Put Your (Jazz) Hands In the Air

Weekly ‘Jazz Parties’ at Cabaret Playhouse Kick Off Sunday

Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

If you’ve ever found yourself bored on a slow Sunday night in Montreal, yearning for the excitement of the weekend to continue, Concordia graduate and musician Brandon Goodwin is looking at you—and wants to jazz up your life.

The drummer of local six-piece jazz band B’s Bees, Goodwin is spearheading new weekly “jazz parties”—a flirty blend of jazz music and social mingling to warm up otherwise cold and dreary Sunday nights.

“The purpose of calling it a party is to make it more of an atmosphere,” Goodwin said.

“It’s more of a hang-out thing than just like, ‘Oh, come and be silent and watch my band every week.’ That’s not the point of it; it’s to create an atmosphere.”

Hosting the parties on Sunday nights was a specific choice by Goodwin, who was trying to fill a void he noticed in social outings on the weekend.

“Generally, I don’t really know of something [happening] on a Sunday night,” he said. “That was sort of why I picked that night, because it’s a quiet night.”

Each month, different local jazz ensembles will be showcased at the parties, with special guests making appearances as well. This month’s guest is acclaimed Montreal saxophonist Al McLean.

Goodwin says the new weekly event is a way to keep Montreal’s “very strong” and “internationally known” jazz community thriving throughout the siege of winter. But the event’s nature as a party/show hybrid also makes it an accessible avenue to introduce newcomers to the jazz scene.

That includes featuring more than just big bands on stage for the jazz shindigs: DJ Nicky Raizinz will be spinning electronica-infused jazzy beats between sets—“his own interpretation of jazz,” as Goodwin describes it—and playing out the end of the night to keep vibes and spirits high.

“He’s a really well-known DJ in Montreal for hip-hop and house music, but I’ve known him for a while and he’s really into jazz, so I asked him to do it because it’s something new for him and I think it’ll be really cool,” Goodwin said.

“[The parties are] more of a hang-out thing than just like, ‘Oh come and be silent and watch my band every week.’ That’s not the point of it; it’s to create an atmosphere.” —Brandon Goodwin, drummer of B’s Bees

Concordia Roots

Goodwin graduated from Concordia in December 2012 with a degree in music, and his band came together in May of that year—a creation spurred by the university itself.

“B’s Bees actually started through Concordia. I was given a scholarship in 2012 to put together a group to play the Montreal Jazz Festival […] and they said I could do anything I wanted,” Goodwin said.

“I was like, ‘Ok, well, I’ll do the band I’ve really wanted to do for a while.’ So we played the Jazz Festival; it was our first show. That was a pretty awesome experience,” he continued.

Over half of B’s Bees’ members have Concordia roots—Goodwin and Dalhi Gonthier, the group’s tenor saxophonist, are Concordia graduates, while Joe Ferracuti and Julien Sandiford, who play piano and guitar respectively, are in their final year. Bassist Antoine Ferron and trombonist Christopher Vincent round out the band.

At the jazz parties, the performing bands will be professionally recorded—a mutually beneficial arrangement with a fellow Concordia grad, Goodwin says.

“My friend Perry just graduated from Concordia and he’s starting to do professional recording,” he said. “It’ll be [a way] for him to build up his portfolio. So it’s a mutual working relationship, and we’ll put the tracks online for free downloads.”

Along with audio recording, the shows will be live-streamed online every week, to expand the performing bands’ fanbases and as a courtesy for those wishing to rock without leaving the warm embrace of their toasty apartment on cold nights.

“I mean, if it’s like minus-30 out, people can still watch it at home if they want to,” Goodwin said.

The jazz parties will be pay-what-you-can at the Cabaret Playhouse in the Mile End. Goodwin says it’s an ideal venue for the new event series, comfortably hosting 80 to 100 show-goers.

“It’s a good location in the Mile End; there’s a lot going on there, and the stage is the perfect size for a seven-piece band,” he said, adding how previous venues saw large jazz bands forced to play elbow-to-elbow on cramped stages.

A description of the jazz parties online emphasizes the social aspect of the upcoming events, hinting at partygoers potentially making new friends, chatting with other creative individuals or even meeting a future significant other while attending such a party.

Goodwin’s sales pitch, however, essentially come down to two things.

“If you come to the jazz party, you just might find out that you love jazz, and that you also love to go out on Sunday nights,” he said.

Weekly Sunday Night Jazz Party with B’s Bees and Al McLean // Jan. 12 // Cabaret Playhouse (5656 Parc Ave.) // 9 p.m. // Pay what you can