Former MRU student hosts local Jazz Jam
by Michael Bull
In 2005, Matt Doherty was working at Broken City when a new weekly showcase featuring some of Calgary’s best and brightest young jazz musicians reignited his love of music.
“Right when I started working was right when they started having the Jazz Jam. For me, it was an opportunity when I didn’t know how to play that style of music,” said Doherty. “I didn’t really have any experience or previous knowledge of it. I could just come down and watch some of Calgary’s best kind of jam it out.”
A self-taught drummer by trade, Doherty has been playing the drums (and pots and pans and pillows) for as long as he can remember, and after watching from the sidelines for what seemed like forever, he finally got the courage to get up and play.
“The first dozen times were pretty rough, but eventually you get the hang of it and that gave me the skill and the confidence to get into school.”
Using his experience at the Jazz Jam as a jumping off point, Doherty, after numerous applications, got accepted into Mount Royal University’s jazz program. He graduated with his Music Performance — Jazz Diploma in 2009 and took over the Broken City Jazz Jam in January, which happens every Saturday afternoon.
“Recently, management made a decision to sort of change the booking, and so, I offered my services and they rewarded me with an unpaid position of keeping this thing going, organizing it, getting people to come down, stuff like that.”
Aside from playing jazz every Saturday at Broken City, Doherty keeps busy by being involved with Calgary’s rock scene, playing in a variety of different bands. This experience of playing in a group really helped him out when taking the leap to jazz and playing in Mount Royal’s jazz program.
“I’m in a band right now called This City Defects and we are actually starting a two-month tour next week so that’s pretty exciting.”
Unfortunately, the jazz scene has a reputation as a niche market, appealing to only a certain group of people.
“When you say jazz one thing comes to mind and most people only think of one style, but it’s a lot bigger than that,” sais Doherty. “What we try to do is leave the jam open to all styles and it doesn’t matter if it’s traditional or some other form … We definitely aren’t looking at the lines. Anyone can come and play or just come and watch.
In addition, since Broken City is licensed as a restaurant and the Jazz Jam occurs every Saturday afternoon from 3-6 p.m., you don’t have to be 18 to come out and play.
“We are trying to reach out to a younger audience. In the future, we want to get kids from high school and stuff like that, just to encourage playing at a young age. We just had a guy on stage that was 14 and he’s going to be pretty big. I can tell.”
Whether young or old, experienced in the genre or not, go down to Broken City Saturday afternoons and see some talented musicians play or, if you are brave enough, hop up on the stage yourself. The host encourages one and all to play.