Scene And Heard Magazine
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Aug 2002
Interview with Nick "Brownman" Ali after the 6 Degrees Of Syncopation
performance as part of the 2002 Fringe Jazz Festival.  During this show
Brown performed with 6 groups through the course of one evening -
4 of them his own - N.A.T., CRUZAO, GRUVASYLUM and MARRÓN MATIZADO
by Antoine Tedesco
Antoine: So Nick The Brownman - I have 6 short questions for you.  You ready? How close do you feel is the Toronto jazz community?

Brown: I think it's a pretty tightly knit community... but that can have some downsides too - means that there are little pockets of closed ideologies that develop, sometimes in the form of an "old boys club", which becomes hard to infiltrate musically.  I'm all for new ideologies, but when self-segregation is part of the package deal, then I'm not so thrilled by it's prospect, you dig?

AT: You played in all of the bands, what do you think that says about you and your music?

BM: I think that says that I'm a nut and I should get more sleep.  No joke... Did you see me that night?  The damn thing's airing on Roger's every other day now and all I can think when I see me is "why is that boy still awake?"  I look horrible on that show!!  *groaning*

AT: What do you think playing in various kinds of bands brings to the T.O. jazz community?

BM: Versatility... variety... a mish-mash of concepts and visions and voices... and very very healthy for any musical community.  Difference is good.

AT: The entire night was a great fusion of styles, vibes, and interpretation, where do you think Toronto jazz is going from here?

BM: Upward and onward.  Toronto is blessed with being a multicultural haven for art... it is already a mecca for most professional artists and jazz is no exception.  There is always a new influx of talent into this city... I see it not only in the jazz community, but in the other
musical communities as well - particularly in the latin one.

AT: Define jazz and the jazz experience in Toronto?

BM: Jazz for me is defined by the improvised element... which is why I still see a lot of world music as jazz... but my umbrella is bigger than most I think.  I just like to see it prefaced with some kinda cultural explanation I guess... like if a Colombian group is fused Atlantic coast rhythms with funk, but there's a highly improvised component - then please call it latin-jazz or Colombian-jazz, or something like that... you know?  The jazz experience in Toronto is a pretty vibrant one, but because the population doesn't buy much jazz it can be a pretty bleak place to work sometimes.  Good thing true jazz musicians aren't financially motivated... most true jazz artists simply have a burning need to express this thing that's pent up inside of them, and they use their horns or they voices or they axes to that end... and pray for some dough in the process.  I love being in Toronto though... as far as Canada goes, I really feel it's got the most going on right now.

AT: What was the greatest moment of that night for you?

BM: At the end.  When I could sleep.  *grin*  Honestly though... I loved every moment... it was equally an honour to be Marc Roger's trumpet player as it was to stand up there with my own groups... I'm just glad that the universe allows me to be a trumpet player and not have to do anything else.  :)

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