What’s Rob up to now?
Rob Frayne (tenor sax, b. cl. keys) now is practicing and writing for the Rob Frayne Dreamband and its many dreamy formats. Rob was the leader of Chelsea Bridge and has played with the Angstones. Past concerts/recordings include with: the Shuffle Demons, Mary-Margaret O-Hara, Mary Ann Price (Dan Hicks, Kinks), the Cuban Fence Climbers, Gil Evans Orchestra, Time Warp, Claude Ranger, Fred Stone, Kenny Wheeler, Hemispheres, Rodger and the Ramjets and many others. Besides Canadian folk, jazz festivals and concert tours (over 20). Rob has played at the Bluenote NYC, the Washington jazzfest, and the Boston Gloge jazzfest, also the Soho (London) Jazzfest, delightful gigs in the UK and the Molde (Norway) jazz festival and is on over 30 CDs.
The indomitable Rob Frayne continues to surprise.
Jazz fans in Ottawa and beyond have been rooting for the veteran saxophonist, composer and bandleader for years, long before his life-threatening November 2004 car accident.
The stroke he suffered as a result took away his ability to swallow, never mind his saxophone playing abilities.
It’s been a long and challenging road for Frayne to continue as a musician, but in recent years he’s emerged at the helm of his various Dream Band projects and last fall he even gave his first small-ensemble performance focused on playing tenor again.
This Saturday night, Frayne convenes the latest edition of his large ensemble Dream Band at the Royal Canadian Legion, and below he tells us what’s in store.
I see the Dream Band’s line-up has changed, both in terms of local participants and invited out-of-towners. Introduce me to the newest dreamers and tell me why you’ve asked them to take part.
This time I have a big band “dream” band. I guess every horn player must do this at least once, but I won’t try to out-Shaw Artie. The players are some local and very heavy stars/soldiers of jazz. The Montreal guest troupers are Bill Mahar and Joel Miller. These players love jazz, their instruments, and playing in a large band (14 horns and four rhythmers, two dancers and one story teller). So many personalties!
What new music will the band tackle?
I tend to write more orchestrally, so there is more interplay and counterpoint than in your typical big band score. Over the past four months, I extensively renovated and revised these tunes to match my orchestral big band vision. The music arrangements were inspired in equal parts by Charles Ives, Charles Mingus and Gil Evans.
We’re doing a remake of the Pink Panther Theme (on steroids), a song for my father, Bittersweet, and a new beginning for my tune Cue #6, which is a tribute to Louis Armstrong. Also, the grooviest Yes We Can with Mike [Essoudry] and Don [Cummings] sounding like New Orleans. I know these players will make my music sparkle with their energy and talent.
How did there come to be a dance element to the upcoming concert?
After booking the Westboro Legion, I heard about Duke Ellington playing in 1951 at the Standish Hall in Aylmer, and was inspired to add dance as an improvised element with a version of Mood Indigo — just like one might have experienced in 1951!
The dancers will interpret most of the songs, so there will be lots to watch. Hence the time-travel idea — even the Legion bartender probably wears a bow-tie and striped vest is a temporal match! But no Ouija boards on this gig, just great tunes in the spirit of great bands.
What goals do you have for the Dream Band project?
Well, the Dream Band keeps moulting and it’s a fun and exciting focus for lucky me.
Apart from the Dream Band, what’s keeping you busy?
I try to practice my tenor (sax) so that when I get called to play a wedding for drunken pirates, I’m ready.