05 February 2014

Brooklyn Babylon a JUNO nominee for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year

2011 JUNO Awards Statuette

Nominees for the Canada’s music awards, the JUNOs, have been announced, and Brooklyn Babylon has been nominated for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year. It’s our second JUNO nomination — Infernal Machines was nominated in the same category four years ago — and we’re incredibly excited to be nominated once again. Winners will be announced at the JUNO Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony in Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 29th.

It’s always an honor to be nominated (yes, cliché; yes, true). It’s especially humbling to be nominated alongside other artists doing such strong, distinctive work. But this year, it goes deeper than that — I have personal connections to all of my fellow nominees that go back many years: Christine Jensen and I were at McGill together in the early ’90s (long before I met her sister) and her bigband chart “Vernal Fields” (her first, I believe?) was an early and abiding inspiration. Marianne Trudel began at McGill just after I finished up but before I skipped town, and even back then it was clear she had something to say. Earl MacDonald is yet another McGill alum, slightly before my time, but we had many friends in common, and we connected later in NYC via the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. And the only nominee who’s isn’t a McGill alum, Brandi Disterheft, is someone who went to my high school, Handsworth Secondary in North Vancouver. In fact, the last time I played piano in public was at a concert in honor of our high school music teacher, Bob Rebagliati, who was retiring, and Brandi was playing bass. (I probably shouldn’t have played; Renee Rosnes, another Handsworth alum, was also in the room.)

Keep in mind this is just in my own category — Mike Rud and Sienna Dahlen, two more comrades from my Montreal days, are nominated in the vocal category for Notes on Montréal.

Discussions about jazz tend to lionize individual musicians. But jazz really isn’t really shaped by individuals, it’s shaped by the scene — by communities of musicians who come up together and feed off each others’ energy and ideas and priorities. I feel incredibly lucky that in my formative years, I got to be involved in scenes that also fostered all these amazing, inspiring folk. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with everyone in Winnipeg.

Even if it means braving temperatures like these.