All that jazz: catching up with legendary pianist and composer Joe Sealy

Toronto is residence to many nice musicians, however few so venerable as jazz composer and pianist Joe Sealy. Pictured right here in April 1997, Sealy had not too long ago received the Juno for greatest modern jazz album, “Africville Suite.”

Named for the Halifax neighborhood of Black Canadians shaped within the early 1800s and razed out of existence within the Sixties, “Africville Suite” is devoted to Sealy’s father, Joseph Maurice Sealy, who was born there. “He moved to Montreal with my paternal grandparents when he was 9,” Sealy says, “however he was there (in Africville) throughout the Halifax explosion in 1917.

“He received a hunk of shrapnel in his head and made his method to the closest hospital,” Sealy provides. “He was wandering via the hallways attempting to get some medical consideration, when he seen that individuals have been lined up lacking limbs. So, he determined maybe the higher plan of action was to simply go residence and get it tended to by his mother.”

Sealy says his father all the time hoped to return to Africville to stay: “All through his working life he’d say, ‘Someday, I wish to return and purchase a home and retire there as a result of there’s such good people.’ However after all, by the point he retired, the neighborhood of Africville not existed.”

Africville is a narrative critically vital to Canada’s historical past — as a spot of refuge for newly freed slaves from America and as a reminder of a authorities’s damaged guarantees. “In the course of the Nineteen Fifties, the town of Halifax dedicated to placing in paved streets and operating water and correct sewer programs,” Sealy says, “however they reneged on it. A whole lot of the residents had put in indoor plumbing able to be hooked to the town’s system, nevertheless it by no means materialized.”

Joe Sealy’s contributions to Canadian music earned him, amongst different distinguished awards and accolades, an investiture into the Order of Canada in 2010. “That was fairly particular,” he says modestly, “I have to admit.”

And at 82, Sealy remains to be maintaining a busy efficiency and manufacturing schedule, regardless of the pandemic. “I ended up busier than I assumed I’d be,” he says of the previous two years, throughout which he participated in a documentary on pianist and composer Oscar Peterson and appeared over Zoom at each the Kensington Market Jazz Competition and the Toronto Downtown Jazz Competition.

Now that venues are opening up, Sealy is as soon as once more performing for stay audiences, together with common gigs with crooner Colin Hunter at Jazz Bistro on Victoria Road. “It’s beautiful to be again,” he says.


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