Thursday, September 8, 2016


waking up the city!
When I say art moves me, it's not just painting, it's also music.

I listen to the radio, like most people, I collect CDs, and I purchase songs and albums in the iTunes store.

As with my collection of museum photos that cycle on our television and computer screens, my music collection streams from our iMac to fill our three-story townhouse. I use a combination of the following tools and systems:

  • an iMac computer running iTunes which contains all my music, including the live stream from Jazz FM;
  • an Apple Airport Extreme supplies the core WiFi service from our third-floor den where our Bell Fibe modem supplies internet and television services;
  • an Apple Airport Express duo, one in the living room, the other in the dining room on the ground floor; they receive their network stream over a wired Ethernet connection delivered by a team of power-line adapters that send the data over our electrical wires; the routers are mated to Bose speakers that deliver excellent sound. I use power-line adapters because the re-inforced concrete floors play havoc with the WiFi signal between floors;
  • a pair of Apple TV boxes delivers the audio stream to our bedroom flat screen TV via a power-line Ethernet adapter, and the stereo and home theater set up in the den via an Ethernet connection direct from the Airport extreme;
  • a Bose Soundtouch 20 Airplay WiFi powered speaker supplies music to the guest bedroom;
That relatively simple network setup allows me to stream all my music, including live streams, via iTunes Airplay to six rooms on three floors. It's amazing.

When the music fills the house I couldn't be in a better living environment. The music is nearly as important as the roof, the walls, and the interior decor.

My taste in music has evolved just as my taste in art evolved. Along the way I pruned the genres I listen to. Jazz and blues have been constants. There was a time when I listened to classical music quite a lot. Not so much any more. Although I have to say, Susan and I shared a magical evening attending a live performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons in a little church in Venice (Chieza de San Vidal) not long ago.

I have vivid musical memories. Dave Brubeck's Take Five had me hooked from the moment I heard its first few bars, when I was just a kid. Kathy moved me to share that musical memory earlier this year.

My investment in music includes the modest charitable donations I have made for a number of years now to Toronto's JazzFM. My support for that station goes back to when we lived in Montreal.

A few months ago I was headed to a meeting in downtown Toronto, driving south on the 427, and listening to the station as Garvia Bailey and Brad Barker were working the summer fund raiser down to the wire. To entice laggards like myself, they announced that donors who gave before the morning show closed would be invited to come to the station for a live-to-air morning show in September. That was it. I was hooked. Now to snag the prize.

As luck would have it, they were uncharacteristically avoiding saying the toll-free line number for donors I desperately needed. Finally they did, and I managed to remember it long enough to voice dial it with Siri's help as I drove along in the Big Smoke's hellish rush hour mayhem. With less than ten minutes to go before the offer expired,  I finally got the station volunteer on the phone. The next challenge was fishing my credit card information out. I managed that without rear-ending anyone. Mad skillz, mad skillz I tell you!

This morning I collected my prize. It was painful. Rising at the crack of dawn, out the door at 06h30, plunging into the crazy madness of the 401-427-Gardiner morning mess, I managed to get to the station on Pardee street in Liberty Village at 07h15, just in the nick of time. I drove our car. I would have preferred taking the Honda Shadow, but the weather was ominously threatening, in keeping with the stormy forecast. Discretion is the better part of valor. I didn't want to risk showing up in sodden rain gear. Facing the morning traffic in the hopes of arriving in time, was challenge enough for one morning, thank you very much.

The pain of donation and of enduring Toronto's morning rush hour was amply, I say amply, rewarded.

The live-to-air show was broadcast from the station's Long & McQuade - Arthur Dalfen performance hall and studio.

The show included a mesmerizing duo performance by pianist Mark Kieswetter and bassist Ross McIntyre. The talented June Garber joined in with stunning vocal performances of her own, including Black Coffee, a delicious velvety rendition that suited the frighteningly early morning outing to a tee, though I have to admit that the coffee I was sipping as I tapped my toe and swayed my head just ever so subtly, was softened with a comforting shot of cream.

Garvia Bailey, aided and abetted by just-in-time prompts and silent countdowns by Dani Ellwell, took full advantage of the live duo to turn reporting the morning's traffic and weather into a work of performance art. Think I'm exaggerating? Well, not one bit. She used her voice like a third instrument, weaving the banal information into and around the soft jazz emanating from the bass fiddle and Steinway grand in a way that couldn't have been more poetic and pleasing. Wow!

I was able to marry the familiar voices of Jaymz Bee, Brad Barker, and Mark Wigmore to their faces.

I have become accustomed to hearing all these folks over, and over, and over again, whenever I tune the station in. All that familiarity over six long years now doesn't in the least diminish my listening pleasure. Garvia, Dani, Laura, Terry, Jaymz, Brad, and Mark are an essential part of the tapestry of sound that I would dearly miss if it vanished. It's that fear of loss that prompts my donations to support the station. I still remember when Montreal's jazz station abandoned its jazz programming progressively until it simply vanished. It was as a result of that void that I found Jazz FM. I haven't looked back. To say it's a gem seems very faint praise.  

Part of this morning's wonder was watching how the talented team of musicians and broadcasters delivered a morning show like none other. Seamless is a really good word to describe what I witnessed. It wasn't perfect of course. An on-air cue failed to produce the morning traffic update that Garvia was aiming for. The tiny glitch was greeted with laughter and gentle teasing that underscored just how cohesive this team truly is. It was like watching a downhill skier surprised by an unexpected obstacle, and taking it in stride to complete a spectacular run.

The combined talent of all those performers made the brutally early appointment to reap my reward nothing less than exquisite. The station uploaded a video of the event to YouTube. That's me sitting quietly in the second row:

I couldn't leave without a couple of CDs. Mark and Ross let me have their CD even though I didn't have the cash to pay for it. No worries, I am putting my not inconsiderable e-sleuthing and e-payment skills to the test to pay Mark and Ross their due.

Thank you Jazz FM! A loyal supporter could not have asked for a more fitting acknowledgement and collective thank you.

If you want to get your own copies of the albums I picked up this morning, look no further than your friendly local iTunes store. A simple search will take you right to them.

If you want to risk becoming a Jazz FM addict, click here for the live stream, wherever you are.

Ain't the wired age grand?


SonjaM said...

Jazz is like motorcycling... it moves the soul. Having been exposed to 80's and 90's pop and rock music in my formative years it was the timelessness of Jazz music that kept me sane ;-)

David Masse said...

We are on the very same page Sonja.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

David, fantastic opportunity and I'm envious. You know I love motorcycling; music runs through my veins even as I'm falling asleep and there's a tune in my head every morning when my eyes open.

Very few genres are off limits though I have my favorites. I love radio and take a darn good one on all of my rides. You are correct, the music of the world is at our fingertips now and I very much doubt that most of us appreciate that fact.

RichardM said...

Interesting description of your home audio setup. I used to love music and have it playing all the time whether at work or home. Lately, not so often. Occasionally, I still play music through the Sena but it's rare. Too hard to stay focused on the road and enjoy the music.

Trobairitz said...

Your home radio set up seems very complicated, but at least you get to hear your music no matter where you are in the house.

I have always enjoyed music and listen to a range of genres. Troubadour and I always reference song lyrics in everyday conversation, people think we are weird when we do it.

David Masse said...

That's very poetic Doug "... a tune in my head every morning when my eyes open."

I wish I could say the same.

David Masse said...

Oddly, I find that music while I ride makes it easier to focus on the traffic around me.

David Masse said...

The wonder of long-lasting relationships is how we grow into and around each other in marvelous ways.

Nothing is perfect of course, but it beats the alternative in my opinion.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.