophone – Campbell Ryga/Alto & Soprano saxophone – Kevin Turcotte/trumpet – Terry Promane/trombone – Kirk MacDonald/tenor saxophone – Ted Quinlan/guitar – Scott Alexander/acoustic bass – Dave James/drums – Memo Acevedo/percussion and brilliant arranger and conductor John Cheesman, were brought into the recording studio two years later.

That evening in 89’, residing under my hands, Glenn Gould’s donated concert grand piano. Down front of the players, a few charts scribbled for the occasion. Sensing something unexpected may occur, I invited a friend record. Late that evening during playback, I heard something electric – a vitality, a sense of urgency, a spark that recalled the enthusiasm, musicianship, and camaraderie on the bandstand. I began to imagine, what if?

We raised the funds and hired ace engineer Hayward Parrott – long on experience and expertise recording horns, large ensembles and strings for films and albums. The result was a high-energy, easy-blowing session and wonderfully executed album. There wasn’t much time to explore all options. It was a time of high musician employment – some were touring, others teaching, the rest locked in Toronto’s robust studio scene; time was tight.

I had a few compositions stored – Don Thompson volunteered one from a file cabinet crammed with gorgeous material and Ted Quinlan penned a bluesy swing number. We also included a couple standards. Months after the session we could draw on the compositional talents of Kirk MacDonald and Pat LaBarbera when invited to play festivals and club gigs and then an additional recording session at CBC radio. In 1994, Don Thompson was awarded SOCAN Composer of the Year for the track, Night Sounds.

Cityscape was originally released in 1992 as The Jazz Report All-Stars – Moments Notice. The recording remained hidden on the perimeter of jazz radio; not for lack of talent but for lack of marketing and the nature of how music was delivered and promoted by mail twenty-four years ago.

I’ve always prized this session; the outstanding musicianship, the compositions, the magnificent big band drumming of Dave James and most of all the brilliant arrangements of John Cheesman, Don Thompson and Ted Quinlan. We dedicate this update to our head arranger John Chessman who is one of Canada’s under-sung heroes. John, this one’s for you!

When players go the extra-distance, and invest soul, mind and heart in the music, what’s left behind is something uniquely timeless; music for all ages. I hope you agree.


released November 20, 2016

1. Moment’s Notice *
2. Night Sounds
3. Cityscape *
4. Gershwin in Blue *
5. When I Fall in Love *
6. Blue River *
7. Bricks & Bones
8. Along the Waterfront *

Produced by Bill King & Greg Sutherland
Recorded at: McClear Pathe Studios in Toronto
Engineer: Hayward Parrott
Re-mastering: Jesse King
Don Thompson - vibraphone
Bill King - acoustic grand piano
Pat LaBarbera – tenor saxophone
Kirk MacDonald – tenor saxophone
Campbell Ryga – alto and soprano saxophone
Kevin Turcotte – trumpet
Terry Promane – trombone
Scott Alexander – acoustic bass
Ted Quinlan - guitar
David James – drums
Memo Acevedo – percussion
Arranger: John Cheesman – tracks *
Bill King compositions 3, 4, 7, 8, Night Passage Music (SOCAN)
Don Thompson - Night Sounds – Christopher Lambert Music (SOCAN)
Ted Quinlan – Bricks & Bones – Vol Music (SOCAN)
Moment’s Notice – John Coltrane – JOWCOL Music (BMI)
When I Fall In Love – Eddie Heyman/Victor Young – Alfred Music Publishing



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