Around the time I opted to play creative music full-time, I read an interview with Derek Bailey where he said that, for a creative musician, so-called ‘extra-musical’ activities like curating and organising concerts, series, and workshops; journalistic writing; record production; etc. are as much a part of the job as practicing and performing. Bailey made it clear that, in a field where no commercial logic motivates non-musicians to do such work, the onus is on the players to sustain infrastructures for creative music. 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 record reviews; 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 astonishing 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 field comprising 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), where I served until 2008. During my tenure, I helped to organise Interface Series with dozens of outstanding guest musicians from elsewhere, including William Parker, Lori Freedman, Joe McPhee, and Eddie Prévost who worked with more than one-hundred Toronto creative musicians.
In addition to the Interface Series, I worked with the Board to organise workshops and performances in collaboration with organisations 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 organisational 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 co-directed with Kyle Brenders. A chronicle of the AIMToronto Orchestra, its more recent incarnation, the Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra, and information about their 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 Montreal, 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. Somewhere There continues to exist as a presenting organisation that convenes regular series and an annual festival of creative music.
During the period 2010-16, after having moved to Montreal, I reduced my production and curatorial work considerably, but continued to do occasional projects in this field. Notably, in partnership with Productions SuperMusique (Danielle Palardy Roger and Joane Hétu, directors), I organised Eastern Canadian tours by Evan Parker (April 2011) and Ensemble SuperMusique (October 2013) with the hope to strengthen the network of creative music presenters throughout Ontario, Québec, and the Maritimes.
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, and in 2018, I was named Artistic and General Director, with Karen Ng as Assistant AGD and my co-programmer.