RTdgE9X8c2While it is true that many big bands don’t have a separate conductor, the MMBJE wouldn’t be where it is today without ours.

For starters, we aren’t just a typical big band playing dance charts. We DO play dances, and quite enjoy that musical outing. [We interrupt our programming for a commercial: we are available for weddings, fundraisers and parties – contact Rob Boniface. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog]. The MBBJE has always been about jazz-oriented big band music – hence the name -, and for that we heavily rely on the leadership of our current musical director Bruce Cassidy.

If you know anything about Canadian jazz, you are very familiar with Bruce’s reputation as a trumpet player, arranger, EVI master, bandleader and teacher. Those of us in the MBBJE have the good fortune of having Bruce guide us to even greater musical heights. As a trumpet player, I am additionally grateful to have someone of Bruce’s talent and experience to provide feedback and mentoring.

Over the past year, we’ve tackled some very difficult charts, including Groovin’ Hard by Don Menza, First Circle by Pat Metheny and some intriguing original compositions by members Gary Martin, Jay Boehmer and Rob Boniface. We could not have performed these pieces nearly as well without Bruce.

I doubt that most members of the audience are aware of what he brings to the band. During rehearsals, Bruce provides clear directions regarding interpretation of the music as well as the occasional tweak to an arrangement. During performances, he is more often found off to the side, but watch closely: he is in total control of the band. A slight movement of his hand or a nod of his head is all that’s needed to nudge the band back on track.

Over the years, we have been blessed by a series of wise and patient directors including Canadian jazz Don Johnston and Ron Collier. We are now benefiting from the experience and musical generosity of Bruce Cassidy, and for that, we are all truly grateful.