Nine Questions with Morgan Childs

Name: Morgan Childs

Birthplace: Vancouver, BC

Currently residing: Toronto, ON

Musical past and present in one rambling run-on sentence: Born in Vancouver in 1981, grew up in Invermere BC, in the Columbia Valley. Attended the Okanagan Summer School for the Arts in Penticton BC, with influential faculty members like Ross Taggart, Blaine Wikjord, and Campbell Ryga. Moved to Vancouver at age 17 to attend the music program at Capilano College. Graduated with a degree in music performance. Attended Banff Centre International Jazz Workshop in 2002 and 2003. Workshopped with and studied with many of the influential musicians of the past 10 years; Chris Potter, Jim Black, Dave Douglas, Ari Hoenig, Clarence Penn, Django Bates, Kenny Werner, among many others. Have studied drums privately with Byron Landham and Gregory Hutchinson. After 10 years on the music scene in Vancouver, working with many internationally renowned musicians, including Brad Turner, Mike Allen, Bill Coon, Ingrid Jensen, Laila Biali, Phil Dwyer, Bruno Hubert, André Lachance, and the Amanda Tosoff Quartet (winners of the 2007 Galaxie Rising Star Award at the Vancouver Jazz Festival, and the 2009 GM Grand Prix du Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival), I moved to Toronto. Maintain a busy gigging schedule in southern Ontario and accross Canada with such fine musicians as Richard Whiteman, Kelly Jefferson, David Restivo, Adrean Farrugia, Richard Underhill and many others. Happy to be working!

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1. Who are some of your favourite composers, musicians and bands from the past and present?

Past: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Cannonball Adderly, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Frank Sinatra, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Ahmad Jamal, Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Dimitri Shostakovich, JS Bach, Alexander Scriabin, Maurice Ravel, Frederic Chopin. My favourite composers from the Great American Songbook are George Gershwin, Richard Rogers and Cole Porter.

Present: Branford Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Bill Frissell, David Sanchez, Miguel Zenon, Mark Turner, Chris Potter, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gregory Hutchinson, Christian McBride, too many others to list… some Canadian composers in the jazz realm I really admire include Brad Turner, Phil Dwyer, Amanda Tosoff, Christine Jensen, Joel Miller and Kelly Jefferson. There are so many people doing so many interesting things around me though that I never want for good music.

2. Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

Anything Rick Danko sang lead on with The Band. “When You Awake” or “It Makes No Difference” or “The Unfaithful Servant.” That last one, in particular, with it’s dirge-like tempo and arresting, slightly-out-of-tune mournful country circus horn parts kind of kill me every time. Or how about Mahalia Jackson singing “Come Sunday” with Duke Ellington? Yeah, that’s pretty great too.

3. How would you describe your perfect day?

Get up reasonably early and make some strong coffee and a frittata with spinach and mushrooms for breakfast. Drink my coffee, read some emails and facebook for a bit. Have a nice hot shower and a shave. Around noon, maybe some cats come over for a session and we play tunes for a couple of hours just for fun. Lots of laughs, then a light lunch and a long walk… I’m talking 10+ km around the city, through the parks, up and down the streets. Stop somewhere for a really good espresso. Window shop. People-watch. Read a newspaper. Smoke one (and only one) perfect cigarette. There’s two or three ways the evening could shape up to be my version of perfect:

1) A great gig with close friends where we’re all feeling moved to push ourselves to new heights of personal expression, after which we would maybe truck off to a good, unpretentious bar and hang like dogs. Something like how my 30th birthday went down on Halloween night!

2) A dinner out, somewhere nice, with some good wine and good company. Delicious but un-fussy food would be my favourite. A half-dozen oysters on the half shell. Lobster bisque. Steak frites with peppercorn sauce. Creme anglaise with fresh berries for dessert.

3) A glass of Talisker, and the Miles Davis album “Milestones”. On repeat. All night. By myself. Any truly perfect day must involve that record.

4. What would your friends say they appreciate the most about you?

I think most of my friends would say that I am basically kind, loving, passionate, loyal and funny. At least I would hope that’s what they would say. I’m trying, guys, hang in there while I get it together.

5. What is your most valued material possession?

I guess over the past 10 years I’ve put together a solid collection of very nice vintage cymbals. They are precious to me because I use them to create.

6. Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?

I’ve been lucky to meet a number of my musical idols, particular standouts would be Roy Haynes, Ed Thigpen, Dave Holland, Victor Lewis, Henry Grimes and Cedar Walton. For some reason I felt too nervous to walk up to Paul Motian at the Vanguard a couple of years ago. He was just standing there, alone, in the back near the washrooms, and I could have easily managed a meeting. I suppose I felt like I didn’t want to bother him right before he went on to play. I certainly regret not saying something to him now that he’s gone though. Lesson learned. I don’t know if I’d be “nervous” per say, to meet Sonny Rollins, however I think I might burst into tears if I ever get the chance. I just think it would spark some kind of intense feelings I wouldn’t be able to express any other way.

7. If you could blink your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that place be?

Can I have more than one? Can I pick one for each season?

Village Vanguard, Greenwich Village, New York City, autumn.

Top of Panorama Mountain, Invermere BC, winter.

The Main restaurant, Plateau Mont-Royal, Montreal, QC, spring.

My aunt Diana’s deck, with our whole family there having a big BBQ, Ladysmith BC, summer.

8. Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?

I love to travel, so I’d say hitting a few continents that I’ve never been to would be pretty great. Europe, Africa, Asia.

9. Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?

Find myself? The joy is in the search… I don’t ever want to find myself.

 

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