Waterloo Region Record - - NIGHTLIFE - Va­lerie Hill, Record staff

WATER­LOO— As a song­writer, Barry Elmes was highly pro­duc­tive dur­ing his year long sab­bat­i­cal from teach­ing jazz at York Univer­sity and the re­sult of all that pro­duc­tiv­ity is a new CD, “Dog’s Break­fast.”

Though the Bri­tish term means a com­plete mess, a real jum­ble, this ref­er­ence de­scribes the eclec­tic na­ture of the mu­sic.

“Each song is quite dif­fer­ent, a wide va­ri­ety,” he said. “Like a dog’s break­fast.”

The term dog’s break­fast came to him from a car­toon illustration of a dog’s stom­ach con­tent, all the junk that Rover gob­bles down in a day in­clud­ing crayons, toys, bones and home­work.

“The in­sti­ga­tion for this was a poster be­side my bed, ‘Dog’s Break­fast,’” he said. “It puts me in a good mood for the whole day, it makes me laugh.” Then he adds “and I’m a dog ma­niac,” mean­ing he re­ally loves dogs but sadly, only has one at the mo­ment and she is a pretty wacky ca­nine which matches the lev­ity of the poster’s im­age.

Crazy dog on the poster, crazy dog at his feet, crazy dog on the CD cover, it’s the per­fect tri­fecta for a cre­ative guy like Elmes.

The nine-track record­ing by the Barry Elms Quar­tet will be re­leased at the Jazz Room on Satur­day night and in his usual com­fort­able style, Elmes said he will be talk­ing di­rectly to the au­di­ence, telling them sto­ries about the mu­sic. Chances are good the sub­ject of dogs will pop up.

The Cam­bridge-born drum­mer has toured the world, recorded on more than 90 jazz al­bums and per­formed with such greats as Diana Krall, Dizzy Gille­spie, Oliver Jones and Moe Koff­man. He formed the Barry Elmes Quin­tet in 1991, re­cruit­ing the top jazz mu­si­cians in the coun­try: Mike Mur­ley on sax, Brian O’Kane on trum­pet, gui­tarist Lorne Lof­sky and bass player, Steve Wal­lace.

In his day job, Elmes is as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of mu­sic at York Univer­sity and cur­rently serves as the Jazz Area co­or­di­na­tor hence he was able to take a sab­bat­i­cal to re­ally con­cen­trate on com­pos­ing mu­sic for this al­bum.

“Dog’s Break­fast” recorded on his Cor­ner­stone la­bel, is the band’s sixth re­lease and its song ti­tles are as eclec­tic as the mu­sic: “Ter­mi­nal 2”, “Pierre Bur­ton’s Pig” and on the cute side, “Lit­tle Sun­flower.”

Like all the songs on the al­bum, “Katie’s Blue” comes with a story.

Katie Mal­loch was the 40-year vet­eran jazz broad­caster with CBC Ra­dio and it was the Barry Elmes Quin­tet that per­formed at her retirement party in 2012.

“She was a ter­rific sup­porter of Cana­dian jazz mu­sic,” he said.

The song “Right as Rain” struck him as a song ti­tle be­cause it’s one of those ex­pres­sions you hear all the time, a col­lo­qui­al­ism “that means noth­ing” but to him, sig­ni­fies happiness.

“Jazz was never the most pop­u­lar mu­sic,” he ad­mit­ted. “It’s al­ways been a select group of peo­ple but there’s a large gen­er­a­tion com­ing up with (ac­cess) to all that jazz ed­u­ca­tion.”

Elmes be­gan his drum­ming ca­reer long be­fore he held a set of drum sticks.

“I was bang­ing on stuff since I was born,” he said. “I used to rush home from school to play the drums.”

He learned by play­ing in youth bands in the 1960s as well as prac­tic­ing at home and his long suf­fer­ing par­ents were al­ways sup­port­ive to the point where he de­vised a set of head­phones con­nected to the tele­vi­sion so they could watch their shows in peace when he prac­ticed.

His first se­ri­ous taste of drum­ming came while study­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence at the Univer­sity of Water­loo, play­ing in bars on week­ends.

“I knew then that I wanted to be a full time mu­si­cian,” he said. “Just as I was fin­ish­ing my last year, York was start­ing up its jazz pro­gram.

It was more than Elmes could re­sist so af­ter grad­u­at­ing, he got a job work­ing for a vac­uum cleaner man­u­fac­turer for year, sav­ing enough money to at­tend York.

“Since then, I’ve done an MA (masters de­gree) in mu­sic,” he said.

Though he’s back to teach­ing full time, Elmes and his band have plans to tour the new al­bum which was first re­leased ear­lier this month at The Rex, in Toronto. Their next show is Dec. 16 at the Old Mill in Toronto.


Barry Elmes Quin­tet will be play­ing at The Jazz Room Satur­day.

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