The Greg Runions Septet
was formed to perform some of the original music created by Kingston vibraphonist/composer Greg Runions. The ensemble features the unique format of vibes/guitar and tenor/trumpet plus a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums. The current version of the septet features Greg Runions on vibes, Dave Barton on guitar, Jonathon Stewart on saxophone, John Macleod on trumpet, Brian Dickinson on piano, Artie Roth on bass and Mike Cassells. The group has two recordings - But Not Forgotten and their newest - Something Old, Something New.
The Greg Runions Big Band
was formed in the late 90's to create an outlet for the music Greg was creating. Originally the band was made up of musicians from the Kingston area. It has since evolved and now draws on musicians from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston.
The band has developed a number of projects that have featured original music for large ensemble. Since it's inception they have featured the following performers in concerts of their music - Tim Hagans, John MacLeod, Mike Murley, Bret Zvacek, Fred Stride, Don Thompson, Kenny Wheeler, Quinson Nachof, Paul Tynan and Rob Frayne.
The big band has 2 recordings - Suite Home Suite and their most recent project - Suite Vincent.
Frequent Septet Collaborators
Greg Runions, vibraphone
Vibraphonist, composer and arranger, Greg Runions has been fortunate to perform with some outstanding artists. These include Brian Dickinson, Roy Patterson, Anthony Braxton, Don Thompson, John McLeod, Tony Bennett and Kenny Wheeler. He has studied at Queen's University (BMus), The Crane School of Music (MMus) and the Banff Center (Jazz Workshop). Self taught as a composer and arranger, Runions has been fortunate to have his works performed by many of Canada’s best musicians. He has created numerous works for big band and has also arranged works for big band and full orchestra. Greg resides in Kingston where he performs in the Kingston Symphony and teaches at Queen's University.
Dave Barton, guitar
Dave Barton first studied guitar by trying to copy Chet Atkins records at the age of 10. At 16 Dave started gigging in dance bands , with musicians that talked like they were in New York in the ’50’s. “ Hey, Davey-Daddy! bring your axe and we’ll wail! “
Those musicians were great mentors! Dave went on to study classical guitar, composition and education at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, (BMus 1981 and BEd 1982) and to study jazz as a lifelong vocation. Dave taught high school band and guitar classes, and was also a guidance counsellor and special education teacher. Dave is a busy performer, composer, teacher (currently teaching in the St. Lawrence College Music and Digital Media program) and arranger. Dave has performed live in all venues: jazz clubs, musical theatre, recordings, concerts. Recorded performances include Motianless (with Mike Cassells) The Solo Standard, Snapshot, Sweet Home Suite (with the Greg Runions Big Band),
Oil Thigh (with the Queen’s University Alumni Big Band), and But Not Forgotten (with the Greg Runions Quintet featuring Kenny Wheeler). Dave is currently performing in a duo format with his son Paul, with the Kingston Jazz Composers Collective, and various club dates around Kingston.
Jonathon Stewart, tenor saxophone
Jon Stewart has studied saxophone with Pat Labarbera. He has worked as a freelance musician in the pop and jazz field. His performance credits include Haskell and the Cleavers, the Linda Laurence Blues Band, Marianne Trudel, and the Greg Runions Big Band. Jon is a graduate of Humber College and the McGill university jazz studies program.
John MacLeod, trumpet/flugelhorn
John MacLeod's credentials as a trumpeter/composer/arranger have been firmly established in a distinguished career spanning over thirty years on the Canadian music scene. He has worked with Toronto's most elite musicians and musical organizations in both the jazz and commercial music fields. Although most widely known as a jazz trumpet/flugelhorn soloist, he has also had an active career in the recording studios, theatrical orchestra pits and as a backup musician for dozens of internationally celebrated "name acts". As a jazz artist, he has had the opportunity to perform with many of the music's legends as well as some of the top names in the world today. He has worked with literally every major figure on the Toronto scene and was a featured soloist with one of the world’s most renowned big bands Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass from 1983 until it's demise. He has performed on well over fifty albums and C.D. recordings including Grammy and Juno award winners. He has also acted as a producer/engineer on almost that many again, several of which also garnered Juno awards.
