Jazz legend founds emergency fund for students

Ian McDougall’s latest recording to benefit those in fine arts

Ian McDougall

Ian McDougall cranks the volume on his home stereo and lets a smile overwhelm him. His new recording of the Charlie Chaplin original, Smile, plays.

“I like it loud,” says the 73-year-old jazz trombonist.

Arms outstretched, McDougall pauses, then as if to point at the notes filling his living room, cries out in appreciation of Rick Wilkins’ arrangement on the track.

“Listen to the strings,” McDougall says of the recording which happens to be much slower – and more emotional – than most expect from the ballad. The way Chaplin intended, he says.

But the iconic jazz musician, Juno Award winner, University of Victoria professor emeritus and Order of Canada recipient stops himself short of embarking on a conversation about sentiment. The story behind his latest disc, The Very Thought of You, featuring Smile and 13 other classic ballads performed by an all-star ensemble of Canadian talent, is powerful enough on its own.

The record is an entirely volunteer endeavour of McDougall’s, an effort to create an emergency fund for students entering the arts. Ten dollars from every $20 CD will go directly into the fund, intended to support fine arts students in need at UVic. No strings attached.

The project is nicknamed the “one potato” fund after McDougall’s encounter with a young man purchasing a single potato for dinner at his neighbourhood grocery store, Pepper’s Foods.

“He was looking a little worn out,” McDougall says. “It was right at the end of the year and he’s got no money to eat, poor guy. And he’s just buying the one potato.”

The fund is not intended to supply bursaries or scholarships, rather  “a little dough” for students in immediate need, he says.

“If they get successful after that and they’ve paid their millions in students loans and they can put it back in the fund, but if they don’t, that’s okay.”

Also behind one potato are UVic alumni Jim Crawford and Tony Gage, who assisted with financial backing by establishing Ten Mile Music Production Limited Partnership and soliciting donors to the project.

“It’s something I could never afford, but I can do the stuff that makes the record. I can write and I can play.”

The Very Thought of You was recorded at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, along with McDougall’s wife Barb, a four-piece rhythm section, 20 strings and an oboe. Barb, a violinist, produced and mixed the recording.

The oldest of the ballads – which McDougall insists aren’t jazz – is a 1926 George Gershwin tune. The newest: Henry Mancini’s Moon River from ’61.

McDougall’s epic career began in late night downtown Victoria, where he “learned on the job,” he says, as young as 12 years old.

“Instead of playing in the school band, I was playing in the clubs with a bunch of boozers,” he adds.

He went on to play on somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 LPs and CDs over his 63-year-career and accompany the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Gladys Knight. McDougall continues to perform with his band, the Ian McDougall 12tet.

“Musicians never stop working if they care about music,” McDougall says, adding that continuing to play is also an excuse not to drink cheap wine.

Should CD sales take off, Ten Mile has plans to extend the fund to fine arts students across the country.

“I’m very happy to the supporters and that they’re happy giving to this fund. What more can you ask for?”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Slugfest at the 2019 Super Channel Championships

Pictures from day two of Boxing BC bouts this week

Busy day for passengers on BC Ferries

First two sailings from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay full Thursday morning

Police actions under investigation following Langford arrest

IIO investigates officer-related incidents that result in serious harm

High of 16 C for Thursday

Plus your weekend forecast

New commemorative loonie marking progress for LGBTQ2+ rights draws mixed response

Critics say coin’s date of 1969 ‘equality’ is misleading

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Two in critical condition, several still in hospital after Langley deck collapse

Close relative Satwant Garcha makes daily trips to visit those injured at the wedding

Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after 3 paramedics attacked at Kamloops hospital

Paramedics had transported the man to Royal Inlands Hospital for medical treatment

Canadian privacy watchdogs find major shortcomings in Facebook probe

The probe followed reports that Facebook had let an outside organization use an app to access users’ personal info

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

Most Read