Phil Dwyer (musician)

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For the Welsh football player, see Phil Dwyer.
Phil Dwyer
Phil Dwyer at The Jazz Room, Waterloo, ON - 24 June 2015.jpg
Background information
Birth name Philip Richard Dwyer[1]
Born (1965-12-17) December 17, 1965 (age 50)[1]
Duncan, BC, Canada
Genres Jazz, Classical
Instruments Tenor sax, Alto sax, Soprano sax, Flute, Piano
Website http://www.phildwyer.com/

Phil Dwyer is a jazz saxophonist, pianist, composer, producer and teacher who is now pursuing a law degree at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Dwyer has been nominated for Juno Awards six times[2] and won Best Mainstream Jazz Album in 1994 with Dave Young for Fables and Dreams and Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year in 2012 for the recording Changing Seasons. Dwyer has also appeared on Juno Award winning recordings with Hugh Fraser (1988), Joe Sealy (1997), Guido Basso (2004), Don Thompson (2006), Molly Johnson (2009), Terry Clarke (2010), and Diana Panton (2015). He is an alumnus and Honorary Fellow of The Royal Conservatory of Music.[3]

Biography[edit]

Dwyer was born December 17, 1965 in Duncan, BC, and went to high school in Parksville, and Qualicum Beach, BC.

Dwyer’s first national press exposure came from journalist Mark Miller, who profiled Dwyer in a piece filed for the Globe and Mail in 1982 from the Canadian Stage Band Festival (precursor to MusicFest Canada), held that year in Hamilton, Ontario. Dwyer performed with his Ballenas Secondary School group Triple Image and took the Gold Medal in the combo category.

Dwyer joined the American Federation of Musicians, Local 145, in 1983 at age 17 to perform with Fred Stride's West Coast Jazz Orchestra, 'subbing' for well known Vancouver saxophonist/flautist Tom Keenlyside. A recording of his first Vancouver performance as a bandleader led to his receiving a Canada Council grant in 1983 to study in New York with David Liebman, which led in turn to studies with Steve Grossman. Earlier teachers included saxophonists Steve Jones and David Branter, pianist Don Thompson, piano/theory teacher Joan Gosselin and high school band director Bill Cave. His high school contemporaries included trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Pat Collins, and singer/pianist Diana Krall, for whom years later Dwyer would compose the tribute song 'Diana Piana'.

In 1985 Dwyer returned to Canada to stay, stopping in Edmonton on his way to Vancouver to perform the Hugh Fraser’s VEJI band, and guitarist Oliver Gannon’s Quartet, at the Edmonton Jazz City Festival. From 1985 through 1988 Dwyer was based in Vancouver, where he worked as a freelance musician, was a member of VEJI and the Hugh Fraser Quintet and traveled south to work with bassist David Friesen’s Trio (with drummer Alan Jones). Among his earlier recordings were the Juno winning Looking Up (Hugh Fraser Quintet), Classic VEJI, and Friesen’s Other Times, Other Places. Reviewers, including journalist Scott Yanow, highlighted Dwyer’s contributions to Friesen’s recording in particular.[4]

In 1988 Dwyer relocated to Toronto and established a freelance performing and recording career, as well as joining the music faculty at York University. He was a frequent performer at Toronto jazz clubs such as the Top o' the Senator, Montréal Bistro, George's Spaghetti House, the Pilot Tavern, and the Rex Jazz Bar. He also appeared at concert venues such as Massey Hall, Roy Thompson Hall, the O'Keefe Centre, and others. Among the artists with whom Dwyer appeared are Kenny Wheeler, Aretha Franklin, Rodney Whitaker, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Holly Cole, Tom Harrell, Renee Rosnes, and many others. During the time he lived in Toronto he also toured frequently across Canada, in the U.S., South America, Europe, and Asia, appearing at various clubs and festivals with different Canadian based groups and in 1995 with Gino Vannelli. From the early 1990s until 2004 Dwyer was a fixture in the Toronto recording studios, appearing on many albums, radio shows, and commercials. Some of his most frequent collaborators included Doug Riley, Don Thompson, Roberto Occhipinti, Molly Johnson, Guido Basso, John Johnson, Manteca, and Tim Tickner. He also wrote commercial music for production companies Rosnick/McKinnon, Einstein Bros., Pirate, and others.

In 1999-2000 Dwyer studied composition with Michael Colgrass, which led to him writing music by commission for the Amici Ensemble, Patricia O'Callaghan, Art Of Time, Gryphon Trio, Mark Fewer, CBC Orchestra, Kate Alton (choreographer), and several CBC Radio projects.

In 2004 Dwyer relocated to Qualicum Beach, on his native Vancouver Island. He continued to tour, write and record prolifically, including recordings with Terri Lyne Carrington, Terry Clarke, Joey Defrancesco, Don Thompson, Molly Johnson, Ian McDougall, Phil Dwyer Orchestra, Jon McCaslin, Melinda Whitaker, Norman Foote, David Gogo and the Bridge Quartet. He also founded and operated the Phil Dwyer Academy of Musical and Culinary Arts (PDAMCA).

In 2013, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for his contributions to jazz as a performer, composer and producer, and for increasing access to music education in his community".[5]

Other activities[edit]

Dwyer is a founding partner of Seawind Musical Instruments Inc., manufacturer of the Phil Dwyer Edition line of saxophones as well as other musical instruments and accessories.[6]

In 2014, Dwyer was admitted to the University of New Brunswick law school,[6] and as of June 2015 had completed his first year. Dwyer was motivated to pursue the legal career due to his long-standing interests in a number of social justice, environmental, and political issues.

Selected discography[edit]

  • 1988 - Looking Up - as a member of the Hugh Fraser Quintet - Juno Winner[7]
  • 1992 - Later is Now! - Justin Time Records - as a member of Manteca
  • 1993 - Fables and Dreams - Justin Time Records - Juno Winner[2]
  • 1999 - Road Stories - Radioland - Juno Nominee
  • 2005 - Let Me Tell You About My Day - with Alan Jones and Rodney Whitaker - Alma Records - Juno Nominee
  • 2005 - One Take: Volume 2 - with Marc Rogers, Robi Botos, and Terri Lynne Carrington - Alma Records - Juno Nominee
  • 2006 - Ask Me Later - as a member of the Don Thompson Quartet - CBC - Juno Winner[8]
  • 2007 - The Power of Beauty - A Tribute to Stan Getz - Various Artists - 7 Arts Entertainment
  • 2010 - One Take: Volume 4 - with Vito Rezza, Joey Defrancesco and Robi Botos - Alma Records
  • 2011 - Live in Winnipeg - with Rob Pitch
  • 2011 - Changing Seasons - with Mark Fewer - Alma Records - Juno Winner
  • 2013 - Look for the Silver Lining - with Don Thompson - Triplet Records - Juno Nominee

Other contributions[edit]

Year Artist Album
2000 Don Thompson Forgotten Memories - Roadhouse Records
2005 Roberto Occhipinti Now, More Than Ever - Alma Records
2008 Molly Johnson Lucky - Verve Juno Winner[9]
2009 Terry Clarke It's About Time - Blue Music Group Juno Winner[10]
2013 Diana Panton Red Juno Winner[11]

References[edit]

External links[edit]