Darren Sigesmund is cooking with Jazz!

Arpita Ghosal

Arpita Ghosal

Arpita Ghosal is a Toronto-based arts writer. She founded Sesaya in 2004.

Trombonist and Composer Darren Sigesmund (photo courtesy of the artist)

Trombonist and Composer Darren Sigesmund (photo courtesy of the artist)

When Darren Sigesmund compares cooking to jazz improv, take note. As a professional trombonist and a professional chef, he’s uniquely qualified to make the comparison.

Sigesmund picked the trombone for its “lower brass sounds and the warmth of the instrument,” and he’s taken his talent far. He is a JUNO nominee and Galaxie Rising Star winner, and his Strands project is considered one of Canada’s preeminent national and international touring jazz ensembles.

Whether composing music, leading his jazz quintet in performing that music — or concocting a meal — Sigesmund is a powerhouse. “I love to cook!” he beams After apprenticing with celebrated chef Michael Stadtlander at Eigensinn Farm, Sigesmund has cooked professionally in Toronto for several years. “Cooking is very much like jazz improvisation,” he offers, “in that it involves a lot of spontaneous creation and working with different ingredients and flavours.”

And these culinary endeavours are far from a fallback career. As a bandleader and trombonist of the Darren Sigesmund Strands Ensemble and acclaimed composer, he’s doing just fine. Though he appreciates the improvisational qualities of both professions, he is careful to point out what is to him the most rewarding aspect of being a music composer: “being able to hear my music performed live . . . and interpreted by other musicians, and sharing this with audiences.”

The 5 at the First chamber-music concert series will give GTA audiences just such a welcome opportunity on October 29 when it presents the Darren Sigesmund Strands Ensemble within the intimacy of Hamilton’s First Unitarian Church. When asked about what the audience might remark about this performance, Sigesmund expresses hope that the different colours and textures in the ensemble (for instance, the voice singing lines with trombone and sax) will resonate with them. He also hopes that they will appreciate the vibraphone. And ultimately, he aspires to have all “enjoy the music and, for first time listeners, perhaps go away with a desire to listen to more jazz.” If there are young people in the audience, he will be delighted if they spontaneously dance to the music–an unexpected and memorable occurrence at one particular performance that he still recalls with delight.

Rest assured that the compositions the Ensemble performs on October 29 will reflect Sigesmund’s inspired blend of artistry and innovation. In anticipation of the concert, he recommends this playlist – especially for young people – to get feet tapping and perhaps inspire a lifelong love of jazz music:

  1. Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s A Child’s Introduction to Jazz, featuring Adderley as well as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Thelonious Monk, among others: “It’s a record that I listened to and still have.” 
  2. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band: “I first heard them at Ontario Place, which inspired me to get into jazz. Their playing is infectious.” 
  3. Anything by Oscar Peterson: “Summertime” (George Gershwin)
  4. Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs 
  5. Anything by Louis Armstrong: Louis Armstrong Playlist 

News You Can Use

What: Darren Sigesmund Strands Ensemble, featuring Darren Sigesmund (trombone and bandleader), Valeria Matzner (vocals), Luis Deniz (alto sax), Michael Davidson (guitar), Jim Vivian (double bass), Ethan Ardelli (drums)

Who: Audiences of all ages

When: Saturday, October 29, 2016, 3 pm

Where: First Unitarian Church, 170 Dundurn Street South, Hamilton, ON

FYI: 5attheFirst.com

© 2016 Arpita Ghosal, Sesaya

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