012806 John Geggie, Cuong Vu, and Kevin Breit, Ottawa, ON

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When I was in my first year of university one of my profs arranged a jazz trio to play for one of our classes.  I only remember one member of the trio – John Geggie – but I remember his performance that afternoon in my mind’s eye as vividly as if it were yesterday.

John was young and talented, but what did I know?  This was the first time I had heard a live jazz combo and it was a style of music I had never listened to at all.  What I did know (at the time) was that music was the single most important thing in life, and clearly this John Geggie fellow knew it too.  Watching him stand in the corner of the lecture hall and play his double bass with ferocious finesse, his eyes snapped tightly shut in REM-like concentration was inspiring and enthralling.  

During the Q&A afterward I was too flummoxed to ask anything more intelligent than what that thing attached to the headstock was (it was a drop “C” button/contraption).  Regardless, I’ll always have John Geggie (and Professor Gillmor) to thank for my introduction to live jazz.

But this ticket isn’t from that ‘show’ (which wasn’t actually a show as much as it was a live series of audio examples to accompany a lecture), nor is this ticket from any of the dozens of times I’ve seen John Geggie play around town since he opened my ears to live jazz (the man has lived his life as an absolutely integral member of the Ottawa music scene playing jazz, classical and improv all over the city, always).  

No, this ticket is from January 28th, 2006, the time he asked trumpet virtuoso Cuong Vu and my favourite living guitarist Kevin Breit to join him for a series Geggie was hosting at the National Arts Centre’s 4th Stage.

And what a show it was.  Three astounding players with their ears wide open bouncing fragments of brilliance off of each other (and jamming out the especially good parts) for ninety minutes straight in a small, intimate room just a stroll from my house.  It was quirky, angular, and beautiful.

For John Geggie I’m guessing it was just another instalment in an endless string of incredible musical happenings, rehearsals, meetings, and mashups that he calls life.

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