Rory is a Saskatoon-based saxophonist who fronts his own jazz quartet and also plays in Prairie Roots Ensemble. Here are six of his favourite songs. /Gregory Beatty
“As This Moment Slips Away”
Joshua Redman & The Bad Plus | The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (2015) | YouTube
Joshua Redman and The Bad Plus both have well-developed aesthetics on their own and it’s fascinating to hear how they come together on this album. I hear a lot of humour in The Bad Plus’ sound. The way they can throw your expectations sometimes makes you laugh out loud. Joshua Redman has such a beautiful tone, and his improvisation is fluid and endlessly creative.
Aaron Parks | Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man (2020) | YouTube
I discovered the Little Big project this past spring and now I can’t get enough of this band. Aaron Parks writes amazing songs and the group plays like one organism. Beautiful melodies, harmonies, grooves and overall sound.
Carsten Rubeling | Volk//People (2019) | YouTube
Carsten was one of my teachers during my time at the jazz intensive that runs alongside Saskatoon’s jazz festival every year. Us eager students got the chance to spend time with those who were “living the dream”, travelling and playing music for a living. This album grooves hard and it has a raw simplicity that adds to its power.
“Desde La Lluvia”
Melissa Aldana | Back Home (2016) | YouTube
Melissa Aldana is one of my favourite contemporary saxophonists. She plays with an authenticity and authority that comes from huge amounts of work and dedication. The saxophone/bass/drums trio format is very spacious, allowing the timbres and the players to interact in a different way than we might normally hear.
“Prayer for the People”
Marquis Hill with M’reld Green | Modern Flows, Vol. 2 (2018) | YouTube
So many of Marquis Hills’ compositions feel like masterpieces, and his improvisations are incredibly concise — not a single note wasted. His band, the Blacktet, is one of the most exciting groups out there today. He also connects his music to contemporary social issues. On this track, poet M’reld Green speaks about gentrification.
Wayne Shorter | Emanon (2018) | YouTube
Listening to live recordings of Wayne Shorter’s new quartet was one of my biggest early inspirations. His tone at times can be almost shocking — it’s like a wake-up call. This band holds nothing back, and they’re one of the most vibrant groups I’ve ever listened to.