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Posted: January 29, 2013

Childs is still “a machine”

The first time I saw Morgan Childs beat the savage living skins out of a drum kit was a mesmerizing, swirling afternoon on the side of a mountain above Fairmont Hot Springs.

It was the first running of the Mountain Music and Arts Festival, an endeavour led by Fairmont and Columbia Valley musicians, business owners and media that presented local music and art talents at the base of Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Hill.

The first act up was a band of Invermere area high school kids. They had the right panache and sneer for their ages and sound and they caused an early furor because one of them shouted “fuck” or some associated form thereof. As the event was a family affair – this did not sit well with the establishment.

As one of the event organizers, standing next to the resort owner, it was one of those ‘oh shit’ moments.

Also standing beside me was my oldest friend, Dingbat Alien, one of the finest musicians I knew. Having battled through the ego-soaked musical scenes of Western Canada, he was not one to hand out compliments when it came to other musicians’ chops.

“That drummer is a freakin’ machine,” he said, clearly impressed by young Morgan Childs, son of local music teacher and musician Bruce Childs.

All I knew is young Morgan had to be talented drummer to earn a genuine ‘well done’ from the Dingbat.

Seems my friend’s ear was rather well tuned.

Morgan Childs and his Quartet play Fernie Feb. 6.

Morgan Childs is now an award-winning 30-year-old drummer living in Toronto, Ontario, who is embarking on long and winding tour through the Yukon and B.C. along with multi-award-winning saxophonist Kelly Jefferson, former Boss Brass pianist Dave Restivo and one of Toronto’s most in-demand bassists, Jon Maharaj.

Before moving to Toronto in 2009, Childs spent 10 years in the Vancouver music scene.

During that time, he has built an international career as a performer and educator with some of the world’s finest musicians. He is highly regarded among both his peers and elder musicians for his deep swing feel, sensitivity, versatility and musicality, as well as his reverence for jazz history and wide-ranging musical vocabulary.

Showing enviable versatility, Childs is also a noted composer and bandleader. His groups have been frequently featured on CBC radio shows Hot Air, Tonic, and JazzBeat. Morgan has been the recipient of the Fraser McPherson Memorial Scholarship, three CBC Galaxie Rising Star awards at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival (2006, 2007, 2008), the 2009 and 2012 General Motors Grand Prix du Jazz at the Montréal Jazz Festival (with The Amanda Tosoff Quartet and Robi Botos Trio, respectively), and a 2010 TD Fellowship in Jazz from the Banff Centre.

Childs earned a degree in jazz performance from Capilano University in North Vancouver, and received a scholarship to attend the world renowned Banff Centre International Jazz Workshop in 2002 and 2003. A disciplined and dedicated student of his craft, Childs has sought private instruction with an impressive list of elite drum artists, including Blaine Wikjord, Dave Robbins, Clarence Penn, Ari Hoenig, Jim Black, Gregory Hutchinson, Byron Landham and Alan Jones.

Childs has performed across North America as a leader and a sideman at major festivals, universities, clubs and concert venues. Some of the artists he’s has performed or recorded with include Ingrid Jensen, Rob Scheps, Mike Murley, Brad Turner, Bill Coon, Mike Allen, Phil Dwyer, Laila Biali, Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Brandi Disterheft, David Braid, Hugh Fraser, Robi Botos, Zach Brock, Chris Gale, Kelly Jefferson, and Don Thompson.

As an educator, Childs has been a clinician at high school and university music programs in Canada and the United States, and was an artist in residence and instructor at the Phil Dwyer Academy of Musical and Culinary Arts (PDAMCA), an innovative summer music camp in Qualicum, alongside faculty that included Phil Dwyer, Don Thompson, Ted Quinlan and Christine Jensen.

Fernie music lovers have a chance to catch one of this region’s most accomplished and talented musicians when the Morgan Childs Quartet takes to the stage at The Arts Station on Feb. 6. Showtime is 8 p.m.

What can Fernie music lovers expect to hear?

“It’s a group of award-winning musicians – some of the country’s very finest jazz talent – and we play a mix of originals, standards and a few carefully-selected pieces from outside the jazz realm… something by Feist, Rufus Wainwright etc.,” Childs described.

Jazz legend PJ Perry once remarked to him, “You’re keeping the Canadian shit alive! You make me proud!”

While Alexander Varty of the The Georgia Straight succinctly put it: “[Childs] drops bombs like Max Roach while riding the cymbals like Billy Higgins.”

Tickets available at Carosella, Freshies, The Arts Station, and Online.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW


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