Beginning in his early teens Hugh was in many bands playing the popular music of the day and loving it. He soon discovered jazz and found that for him, like one tuning fork setting off another, this music resonated in him as a world of expression he related to. Hugh still loves all kinds of music but if we must use boxes and labels, "jazz" is the one closest to his heart.
In the early ''70''s, Hugh and a group of like minded musicians formed the "All Jazz Quartet". They were fortunate that in an age when rock and pop were in vogue they were able to play the music they loved. Living in New Brunswick, not exactly being the "jazz mecca" of the world, necessitated Hugh playing professionally in many styles, pop bands, blues bands, country bands and Acadian traditional to name but a few. He played jazz when he could. Hugh was fortunate to be a studio musician for both radio and television with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Canada for a period of twelve years during the 70''s and 80''s.
He has been a professional musician all of his adult life and is frequently called upon for studio and special presentations. In early 2003 Hugh recorded his premier offering "Full Circle" which is comprised of 12 original compositions in styles ranging from latin to be-bop to modern to aggressive jazz. The recording was nominated for "Jazz Recording of the Year" for the 2004 East Coast Music Awards, a nationally broadcast and internationally attended event.
In August 2004 and again in July 2006, Hugh was thrilled to be invited to perform for President Clinton during his brief stop in Nova Scotia. Hugh was again invited to perform in 2005 for the Canadian Ambassador to the US, Frank McKenna and his guest, the US Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins. Hugh can be seen performing weekly with a variety of musicians at venues in Moncton, NB and is currently available for national and international bookings.
Hugh’s appearances at the Atlantic Jazz Festival in 2006 and the St John’s Jazz Festival in 2007 were very well received. His appearance at the 2007 Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival was recorded by CBC for Espace Musique.
His trio’s latest release, Live @ Little Louis’ features well loved standards. latin influenced instrumentals and romantic ballads, both instrumental and vocal.
In Hugh''s own words :-
" When I first began learning jazz and playing standards I would learn the head, melody notes alone, some chords with the melody on top, and chords comping in between. I had been doing this for awhile then I heard Ed Bickert. He did beautifully what I was aiming for. Then Jim Hall, Lenny Breau of course and also the piano players such as Bill Evans. I loved these styles but would not buy transcribed books to play note for note, chord for chord what they did. When listening, I would again close my eyes and be taken with the music alone and not let the technique or note selection be my focus. I would then sit down and work out a tune and my own ideas, influenced of course by these greats. I know many musicians learn transcribed solos by the greats as a learning tool but it never appealed to me. I wanted to get to the point where solos came from instantaneous ideas and bouncing them back and forth with other musicians.
What I did do was learn and practice all the scales, major & minor, melodic minor & modes, diminished, etc….all positions of the finger board and traveling from position to position. I finally got a decent grasp but this almost backfired to the opposite of what I had intended! I found myself turning into a scale machine, a glib change runner. I felt empty, I had left the searching for the right note behind somewhere. I went back to basing solos on chordal thinking and connections, along with the melody of the tune itself never being abandoned altogether. Anyway, I now play using a balance of all these things and beyond all the analysis of how I play. It boils down to what Bird said about just learn all your scales, chords and stuff…then just forget it all and play!
I close my eyes, get an idea and play! What style? I don''t know! I think radio airplay calls it something between smooth, cool and modern jazz. I just play.
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