Jazz musician Jim Doxas is a native Montrealer, currently teaching at McGill University, as well as performing with the Oliver Jones trio, Riverside, and the Jim Doxas trio. “Leap of Faith” is his very first album as bandleader, and is out on November 20th. On the album, he joins Morgan Moore on bass and Paul Shrofel on piano to present both jazz standards and original compositions. I spoke to him about his numerous influences, happy mistakes, and the importance of trust in music.
Emma Elbourne (EE): I’ve heard you described as a modern jazz musician, with more of a contemporary take on jazz. Would you agree?
Jim Doxas (JD): I think that’s definitely accurate, partly because my influences are so broad. I didn’t first start listening to jazz, I was first influenced by pop music, by classical music. When I was born, my mom was really into Motown. So I’d say my musical background has really been a sort of melting pot. I’m definitely not a jazz purist at all. I am a jazz musician, but my influences come from pop, from rock, from country. . . . I think I’m a product of how accessible different music and different cultures are today, more so than even 20 years ago. On any given afternoon you can decide to listen to anything you want at the click of a button, and that was not always the case.
EE: Tell me about the album. What’s different about this new project of yours?
JD: Well, this project is under my own name, but as a project it’s really more of a collective. Paul Shrofel, Morgan Moore and I have been playing together for about a decade, often accompanying other people, and we’ve gotten really comfortable playing together as a trio. So this has been talked about for many years, but all of us are so busy, we’re all sidemen and play with a bunch of other people, so it’s hard to do. But a few months ago I just took the reins and decided “OK, it’s time”.
EE: Has the fact that you guys have played together for so many years influenced the album?
JD: Sure, it definitely has. It’s influenced compositions, it’s influenced how we play, and it’s influenced the spirit of it. I think the album is certainly not perfect – I don’t think any musician would ever say that about their album – but what it does have is a really exciting spirit. We’re all really spirited people, and spirited players. So things don’t always work out how they were rehearsed, but in a good way! Things can really just evolve in the moment. All three of us play together enough and trust each other enough that things can happen that are unexpected, and can turn out to be “happy mistakes.”
EE: So a lot of the album was improvised on the spot, during recordings?
JD: Yeah, definitely. The majority of the album was improvised on the spot!
EE: You’ve mentioned in your preview video that both trust and risk are important components of the album.
JD: That goes for anything that I play. I always like to bring that to the table. I think the more you know the individual that you play with, the more trust plays into it. And it’s exponential; the more you play with a person, the more you can really fall back on that trust. And it’s not just in jazz, it’s in any artistic ensemble. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The three of us together is better than any one of us alone. And that means you can take risks too, it’s something that we all really get a kick out of; not knowing where a tune is going to go. We have a rough guideline, then we just kind of go and see what happens.
The album launch is November 20 at l’Astral (305 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest), at 8 p.m. $30.10/27.00$ for students, and include the performance and a copy of the CD.