Respected across the national jazz scene for more than three decades, the hard-swinging CANADIAN JAZZ QUARTET have established themselves, individually and collectively, among the elite of jazz musicians on air and in recording studios, in clubs and on concert stages, and at major music events and jazz festivals all over the country.
Founded by the late guitar luminary Gary Benson in 1987, the lineup has evolved over the years, but under the long-time current leadership of iconic vibes-master Frank Wright, today’s Canadian Jazz Quartet (FRANK WRIGHT on vibes, TED QUINLAN on guitar, PAT COLLINS on bass, DON VICKERY on drums) remains a standard of excellence in jazz in Canada.
After a record-breaking decade-long run creating new mainstream jazz collaborations weekly for packed houses at leading downtown jazz venues, the classy CJQ is now in their third year in residence at the Old Mill’s Home Smith Bar, where they bring their graceful treatment of standards and original material to “First Fridays”, and showcase a different headlining superstar each month.
Tonight’s featured guest, saxophone great MICHAEL STUART has played and recorded with some of the finest musicians in the world including Jimmy McGriff, Jay McShann, Sadik Hakim, Junior Mance, Kenny Garrett, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Kenny Wheeler, Pepper Adams, Sam Rivers, and Clark Terry. Throughout the late ’70s, he toured and recorded with the great Elvin Jones. As a member of ‘The Jazz Machine’ he played in Germany, Sweden, France, Denmark, the U.S.A., Austria, and The Netherlands. Stuart’s self-produced recording “Determination” was nominated for a Juno Award (1979 Best Jazz Album of the Year) and of “The Blessing”, recorded in 1987, the Globe & Mail wrote “…a compelling melodicist whose extended solos sing serenely as often as they wail…”.
In 1991, he toured the Soviet Union as a featured member of Toronto’s ‘Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra’. A jazz special for television, taped in Budapest, Hungary, followed in 1992. In 1994 he went to New York to join the Franklin Kiermyer Quartet, touring North America, and continuing to work with them until 1999. In 2006, he returned to Boston where he recorded with Jerry Bergonzi and Bruce Gertz. Michael Stuart is currently a Professor in the Jazz Studies program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.