“Excellent and Slinky” ... “Superb” … “Session Man Extraordinaire” … “Brilliant”
Before I became a journalist and foreign correspondent with a long career traveling the world for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and then later, an author, I was a professional guitar player. This recording is the evidence.
SINGLE MALT was originally released in the fall of 1980 – on vinyl, of course.
It’s an instrumental pop-jazz album: I wrote almost all the tunes and played all the guitar parts. The music grew out of my love of jazz and rhythm& blues and funk, inspired by great musicians such as David Sanborn, Larry Carlton, The Crusaders, Richard Tee, James Jamerson and Amos Garrett.
The album sold very well here in Canada: people liked the music and so did the critics.
The Globe and Mail’s Mark Miller, Canada’s most influential jazz critic, loved SINGLE MALT, describing my playing as “excellent and slinky.” (I always liked that from the country’s major newspaper.) Praise rolled in from across the nation, in English and French. Canadian Musician called the album “delightful,” saying that I was “a session man extraordinaire .. up there with Larry Carlton, David Spinoza and Eric Gale.” Quebec Rock labelled the album “brilliant,” while the St. John’s Evening Telegram’s verdict was “superb.”
When SINGLE MALT was released in 1980, I was a working musician. Leading my own band, I appeared on many national radio and TV programs, including CBC’s Jazz Radio-Canada. I was regularly playing for many well-known Canadian musicians including Ian Tamblyn, David Wiffen, Colleen Peterson and Sneezy Waters. And while all that was going on, I composed and arranged music for several CBC-TV shows and an NFB film.
As a session guitarist, I backed an amazing range of artists passing through Ottawa for TV gigs and performances at the National Arts Centre. Over the years, I played for Tom Jones, Sonny Stitt, Engelbert Humperdinck, Broadway road show pit bands (the Sound of Music for two straight weeks? Never again!), Bobby Vee and once, for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans!
From 1980 to 1982, I was the music director of the immense Canada Day July 1st shows on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, where I led a large band before an audience that reached 100,000 and was broadcast live coast-to-coast. Truth be told, I also did my share of radio commercials for local used car dealers. All in all, it was a gas.
But the most fun was always leading my own jazz groups, playing at clubs and concert halls, and on national radio and TV shows.
The musicians playing on this album, all good friends, were the absolute best in Ottawa. It was a joy recording with them: you’ll hear some great playing on every song.
• Scott Alexander, now in Toronto, is one of Canada’s most-reknowned bass players.
• John Findlay, on keyboards, is now a well-known guitarist in Toronto. A real player!
• Brian Downey, on drums and laughter, introduced many musicians in Ottawa to funk and still plays around town.
• Guy Robichaud, on alto sax, was always filled with energy in the studio and now teaches music.
So download a few tunes or the whole CD, sit back with a Single Malt whiskey (that’s a bottle of Talisker on the cover) and have a listen.
P.S. If you want to learn a bit more about my work as a journalist and an author, including details of my 2010 book SPARK (about an amazing American company that never lays off its employees), check out my website www.frankkoller.com