The Chronical Herald

Halifax NS

Guitarist Occhipinti makes most of tour

Sat. Oct 13 - 6:22 AM

David Occhipinti plays The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Rd., Halifax, tonight at 8 p.m. (File)

As jazz clubs in Toronto like the Top of the Senator and Montreal’s Bistro continue to close, a tour is the only way jazz musicians like guitarist David Occhipinti get to play their own music in public.
"There just aren’t a lot of places to play any more," Occhipinti said over the phone from a B&B in Wolfville on Thursday morning.
Together with trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, bassist Andrew Downing and drummer Terry Clarke, Occhipinti is touring his fourth CD, Forty Revolutions, this month. His appearance in Halifax tonight marks the end of the downeast leg of his first cross-Canada tour with his own band playing his own music.
Forty Revolutions, with saxophonist Mike Murley instead of Turcotte, is a uniquely original CD. Uncannily, Occhipinti has found a way to explore the frontiers of jazz composition while at the same time making music that is compellingly listenable.
"I take chances with my writing by using odd time-signatures and 12-tone lines, and these players are such great listeners, players and chance takers," Occhipinti said.
Turcotte was an ideal choice for the tour when Murley had to beg off in order to accept a tour to Mexico. "Kevin has the same sensibility, and he listens so well," Occhipinti said.
One of the tunes on Forty Revolutions is called Within the Widening Gyre. Occhipinti confesses to feeling a little embarrassed over his use of the word "gyre", which means a circle or spiral within which you move.
He plays with time signatures in this piece, under the influence of classical composer Igor Stravinsky. "He had a great freedom with the bar-line in his music," Occhipinti said. "My piece Mars is in 20/8 time, which means there are 20 eighth notes in each bar, organized in three groups of six and one of two."
Players improvise within this structure, often creating new metrical divisions witching the 20 eighth notes. The clarity of the melodic style gives the listener a chance to appreciate the opportunities for freedom and inventiveness the players take advantage of.
Clarity and design were perhaps two models Occhipinti picked up from studying with the great guitarist Jim Hall. "When I first played with him my first thought was, "I’ll never swing like that.’ So I don’t write a lot of swing tunes. But like Jim Hall, I do want to take listeners somewhere with my music."

The quartet plays in The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Rd., at 8 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $20 and $15 for seniors, students and members of JazzEast, and are available at 492-2225 or online at

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