I was originally inspired to write the Nothern Ontario Suite by a story about Duke Ellington. According to the liner notes from a great old record I have called "Ellington Suites", Duke was once driving somewhere around Deep River up in the Ottawa Valley when he was treated to a full-blown display of aurora borealis, an experience any Northern Ontarian can relate to. One night in the dead of winter I was driving right around the same place and sure enough, the same thing happened. So just like the Duke, I got out of the car and took it all in. I felt as though I was sharing a moment with the man who's given us so much of our greatest music.
So here are some of my own impressions of the great white north, where I grew up:
"Ionosphere" is my take on the northern lights.
"May Run Boogaloo": The may run, aka Victoria Day, is the long weekend in late May when, after a long cold winter, people head out to the woods to camp, fish and drink.
"Tiger Lily": In midsummer, tiger lillies are the brightest colour in the northern forest.
"Super City Shuffle" refers to the name Timmins modestly gave itself when it was, briefly, the largest city by area in the world.
"Voices" are what you start to hear after camping near a set of rapids for a few days.
"Abitibi Breeze": On Lake Abitibi, a breeze on the shore equals a gale out on the lake.
...and the rest of the music...
"Mambo #6" is neither a real mambo, nor #6 of anything. The title comes from a comment André Leroux made in rehearsal, when he joked that the new chart sounded like Mambo #5, a Perez Prado hit from the 40's that was covered as a dance tune in the 90's. Something tells me that #6 may not do quite as well on the charts, but you never know.
"Plus Ça Change...", from a québecois expression meaning "the more things change, the more they stay the same", was written in November 2008 during the heady days after Obama's victory. I originally called it "Change In The Air"...so much for optimism.
"Later Joe" was written by Jean Fréchette a few years ago. The title is his answer to the question: "Hey Jean, when am I gonna get the chart you promised me?" It was well worth the wait!