Around the time I made the commitment to play creative music full-time, I read an interview with Derek Bailey who said – and I paraphrase – that, for a creative musician, so-called ‘extra-musical’ activities like curating and organizing concerts, series, and workshops; journalistic writing; record production; etc. are as much a part of the job as practicing and performing are. Bailey made it clear that, in a field where no commercial imperative impels non-musicians to do such work, the onus is on the players to sustain infrastructures in which creative music can survive and, maybe, thrive. I have always taken this responsibility to heart.
In the 1990s, while living in Guelph, Ontario, I hosted a weekly radio program, ‘Brilliant Corners,’ on CFRU; produced underground concerts by creative musicians from Toronto and elsewhere; wrote some CD reviews; and was a Board member and served in various directorial roles for the then-fledgling Guelph Jazz Festival.
In the early 2000s, I worked as a road manager for elaborate tours throughout North America with the fifteen-member Saigon Water Puppet Theatre, a company from Vietnam performing gorgeous traditional puppetry and live music, and B’Net Marrakech, an astounding all-female music group from Morocco performing Berber, G’nawa, and Rai repertoires at big theatres, folk festivals, and various other venues.
Moving to Toronto in 2003, I began playing in the scene of primarily young creative musicians. Toward the end of 2004, I was approached by Ken Aldcroft, Rob Clutton, Nick Fraser, and Joe Sorbara to be the fifth founding Board member of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto). I kept this position until the end of 2008. During my tenure, I helped to organize Interface Series with dozens of outstanding guest musicians from elsewhere, including William Parker, Lori Freedman, Joe McPhee, and Eddie Prévost, collaborating with more than one-hundred Toronto creative musicians.
In addition to the Interface Series, I worked with the Board to organize workshops and performances in collaboration with organizations like Nuit Blanche, the Music Gallery, and the Guelph Jazz Festival. I also produced the first of my ‘cartographic compositions,’ Music(in)Galleries, as an extension of my work with AIMToronto, in July 2006. Indeed, the concept for this series of pieces straddles notions of ‘composition’ and ‘curatorial work’ and its execution has demanded commensurate skills that my previous organizational work had helped to foster. More information about my series of cartographic compositions is available here.
Another outcropping from my work with AIMToronto is the AIMToronto Orchestra, which I still co-direct with Kyle Brenders. A chronicle of the AIMToronto Orchestra and information about its recordings are available here.
Certainly my most elaborate project as a producer and curator has been Somewhere There, a venue for live creative music in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood that I opened in September, 2007. I managed the venue independently until August, 2010, and during that time, it hosted more than 850 performances of live creative music by more than 1000 different artists, including outstanding international musicians like Evan Parker, William Parker, and Ab Baars as well as virtually every committed creative musician in Toronto. In August 2010, I stepped down from running Somewhere There prior to moving to Montréal, while a team of fifteen Toronto creative musicians took over the administration of the venue and moved it to its Sterling Road location, where live creative music was presented almost every night until noise complaints forced its closure in early 2013.
Since I have moved to Montréal, I have reduced my production and curatorial work considerably, but continue to do occasional projects in this field. Notably, in partnership with Productions Supermusique (Danielle Palardy Roger and Joane Hétu, directors), I have organized Eastern Canadian tours by Evan Parker (April 2011) and John Butcher (postponed as of April 2012) with the hope to strengthen the network of creative music presenters throughout Ontario, Québec, and the Maritimes. I have served on the Productions Supermusique Artistic Committee, and have served as guest curator, alongside Jean Derome, Lori Freedman, and Joane Hétu, for the long-standing Mercredimusics improvisation series at Casa Obscura in the autumn of 2011.
In addition to my activities producing and curating live music, I have co-produced several records with Jean Martin, including William Parker, At Somewhere There and the AIMToronto Orchestra, Year of the Boar, both on Barnyard Records.
In February 2017, I was named the Artistic Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival.