Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tour Diary: George Colligan Trio at the Cellar in Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver-OK, you're beautiful, knock it off already......
Cory Weeds at the Cellar
I hadn't been in Canada since last August, when I taught at the University of Manitoba Summer Jazz Camp for the last time and then drove to Portland. This weekend, I drove up to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a weekend stint at The Cellar. I've been to Vancouver a bunch of times; it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world(it's so beautiful, it's actually annoying. Alright, alright-mountains, trees, the ocean, architecture-we GET it.). The Cellar is, for me, one of the best jazz clubs in the world. I think it is so because the owner, Cory Weeds, is not only a businessman, but he's a musician as well, and he can see it from both sides. He's created a real treasure for Vancouver and it's musicians and jazz lovers.(Also, they have some of the best brussell sprouts I have ever had! Be sure to order them if you get there...).

 I had never driven into Canada to work; the border crossing was a little tense. There was some confusion with the Border Patrol as to whether my performances at the Cellar was a "ticketed event" or a "cover charge". Um, both? I had no idea. So after some tense moments and about an hour of waiting, I was given the go ahead to cross the border. After seeing the mountains in the distance, I forgot all about the border silliness.

Andre Lachance
Jesse Cahill
I've worked as a leader at the Cellar a number of times over the past few years. Usually, I have drummer Jesse Cahill and bassist Jodi Proznick. Unfortunately, Proznick had to cancel, so Cahill recommended a bassist named Andre Lachance. I was really happy with Lachance; he read my tunes flawlessly, played solid time, and play inventive, technically impressive solos. Cahill has a great swing feel, and great chops; he also interpreted the music perfectly. Although I was a little zonked from the 7 hour trip, I felt like we had a good vibe the first night of the gig.

I spent the next day before the gig relaxing, making a few trips to a juice bar, going for a run along the unbelievably picturesque shoreline, and working on some music in my room(I brought my MIDI keyboard and my computer). I also made a trip over to a restaurant which is owned by my friend Terry Deane. I knew Terry in New York City; he lived in Brooklyn for a number of years before heading back to Canada. He's a genius tenor saxophonist, and was also known as one of the best saxophone repairman in the business. Deane is also a master chef, and decided to quit repairing horns and open a pizzeria. After opening and selling a restaurant in Abbotsford, he opened another one in Vancouver called Pizzeria Barbarella(named after his recently deceased mother.).

Terry Deane making his incredible Pizza
I stopped in to Pizzeria Barbarella to say hello and to sample the goods. I was hesitant, since I've been on a very low-carb diet(I haven't had a piece of bread since March). I figured,"Hey, I'll get a slice and a salad, that will be fine." As I sat down at a table and looked around at what was on other people's plates, I threw caution to the wind and ordered a whole Margherita for myself. I must say that in my life, I've eaten my fair share of pizza; I worked at a pizza joint when I was young, I ate pizza in New York and Italy, and so forth. THIS was the best pizza I've had in my whole life. I'm actually glad I don't live in Vancouver because I would be addicted to this pizza. The crust is the perfect texture, the flavor is almost an emotional experience. I'm just saying you might break down in tears after eating this pizza!The place was packed, and Pizzeria Barbarella just received a liquor license, so I predict success for Deane and his fine establishment.

The second night at the Cellar was better musically and in terms of attendance;it was pretty much a full house. I was feeling more warmed up(I feel like I barely ever get to play piano anymore, so some of my sad licks are starting to come back to me....)and Cahill and Lachance were stretching out more. We had a young guitarist named Alexis Harrison sit in on a few tunes. Harrison had seen a clinic I gave in Nanaimo a few years ago and contacted me on Facebook. She asked me to send her a leadsheet for a tune of mine called "Rose Colored Glass." (She worked it up with her classmates and I thought it sounded pretty good! It's not an easy tune!) It was another good night at the Cellar and I hope to return next year.

I got up at 5 the next morning to beat the traffic back to Portland. It only took 5 and 1/2 hours back. And no border trouble this time. Next stops: New York, Baltimore, and Cleveland!


  1. Am I ever going to hear you perform "Rose Colored Glass" at a NYC gig? I've played your recording of it ad infinitum, but I'm aching to hear it LIVE!

  2. You should check out A Pizza Scholls in Portland:

    Anthony Bourdain approves:


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