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This Sunday, November 27th at 2:00pm at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra is putting on a concert called “Back to the Future.” What makes this concert so very special is that the WJO will be premiering a brand new co-composition written for them by two composers who definitely know how to write for big band. These composers being, band leader and jazz historian Fred Stride from Vancouver and trombonist and composer Jean-Nicolas Trottier from Montreal.

The name of the multi-movement work is “Connections.” It consists of eight individual movements. Four tunes written by Fred Stride and four written by Jean-Nicolas Trottier.

For Stride, the idea of writing a piece with someone else seemed a little strange. As Stride explains “It’s kind of an odd thing to write a piece of music with somebody else….it’s a bit like trying to write a book with somebody  else….but then Richard Gillis, the director of the WJO mentioned that they were trying to put composers together from across the country.” Once Stride knew that he was to be teamed up with Jean-Nicolas Trottier, somebody he greatly respected as a composer and band leader, Stride whole heartedly agreed to the commission. “When I knew it was Jean-Nicolas...I went sure! I’ll do something with him.”

The name of the work came from the idea of connecting these two composers from across the country. Stride had written the first tune in the suite but had to think of what to call it. “I had to put something on it… and so I thought…what are we doing here? Well Richard (Gillis) is connecting us across the country like this. And so I said to Jean-Nicolas, let’s call it Connections”

The eight movements are also connected and inspired by jazz composers and arrangers from the past. Musicians like Thadd Jones, Rob McConnnel and Bill Holman. “The past is really important for us today, because it shows us ways we can go about things,” say Stride.

One of the other important elements to “Connections” is the mutual respect that each composer has for each other. There are couple of pieces where the composer’s names are in Morse Code and are used as  rhythmic ideas for a couple of the tunes. As Stride says, “I took his name (Jean-Nicolas) and added hello. And so I took the Morse Code version of his name and sort of looped that as this kind of ostinato. Who solos on that tune….Jean-Nicolas does!”

This new composition ‘Connections” written for the WJO is sure to be great. In addition to the new work, the WJO will also be performing tunes by, Slide Hampton, Duke Ellington, and Thad Jones amongst others.

The concert takes place this Sunday, November 27th at 2:00pm at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. For more details check out the WJO’s website.

Get your swing on with the WJO!