Remembering Tommy

I was lucky I got to tell him this past year at the Yardbird Suite how much I appreciated his Christmas album which has wonderfully original, tasteful arrangements. I’m glad to see he was enjoying himself (he was carrying two drinks) and the evening’s music, especially knowing he’s now dead via leukemia. He clearly appreciated the kudo on that album.

But speaking of music, that’s the kind of guy he was: tasteful, always dressed classily in a suit, always doing a class job with whatever projects he manned, both big and small.
Which bestirs another memory of “Beans and Bards”–a ‘coffee house’ evening of poetry and jazz in Harry Ainlay school agora decades ago when I read poetry backed by Tommy’s combo. He met with me before we went on to ‘chart’ the readings, playing some samples while I gave him some key and rhythm cues. Imagine me doing that for Tommy Banks! Imagine his group backing me up! A consummation devoutly to be wished.

Well, I have often had more than my fair share of lucky opportunities and special contacts. And Tommy was real Canadian musical royalty. Such a class act, a true gentleman, and a great player. I will sorely miss him. No one, but no one will ever replace him or do the fantastic things he uniquely did for Canadian jazz and music.

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