As my idol, David Sanborn once told me, ‘you have a story to tell and you have to tell it!’ Dave meant for me to tell it with music but I also tell it with words.
Music has always been front row center in my life. When I was 13, I performed a piano piece that I composed for jazz legend Oscar Peterson’s memorial concert – recorded by CBC Radio. When I stood to acknowledge the audience I was overwhelmed by the standing ovation I received. I knew then that I wanted to become a professional musician.
What I didn’t see coming was the freight train that nearly derailed my dreams. In 2010, at 15 years old, I suffered a traumatic brain hemorrhage during routine surgery that initially paralyzed the right side of my body. When I came home from the hospital a month later, I couldn’t even make a sound on the piano with my right hand. Despite this setback, I remained determined. Two months later, I attended the University of Manitoba (U of M) Summer Jazz camp playing the piano with my left hand only.
Winnipeg jazz sax great, Walle Larsson, approached me soon after and knowing that it would be easier for me to play the sax than the piano with my compromised hand, taught me a technique that relied more on reflexes than finger strength. Before I knew it I was playing music with both hands again!
In the fall of 2012, Walle left for L.A. to record a new CD just as Craig Bailey – a longtime member of the Ray Charles Band – arrived in town to take a term position at the U of M. Craig and I met at a jam session and after hitting it off, he offered to step in as my mentor.
In 2013, my dream of entering the U of M’s Jazz Studies faculty was realized as I was accepted on alto sax. At the U of M, I was privileged to study with New York sax veteran Jon Gordon – the ‘96 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition and pianist Will Bonness – the 2022 Juno Award winner for Jazz Album of the Year!
I’ve performed at various events including the 2018, 2019 and 2022 Winnipeg Jazz Festivals, the Asper Jazz Series, Rady JCC Sports Dinners, the 2015 and 2016 Jazz in the Garden Series, the 2017 Summer Music Series at the Lyric Theatre and the 2018 and 2019 Downtown Concert Series. In 2020/2021 I shared my music in a number of livestream shows including concerts for the 2021 Music and Mavens series and 2021 CCFM Mardi Jazz series. As well, I’m a regular performer with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra.
In 2017, I traveled to New York City to record sax and piano parts for the soundtrack to the Zeno Mountain Farm production, ‘Best Summer Ever’ – a film that features actors with diverse abilities. https://zenomountainfarm.org/videos-2019/
I’m a graduate of the University of Manitoba Jazz Studies program with a double major in sax and piano. My passion is music and I love sharing that passion at corporate events, weddings, fundraisers, restaurants, schools and in concert.
A writer as well as a performer, I’m about to release my debut CD, Connor & Cordelia ‘Acceptance’ with vocalist Cordelia Donovan and producer Larry Roy this spring! Our debut single, ‘Acceptance’ is currently streaming on all platforms! Click here to find your favourite music stream! https://connorandcordelia.hearnow.com/