Reprinted from the October 12, 2015 Ottawa Citizen article written by Peter Hum. See the original article here.

Is there an Ottawa saxophonist busier than Mike Tremblay?

This week, in addition to his roster of teaching and recent work with the NAC Orchestra, he has a more personal project to unveil. Next Sunday at Trinity United Church, Tremblay will launch his new CD, the trio disc Live At GigSpace, recorded earlier this year with guitarist Tim Bedner and the young but mature-beyond-his years bassist Ben Heard, who has just begun his first year of post-secondary music studies in Toronto.

It’s proving to be a bountiful harvest for made-in-Ottawa jazz albums, with Tremblay’s disc coming on the heels of vocalist Claude Brazeau’s Portrait intime, The Next Chapter, by pianist/trombonist Mark Ferguson, and Alpha Moment, by, ahem, yours truly.

Below, Tremblay shares the inside story on Live At GigSpace.

Your previous recorded effort was a studio recording. Why did you decide to go the live route this time?

There are two main reasons why I wanted to try a live CD recording. The first is to try an emulate one of my all-time favourite recordings Murley, Bickert, and Wallace: Live at the Senator.

I’ve enjoyed this recording for many years, have had students transcribe many of the Murley solos, and keep returning to it, especially while on my way to perform. It has been a constant source of inspiration for me. The lines, the communication, the emotion have always felt like a “how to” instructional on jazz improvising. I wanted to try and recreate the spirit of this album. Now that the disc is complete, I listen to some tracks side by side, and am totally happy with the sounds I’m hearing.

The second reason for trying a live recording stems from my experience in the studio. I’ve been lucky to have been asked to record as a sideman with many wonderful musicians over the years. The recording process for me can be quite stressful, knowing that once it’s pressed and released, there is nothing more that can be added, adjusted, corrected, or removed. Most musicians I know are always practising hard, trying to improve their craft. For their whole lifetime, they are “a work in progress.” A recording is often reworked, and re-recorded, edited so much, that often once it’s complete, it can feel almost pre-planned, forced, and unnatural.

Oddly enough, often the best takes in the studio are the first ones. Everyone is fresh, listening, and less critical about their own playing at the time. Sadly, often these takes are lost due to recording issues that are still being sorted out. So, we wanted to try our best to give an honest snap-shot of our trio in one take. Hoping for not only solid playing, but also strong communication and emotion. It was a daunting task, but I am really proud of the fellas. I think they did a wonderful job. For me, it’s an honest snapshot of how we sounded that night. Nothing on the CD was re-done or edited. What you hear, is exactly what happened that night.

The new disc features you with Tim Bedner and Ben Heard. Tell me about these musicians. How do you know them and why did you choose to record with them?

I’ve been working with Tim Bedner since he moved to town. We always have a great time playing, whatever the situation is. Tim is all about the groove, and has such a wonderful sound. For me, he was the perfect choice for this recording.

I first met Ben Heard when he was in Grade 9 at St Peter’s High School. I was hired by the Ottawa International Jazz Festival to do a series of jazz improv clinics with their five-piece combo. Whatever I threw at Ben, he devoured, and was eager for more.

In Grade 10, he transferred to Canterbury High School where I was conducting the senior jazz ensemble. I had the pleasure of working with Ben in that ensemble, and on some general gigs for the next three years. He is a brilliant young man with a very bright future. His playing is wise beyond his years, and I was eager to record with him before he left for Toronto to study at the Glenn Gould School. I figured that I better book him now, while I could still afford him.

Tell me about the tunes on the record. Is it a mix of originals and standards, or just one or the other?

As in the Top of the Senator recording, we elected to play mostly jazz standards. However, two of my tunes made it to the CD. Both are based on standards, but with many modifications.

If I Should Lose Time is based on If I should lose you. I’ve composed a melody over the changes and added several bars of 7/4 time. Those bars are in awkward places, so it’s hard to relax. Our goal was to make this tune sound like it was in 4/4.

We also recorded a tune named after our nine-year-old pet rabbit Leo, entitled Leo’s Mood. He’s an amazing creature with an incredibly complex personality. So, I decided to rework John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. I composed a vamp intro, a counterpoint section for guitar and saxophone, then an intricate angular melody. The solo section is respectively over the standard Giant Steps changes.

What hopes do you have for this disc? And for this trio?

I asked two people that I have a huge amount of respect for to review the recording before sending it to be manufactured. Canadian pianist Brian Browne was kind enough to send me a few kind and encouraging words that could be included in the liner notes. I also asked New York saxophonist Joel Frahm, and he responded very enthusiastically with a beautifully written review that we have also included. Thanks to these two musicians, we feel proud and encouraged that folks will enjoy our work. I’m going to try and get it out to as many folks as possible.

The nice thing about this group is it’s fairly easy to travel with. We are going to try and set up some concerts and possibly hit some festivals next summer. A big thanks goes out to Marilee Townsend-Alcorn and Mark Alcorn for hosting the concert recording at GigSpace. It’s such a wonderful space, and the room sounds amazing! Marilee did a super job with the artwork and design of the CD, and the pictures were done by Claude Brazeau. Thanks also to Normand Glaude who did a fabulous job recording, mixing, and mastering the disc.