Jazz is ‘not about competition,’ says Juno-nominated Winnipeg musician Jon Gordon


Winnipeg alto saxophonist Jon Gordon feels in good company among his fellow nominees for Best Solo Jazz Album at this year’s Juno Awards.

Among the nominees are two of his friends: Will Bonness, a fellow faculty member at the University of Manitoba, and Toronto saxophonist Jesse Ryan.

“Honestly, I’m going to be happy for everyone. I feel like the nomination is the win,” Gordon said in an interview with Marcy Markusa, host of CBC Manitoba’s morning radio show. news radio.

Born in New York, Gordon has been recognized by music publications and other musicians, including legends like Wayne Shorter and Phil Woods, as one of the finest players of his instrument.

Rather than accepting the accolades, Gordon echoes the sentiment that jazz pianist and bandleader Jon Batiste expressed when he accepted the award for Album of the Year at the Grammys last month: He doesn’t don’t think the “best” musician exists. .

“He said, you know, competition in any art form is – it’s really not about competition,” Gordon said.

“What you hope for is that you can do work that you feel proud of, that inspires other people, and that’s part of the art form in motion – that the art itself progresses. “

Gordon received the nomination for his album stranger than fictionwhich includes 10 tracks, all composed by Gordon and covering a wide range of styles, often in the same song.

“Pointilism”, the album’s second track, begins softly, with individual instruments from Gordon’s nonet appearing on top of each other, building into a fluid cacophony for a minute before cutting off. The next section begins with fast cymbal and snare hits from drummer Fabio Ragnelli, followed by a long solo from Gordon.

The entire song ends in three minutes and thirty-one seconds, much shorter than the average modern jazz tune.

Sonny Rollins talks about when he goes beyond thinking and he’s just a little bit in the moment and reacting,” Gordon said.

“You’re just sort of, and I think that’s ideally what you want it to be, where you can really react to other musicians around you.”

Gordon knew he wanted to play an instrument from an early age.

“Every year they kept putting me in the choir and I had to keep singing Climb every mountain and all the greatest hits of music sound. You would really get a little sick of it,” he said.

“But eventually, in sixth grade, I got to middle school and got the saxophone and was thrilled.”

The nomination of professors and graduates like him and Bonness, as well as last year’s winner in the same category, guitarist Jocelyn Gould, shows the strength of the University of Manitoba’s jazz program, Gordon said.

“I’m proud of that,” he said.

Bonness played piano on Gordon’s album, while Gordon appears on Bonness’ album Change of plan.

Other Manitoba artists vying for the Junos this year include Moroccan-born, Carman-raised pop singer Faouzia in the Breakthrough Artist category, and Winkler and Plum Coulee Christian band The Color in the category Contemporary Christian Album of the Year for the album No greater love.

The 2022 Juno Awards ceremony in Toronto will take place on Sunday starting at 7:00 p.m. PT.