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Mstrkrft

 

Songwriting 101 With Bob Brough

By Jim Dupuis

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Bob Brough
Bob Brough
Saxophonist Bob Brough (pronounced Bruff) has been around the Toronto music scene for decades. He has been well-known as a band leader, sideman, and composer since the 1970s. He appeared on two Juno nominated CDs during the 1980�s with Time Warp, the quintessential Canadian contemporary jazz band, formed by drummer Barry Elmes and bassist Al Henderson. In 2003 Brough released his own CD, A Decade of Favorites, recorded with varying band members and over a ten year span from 1991-2001. The same year he was invited to join Richard Underhill for a project. Underhill would go on to win the Juno for Best Contemporary Jazz album for the resulting CD, Tales From the Blue Lounge. Brough studied woodwind performance, harmony and arranging in private lessons with Paul Brodie and Gordon Delamont during the late sixties, followed by further flute and piano lessons until 1973. For his latest CD, Like a Spring Day, Brough and his partner Sonja Tran, composed songs which may well some day be considered standards. In a conversation with Jim Dupuis of CFBX�s Jazz Notes he discussed the process used to come up with music that would be suitable for a vocalist as opposed to music that was meant to be solely instrumental. Like a Spring Day also features the stunning vocals of singer Carol McCartney, whose recording credits also include Chase Sanborn and the big band Free Flight. Following is that conversation.

JD: Hi Bob. You released a couple of CDs in the last few years. The first one, A Decade of Favorites , which is basically songs collected from 1991-2001and now you have a new one out, called Like A Spring Day . I looked at the Campus/Community Radio Charts, and the CD Like a Spring Day was charting even before it was officially released. I think that's really nice.

BB: Yes, that was really a positive.

JD: Now, you have a double combination this time. The first combination is with Sonja Tran, with whom you wrote and reinvented the standards. That's really cool.

BB: Yes, we are really happy with the response to that. A lot of people are appreciating the style � that reinvention of the standard.

JD: The other combination is that you have a vocalist this time out � although I believe she was on one cut on the previous CD � but, you have vocalist Carol McCartney, who I was lucky enough to see a while back, singing with a gentleman who was doing a Benny Goodman tribute. She has a lovely voice. Where did you find Carol McCartney?

BB: We met many years ago in Toronto in the music scene playing for various functions and I thought to myself, �Boy I really like her voice and if I ever had a situation where a vocalist was required I'd give her the first call, as she just has the clearest voice and just sings any song nice � and straight � and of course this time she's taken on �skatting�, which is really a lot of fun. Until this project with my partner, Sonja, came about where we got about nine songs together which we wanted people to hear and see what they thought about them and make them famous if possible � that was the reason for getting in touch with Carol again and saying, �We've got this wonderful project and would you be a part of it?� She was really up for it, and all this work later we have this wonderful CD and a lot of possibilities for the future.

JD: It is a very good CD and you really have a fine band unit with Stan Fomin on piano, Artie Roth on bass and Kevin Brow on drums.

BB: That's a great band. That band just gets better all the time. They contribute so much � musically and personally � it's just a fantastic band. I love playing with them, whether it's in a quartet setting or with Carole. It's just a wonderful group of people and we're growing together all the time.

JD: They are a really nice rhythm section. I love everyone in your band, but Stan Fomin on piano just blows me away. I hear he's he from the Ukraine or somewhere in Europe ?

BB: Yes, he's actually Russian and he's been in Canada since 1997. He's making his way into film writing and writing for TV as well as other things and playing jazz in my band and also with a few other people in Toronto . He's done a lot of stuff � a musical director for one of the ocean cruise lines for about ten years. He's settled in Canada and is a citizen now and his music is just getting better and better all the time.

JD: That's not surprising. I know, that in the past, you guys have been busy playing in Ottawa and Toronto at gigs and all over the place in jazz festivals. What are you doing this year.

BB: Well, at the moment, we are heavily focused on this CD release for Like a Spring Day and other things will happen later in the year. We have an engagement at the Distillery Jazz Festival later in the month and we have a couple of quartet engagements at some of the local clubs in Toronto , but we are working on some major venue appearances.

JD: Any chance you'll come to B.C.?

BB: Not as of yet, but I'm working on it.

Bob Brough
Bob Brough with The Dan Bodanis Band
JD: You have been on many CDs over the years. I am located in Kamloops , BC and we are about an hour and twenty minutes from Salmon Arm. There is a gentleman from there named Richard Underhill and you played on at least one of his CDs, right?

BB: Yes, as a matter of fact I was very fortunate to get the call from Richard a couple of years ago and that CD which he put together, that I was on, won the 2003 Juno for Contemporary Jazz.

JD: Yes, Tales From the Blue Lounge � I love that CD.

BB: Me, too. I hear it all the time � on the radio and in various clubs. That was a wonderful year, too, because we had the opportunity to play at the Ottawa Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival � which was amazing! Also, a few other jazz festivals around the Toronto area. We didn't make it out to B.C., but that will happen some day.

JD: I remember seeing Richard Underhill with the Shuffle Demons, wearing outlandish costumes. They would march through the audience playing their many saxes and horns. I think I still have quite a few photos somewhere. He was so photogenic.

BB: He really is. He's quite a character.

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