Toronto-based musician and composer, JIM GELCER, was thrilled to play his first LIVE public performance on Thursday November 4 at the venerable Jazz Bistro in downtown Toronto. Covid had caused all music venues to shut down over the past 20 months and we were certainly anxious to see musicians return to the stage – Jim was joined by Rob Piltch (guitar), Ross MacIntyre (bass), Rob Neal Christian (sax, flute, piano)…..pictured belowI sat down with Jim at the Aroma Café on Bloor St East a few days prior to his show, and asked a few questions about surviving the Covid lockdown, what it feels like to be back performing LIVE, and his new side gig teaching students from around the world via an online learning academy.
Jim, you had a great gig November 4th at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro – was that your first live show since Covid restrictions eased and audience capacities increased? Yes and no. I had a couple of shows last summer when they first eased the restrictions a bit, and there have been a few private events as well, but this is really my first club date as a band leader in 18 months.
You performed with 3 other great musicians: Rob Christian on sax, flute & piano; Rob Piltch on guitar and Ross MacIntyre on bass. Were you looking fwd to working with your fellow musicians after all this time? Absolutely! Especially this killer band. I’m a connector. And one of the things I like to do is bring people together who I think should know each other and would enjoy playing or working together. I’ve worked with each of these musicians individually, but never all three together and I think it’s a wonderful combination of talent.
Has the Covid isolation period offered any positive opportunities such as time to compose or arrange, listening to other musicians’ work? Yes, indeed! I was quite busy during Covid with film scores, production, and songwriting collaborations. In fact, I’ve just finished co-writing three Christmas songs with Jon Mullane, a songwriter from Nova Scotia, that will be released on his upcoming Christmas album (look for it on his Spotify, or wherever you listen to music).
You studied music as well as philosophy, so has a serious music education helped you with your career? So many new/young musicians have never picked up an actual instrument or learnt how to sight-read music – do you think there is still a need for traditional learning or do you feel music’s future lies with computers? A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to teach music at the Toronto District School Board. I am so grateful for that, as it sustained me during Covid, and got me into teaching, which I had not done much of previously. During the pandemic I also started teaching privately, and have had students from as far and wide as Germany, Ukraine, Hawaii, and all over North America. So, yes, I believe that there is still a need for traditional learning.
If people want to learn more about you and your music, do you have a website or social media they could follow? Yes, I’m on Facebook (facebook.com/jgelcer). I’m also on Instagram and Twitter as @jimgelcer. And I’m even on Wikipedia! My website is www.gelcer.com
I’m so glad you had an enthusiastic audience at Jazz Bistro, must have been so great to play live again. And continued success with your music students around the world. (www.outschool.com)