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Feeling the music
Songevity Jazz Trio brings music outside the clubs and into the schools

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hot off a sold-out show at the Top Knight on Friday night, members of the Songevity Jazz Trio stopped by St. Patrick High School for an intimate question and answer session and workshop with some of Yellowknife's jazz aficionados.

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Abraham Burton launches into a saxophone solo during an afternoon workshop at St. Patrick High School on Saturday. - Danielle Sachs/NNSL photo

Rob Duguay, on stand-up bass, Abraham Burton, on tenor saxophone, and percussionist Christopher Brown held an afternoon workshop geared towards intermediate and advanced musicians on Saturday afternoon.

The crash course in jazz took place in the packed music room, with a few musical interludes from the trio.

"All my best teachers said if you can't sing what you're trying to solo, then you won't be able to do it," said Duguay, when asked how it's possible to sing along while playing.

"How can you play the melody when you don't know how Billie Holiday phrased it? It's poetry."

To demonstrate his point, Christopher Brown started playing a drum solo.

"I'm hearing lyrics in my mind as he's playing. While it's true we do play songs we don't know all the lyrics to, it's an important part," said Duguay.

The trio was visiting from New York City. On top of the sold-out show at Top Knight, they also held a workshop at Range Lake North Elementary School on Friday morning.

"They're all really talented musicians," said Phil Duguay, Robert's brother who lives in Yellowknife.

"We could have gotten easily another show out of the visit. I must have turned away another 60 people looking for tickets," said Phil.

"Yellowknife is crying out for more jazz."

The main lesson out of the afternoon workshop was to know your music and not overly rely on the Real book, a compilation of lead sheets for jazz tunes.

"The people I studied with, you could not show up with a Real Book. You learned from listening and playing," said Abraham Burton.

"I never even thought about what would happen if you showed up with one. I'd get ridiculed, I'd be crucified," he said.

Likening the Real Book to a map, Robert Duguay added that when you're jamming with other people you need to either know the songs or be able to pick them up quickly.

"During a jam session you have to play. It's bothersome when you get up there and the person is like 'I don't know that one,'" said Robert.

"That's a lot kinder than I am. If you don't know the tune, you're not getting on the bandstand. This is not a semester, a year or 10 years in school. This is a lifelong journey and the old stuff is where the treasure is. If you don't know it, that's going out to sail with holes in your boat," said Burton.

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