"I believe that the music that I play affects people by lifting their spirits. Blues, contrary to some opinions, is meant to lift the spirit, not dampen it. By being 100% committed to what I do and being able to express that through music and through my passion for music I think helps raise people up."
Pat Carey: Maple Jazz & Blues Navigator
Pat Carey, originally from The Pas, Manitoba, was born into a musical family. At the age of six he began his early musical learning studying the piano, which lead him to start learning the saxophone by age thirteen. He earned a degree in music, with a Major in Performance from the University of Manitobafrom 1977 to 1982. Carey during those years went on to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra sharing the stage with many of the visiting jazz greats. Pat is a 3 Time Juno Award Winner - 2014 (Downchild), 2006 (Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne), and 1991 (Downchild). He is also a 9 Time Maple Blues Award Winner for Horn Player Of The Year, 2005, 2007 (Downchild) and a Jazz Report Award Winner - 1998 (Downchild). Pat is a busy freelance musician / producer / educator and has appeared on over 75 recordings, 6 of which were Juno nominated and 1 nominated for a W.C. Handy Award. Pat has performed and open shows with: Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Lionel Hampton, George Thorogood, Joe Cocker, The Beach Boys, Otis Rush, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, James Cotton, Dan Ackroyd, Edwin Starr, Sam Moore, Little Anthony, The Coasters, The Shirelles, The Drifters, Tommy Roe, Richie Cole, Louis Prima Jr., Jamil Sharif, Steamboat Willie, Colin James, Colin Linden, Ron Hynes, Powder Blues Band, Jim Belushi, Sam Myers, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Duke Robillard, Junior Watson, Lou Pride, Michael Powers, Jason Marsalis, Solomon Burke, Al Green, April Wine and many others.
Pat has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Scandinavia. He also performed for the Canadian Armed Forces in Israel and Cypress. You can hear Pat with Downchild Blues Band, Chuck Jackson & The Allstars, Bradley & The Bouncers, Raoul And The Bigger Time, Sophia Perlman and the Vipers, Lou Pinto, and many others performing on a weekly basis. In 2012, Carey was involved in a live concert documentary that was produced outlining the 40-year career of the Downchild Blues Band. Through their musical legacy Downchild, had a huge impact on Canadian and American culture, influencing a new generation of young musicians including Colin James, Jeff Healey and many more to continue the blues tradition in Canada. Downchild was the inspiration for actor Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers phenomenon. A diverse group of Canadian musicians and business people formed the Iridescent Music Company, in 2002, which Carey became the President and Director of Music Production and Promotion Jazz and Blues. Sharing his musical skills, with this new company his next project is an all-original Jazz CD featuring many of the greatest Canadian Jazz musicians.
Interview by Michael Limnios Photos by © Lori Hoddinott / All Rights Reserved
How has the Blues and Jazz music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
I have been very fortunate in my career as a Blues and Jazz musician/Saxophonist to be able to travel extensively. I have performed all across Canada and the United States. I have also performed in Germany, Israel, Cyprus, France, Denmark and Norway. The biggest thing I have taken away from all of my travels is that every country has its own unique character and culture that I enjoy exploring when I am in those countries. As different as countries can be with culture and language people are all brought together through music. Music is truly a universal language that unites all of us in this Big World!!!!
How do you describe your sound and music philosophy? what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?
My sound and music philosophy stems largely from listening to Blues and Jazz from the 1920's to the 1970's. My Father took me to hear Count Basie when I was 13 years old and Eddie 'Lockjaw" Davis was featured on Tenor Sax and he absolutely made a lasting impression on a young boy from Northern Manitoba in Northern Canada!!!! Bands such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson were all big influences. The Blues music of 1930's Kansas City was a huge influence. Artists such as Big Joe Turner, Jay McShann and Bennie Moten made a lasting impact on me. My favourite Sax players were Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Phil Woods, Eddie Harris and Wayne Shorter. Listening to all of these players continuously throughout my youth led me to develop the sound that I have today.
As far as local music circuits are concerned, I have been performing with friends that I met in Toronto in 1984 to this day, so 36 years of playing music together. We have all taken different paths at one time or another over the course of our careers, but we always seem to end up back together. There is a strong emotional connection beyond music that has been created by this lifetime bond!!!!
Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I have had the pleasure of meeting and performing with these Jazz Artists: Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn, Mel Torme, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Cavallo, Ira Sullivan, Richie Cole, Jamil Shariff and Jason Marsalis Blues Artists: Otis Rush, Dr. John, James Cotton, Tom Lavin and the Powder Blues Band, Colin James, Colin Linden, Sam Myers, Duke Robillard, Junior Watson and Johnny Rawls. These have all been important experiences with life lasting memories. The best advice that I was ever given was by the older musicians that I grew up playing with. They said, "before you start to try and improvise on songs you should learn the melodies to the songs first"!!! Great advice!!!
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Performing with Jimmy Cavallo in Fort Lauderdale a couple of years ago, Willie McCumber, Louis Prima's original piano player walked through the door. He was 92 years old. Of course, Jimmy got him up to play with us so I had the privilege to play Jump Jive and Wail with Willie and he played the piano solo from the original recording!!! Amazing memory!!! Also, performing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans with Johnny Pennino and Bobby Lenero around 15 years ago, Louis Prima Jr. walked through the door and of course he jumped on the bandstand to perform with us so that was a great memory as well!!!
"If I had to travel in a time machine I think I would go to Harlem in New York City in the 1930's for an entire day and night to go to the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theatre, the Lenox Club and the Rhythm Club to hear such Artists as Duke Ellington, Willie the Lion Smith, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson, Sonny Greer, Louis Armstrong and Ethel Waters. I think that would be an amazing experience!!!" (Pat Carey / Photo by © Lori Hoddinott)
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I am lucky enough that I am able to continue to perform the styles of music that I love, Blues and Jazz so I don't miss the music of the past. As far as the future of Blues and Jazz is concerned, many of the Legends of this music are passing on but they have left an amazing legacy that quite a few of the younger artists are embracing and making their own and carrying the Torch. Great music will always live on!!!
Make an account of the case of the blues in Canada. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?
I have been playing Blues in Canada since 1984. I joined the Downchild Blues Band in 1985 and have worked with them consistently until this day. I really can't say that there was a period of time that was more interesting than others. Blues has its ups and downs and it rides the crests of that wave, but it is always there, deep at the core.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?
The most important lessons I have learned from my experiences in music is to always be professional, care about what you do and how you do it, and above all, be passionate about what you do!!!
What is the impact of Blues and Jazz on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?
I believe that the music that I play affects people by lifting their spirits. Blues, contrary to some opinions, is meant to lift the spirit, not dampen it. By being 100% committed to what I do and being able to express that through music and through my passion for music I think helps raise people up.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
If I had to travel in a time machine I think I would go to Harlem in New York City in the 1930's for an entire day and night to go to the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theatre, the Lenox Club and the Rhythm Club to hear such Artists as Duke Ellington, Willie the Lion Smith, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson, Sonny Greer, Louis Armstrong and Ethel Waters. I think that would be an amazing experience!!!
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