He's in early, often hours before a concert starts, to carefully set up microphones and then fine-tune them during the pre-concert rehearsal/sound check. And he's out late, after the listeners have gone home and musicians have cleared their instruments from the stage. Only then can he can finally coil all the cables and stow away the microphones, stands, and assorted audio equipment.
If you have attended a GigSpace concert in the past year you have probably seen him. Marc Bright-Chochlekov can often be observed sitting quietly, very quietly, behind the window in the sound booth at the back, listening intently and making the best possible recording of each unique jazz performance. Since January 2013, he has volunteered as GigSpace's recording engineer, creating archival recordings of the special performances, that won't and can't ever be repeated.
"It has been a wonderful opportunity for me," Bright-Chochlekov said about his first ten months recording. He's currently studying second-year music at Carleton University, and plays guitar when he's not paying close attention to other musicians' music.
As the expression goes, "audio is half the video" - and that applies even more so with video of live jazz performances. Since spring, Bright-Chochlekov's concert audio recordings have significantly enhanced the quality of our video stories which originate from GigSpace and feature concert performances.
When we are busy safely rigging a camera above musicians' heads to get the best possible angle, there's no time to also ensure the highest audio recording quality. We've been delighted to be able to use Bright-Chochlekov's concert audio recording in our videos - watch for his name in the well-earned credits at the end.
– Brett Delmage
Watch our video Of Jesse Stewart and Hamid Drake's concert, featuring our overhead camera and Marc Bright-Chochlekov's concert audio recording
“I realized that October 31st marked my 51st anniversary from my first gig and I have three records out on my own name,” guitarist, composer, and improviser Roddy Ellias told OttawaJazzScene.ca recently. But now he's working hard to change that as he gets ready to record two albums of his own and appear on a third this year.
As part of that process, his jazz trio, with Thom Gossage on drums and Adrian Vedady on double bass, is performing at GigSpace on Saturday, The concert will preview his album of all-original tunes which they will record in early December. Listeners can expect melodic music influenced by Ellias' years of playing both jazz standards and chamber music, and the wide spectrum of moods, rhythms, expression and colours that happen with Gossage and Vedady.
“I just find that I don't really want to record something until I have something good to offer. I don't like to just make records because I like making records. When I've compiled enough good tunes and I've worked at them enough then... it's time.”
Ellias would have been pressed to find time earlier to record in the manner he prefers. In this year alone, he was named as Canada's only Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association in April, organized the inaugural Guitar Now! Festival (which included renowned guitarists from around the world) at Carleton University in May, and wrote two commissioned pieces this summer, including one for the German Meininger Trio. All that on top of his 2012-13 GigSpace concert series and teaching at Carleton University and in martial arts.
And for the past two decades, Ellias taught music full-time at Concordia University – and commuted 12 hours a week to and from Montreal as part of that.
“I'm going to sort of make up for years of teaching. When I was teaching at Concordia University that was my job and I had to work hard at it. It took a lot of energy and time. I just didn't have time until retirement,” Ellias said.
Of course, the influence of his mentor, guitarist Nelson Symonds might also be a factor. Ellias once asked Symonds why didn't don't record much, and Symonds replied “It takes away time from my music.”
It was in Montreal that Ellias first met the musicians in his trio.
Ellias was first introduced to Adrian Vedady when teaching a jazz improvisation class during his first year at Concordia. Vedady sat in, although he had already taken the course. They started playing together a year after that, and “reconnected four or five years ago.”
Then Thom Gossage and Ellias met about ten years ago, also in Montreal.
“I was looking around for the right percussionist and someone recommended Thom. He did a phenomnal job. One things I like about Thom is he's like a musician first and also a drummer / percussionist. That's just his tool. He really thinks compositionally and colours. He's a very musical guy, way more than a drummer. I like that approach. We really connected on the bandstand with Adrian.” Ellias said.
And what about Ellias' own role in the trio, in addition to composing original music?
“I'm comfortable with my playing. I've been practicing and so that's good.”
Practicing. And fidgeting.
“I'm one of these people who fidgets and fidgets with the tune forever so it's always changing.
I like that. I don't just write a tune and that's it. I do fidget. Constantly. Tweaking. Rewriting the tune. As soon as I hang up I'm even going to be rewriting 'Evening Sky Dance', which I actually recorded a few times. This is actually a totally different arrangement.”
It's behaviour that might be expected by someone who is both an accomplished improviser and composer. But the time for fidgeting will soon end – at least for this version – as the trio hits the GigSpace stage on Saturday, and then the recording studio.
“It's a nice group. We connect well. I really like playing with them and we have a good connection and it's time to put some of these tunes on record and move on.”