The jazz world lost a major player on Monday with the unexpected passing of trombonist and band leader Dave McMurdo.
I didn't know Dave well, but in the few interactions I had with him - either as a presenter or an audience member - his passion for jazz was clear. Over the course of his career, Dave was an advocate for the outstanding Canadian jazz musicians and composers making their mark across the country and around the world. Seeing his band always meant seeing the best jazz musicians in Canada. His influence was widespread; the accolades and testimonials I've seen from former students and musical colleagues demonstrate the positive effect he had on those with whom he worked.
Peter Hum, on his Ottawa Citizen blog, re-tells a story which might sum up Dave McMurdo in a few simple lines: straight to the point, and passionate about education. The story goes:
"The Ottawa saxophonist Richard Page, who attended Mohawk College, had this recollection of McMurdo's wise counsel:
I was jamming with a couple of buddies in first year at Mohawk and we were playing Another You. Dave stopped, looked into the classroom, and threw the door open - "What's the chord in the fourth bar of the tune?"
"G7," I replied.
"Flat nine! It doesn't mean anything without the flat nine! So make sure you play a f---ing A flat!"
....and I have ever since."
For a complete obituary, please see the article in the Hamilton Spectator.
I don't think there's much more I can say that hasn't already be said. Dave McMurdo's last big band recordings featured the music of Phil Nimmons; here's a track called "Nufsicisum". If you read the title backwards, you get "Musicisfun" - a mantra by which I think Dave lived every day.
Thanks Dave, for your music, your leadership and your passion.