At the last National Jazz Awards ceremony held in 2009, John felt honoured to be voted "Arranger Of The Year". As a composer and arranger he has scored music for everything from string quartets up to full symphonic orchestra. His big band arrangements can be found in the repertoires of professional and student groups all over Canada, the U.S.A. Europe and Asia. He also frequently works as a guest conductor/clinician/ soloist in Denmark where several groups regularly perform his big band charts. He has been the recipient of arts grants from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council to create new works for large jazz ensemble. He has also received numerous commissions to create music for school groups, professional big bands and symphony orchestras. He has created a full program of music associated with Louis Armstrong to feature American trumpeter Marcus Belgrave with symphony orchestra which has been performed in halls across the U.S. and Canada, including the renowned Detroit Symphony. He has also completed several large projects to feature clarinetist Bob Deangelis with symphony orchestra, including "The Coronation Of A King" - a tribute to Benny Goodman which premiered at the Living Arts Center in Mississauga and has been performed by many North American symphony orchestras since. He is the musical director for Bob DeAngelis and the Champagne Symphony which has performed at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto and Carnegie Hall in New York City. He has also been a guest conductor with the Winnipeg Symphony and the Tucson Symphony orchestras.
In 2003, as a vehicle for his arranging and composing, John formed his own large jazz ensemble, the 20 piece group known as John MacLeod and the Rex Hotel Orchestra. They have maintained a feature spot at the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar on the last Monday of every month from 2003 to the present. In October of 2010 the band released it's first CD recording entitled "Our First Set" which in March of 2011 received the Juno award for "Best Traditional Jazz Album".
John has been teaching at Humber College in Toronto since 2003 and at the Faculty of Music since 2005.
Brian Dickinson, piano
BRIAN DICKINSON (pianist, arranger, composer, author, educator) was born October 17, 1961 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He arrived on the Toronto scene in 1979 and has remained active in Toronto venues ever since performing with the crème de la crème of the jazz world including Pat LaBarbera, Kenny Wheeler, Jerry Bergonzi, Kirk MacDonald, Randy Brecker, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman, Michael Becker, Dave Holland, Kieran Overs, Maria Schneider, Steve Gadd, and Sonny Fortune.
Now head of the keyboard department at Toronto’s Humber College, Dickinson is a graduate of the Humber Music Program and holds a Masters in Music (with distinction) degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston. He is the author of a respected book on ear training, entitled The Ears Have Walls (published by Advance Music of Germany.
As a leader, Dickinson has released six records including the Juno Award-winning In Transition. His latest released include The Glenn Gould Sessions (Philology Records) in which he performs in a duo setting with Lee Konitz, and Soul Mission (Elan Records) as part of a quartet with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi. He can also be heard as a sideman on many notable Canadian jazz recordings and has toured extensively throughout North America and the Far East. He remains an important player in clubs and on festival concert stages across Canada.
Artur Roth, bass
Toronto-born jazz bassist Artie Roth has been an active composer, bandleader, performer and educator in the national and international jazz communities, since his graduation from York University in 1992 with the Oscar Peterson Scholarship. After two Canada Council sponsored study tenures in New York City (1993 and 1997), Artie returned to Toronto establishing himself as one of the busiest, full-time composer/performers in Toronto. As well as leading his own group, Artie is also an active member of The Rich Underhill Group, The Bob Brough Quartet and Kollage.
As a side-person, he has been recorded on over 40 CDs including Rich Underhill's 2003 JUNO award winning Tales from the blue lounge and 2007 JUNO nominatedKensington Suite, Sophie Milman's JUNO nominated debut CD and Rockit 88's 2004 JUNO nominated Too Much Fun. Artie has toured extensively, performing in theatres, festivals and jazz venues regionally, nationally and internationally. More specifically, on a national level, this touring has included dates on the east coast (2001), Quebec (2003) and Manitoba (2005) with jazz vocalist Melissa Stylianou, as well as cross-Canada tours with The Sean Bray Quartet (1995), The Rez Abassi Quartet (2000) and The Rich Underhill Group (2010). Internationally, tours in the U.S.A. have included performances with The Greg Runions Sextet featuring Kenny Wheeler (1994) and The Lynne Arriale Trio (1997).
Artie's overseas engagements have included performances with The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band in Germany (1996), The Steve Koven Trio in Mexico (2003) and Columbia (2005) and The Shuffle Demons tour of Europe and Scandinavia (2007). The year 2005 proved to be exciting for Artie. As well as being nominated for a National Jazz Award in the category of Bassist of the Year, he had the honour of accompanying such jazz legends as Anita O'Day, Curtis Fuller an Marcus Belgrave. In addition to his active composer/band-leading and freelance career, Artie currently holds the position of Bass Instructor at York University and is pursuing Classical Bass Studies through Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.
Mike Cassells, drums
Drummer Mike Cassells has been playing music in Kingston for over 20 years. During this time he has established himself as one of the cities most creative drummers. Mike can be heard locally performing regularly with Georgette Fry, Jonathon Stewart or Dave Barton. Over the years he has been fortunate to perform with several established jazz artists including Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Mike Murley, Joe Sullivan, Paul Tynan, Hugh Fraser. Active as a composer and an educator, Mike has created music in a wide variety of styles and currently teaches at St. Lawrence College in their Digital Arts for Musicians program.