|Brian Towers |
Brian Towers has led Toronto's Hot Five Jazzmakers for the past sixteen years and the band has a Saturday matinee residency at "C'est what?' in downtown Toronto. Under his leadership the band has performed many times in New Orleans; toured Northern Germany twice; represented Canada at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival; appeared at the Marciac Festival in France and performed at numerous other festivals in the USA and Canada. On January 30 2005 he will lead the H5JM on a Jazz Cruise in the Caribbean, starting and finishing in New Orleans!
The band has issued 8 CD's on Brian's own label - "BT" (best traditional) and has also recorded for Bill Bissonnette's "Jazz Crusade". Brian was a founder member of Toronto's Classic Jazz Society in 1994 and still has an interest in jazz promotion. He is married to Janet Shaw, a fine reed player and vocalist who also is a regular member of the H5JM.
He is the Canadian correspondent for the USA's leading jazz publication - The Mississippi Rag and publishes a monthly column on the Canadian Jazz scene. A good friend and musical associate of the late Cliff "Kid" Bastien for many years, Brian joined Cliff's "Magnolia Marching Brass Band" in 1982. In April 2004, the memory of Cliff "Kid" Bastien was honoured by parading the Magnolia Brass Band down Bourbon Street in New Orleans! After Cliff's sudden death in 2003, Brian compiled a discography of Cliff's issued recorded work and published it on a web site. Brian met Kjeld Brandt, leader of New Orleans Delight, for the first time in February 2003, on the occasion of Cliff's funeral. Both played at the ceremony.
For the past two years Brian has led the "Kid Bastien Remembered Band' in appearances at the New Orleans French Quarter Festival. This is an international "once-a-year" band which in 2004 included Kleld Brandt on clarinet! Brian is a dedicated advocate of New Orleans style ensemble playing. He loves original stylists such as Kid Ory; Honore Dutrey; Jimmy Archey; Big Jim Robinson; Wilber De Paris; Sam Nanton; JC Higginbotham; George Brunis, Roy Palmer, Charlie Green, etc. His ambition is to play with the "feeling" of his idols, while cultivating his own personal style, within the traditional framework.
Nowadays Brian is still very active on the Toronto jazz scene. Taking early retirement from his banking career several years ago opened up fresh opportunities for promotion of jazz and his music. He also acts as a "house-husband" and looks after the home and two young daughters, while his wife still works full time.
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|Kid Bastien Remembered on Bourbon Street 2004. Photo: Susan Egnew|
|Magnolia Brassband on Bourbon Street 2004. Photo: Susan Egnew|
|From left to right: Brian Towers (tbn) - Toronto Jazzmakers; Chris Daniels (string bass hidden) - leader of the Climax Jazz Band; Jack King (bjo) - ex-Louisiana Joymakers, now leader of the Silverleaf JB; Pat Kelly (tpt and deceased) - Excelsior JB; Syd Calvert (bjo this is his photo!) Excelsior JB; Dennis Elder (drums, deceased) founder and leader of the Silverleaf JB; Kid Bastien (tpt - deceased) - leader of the Happy Pals; George Berry (tnr sx deceased) ex Camelia JB; Janet Shaw (alto sx) Toronto Jazzmakers; Brian Williams (clt hidden. deceased) Silverleaf JB; Phil Pie (dms deceased) |
Photo was taken in the 1980's sometime - a jam session at the Jack Russell Pub. The occasion was a visit by George Berry back to Toronto.
Photograph is by courtesy of Sydney Calvert, who plays banjo and manages Toronto's New Excelsior Jazz Band