Mark Segger

This week’s featured artist is drummer Mark Segger, who participated in Jazzology in 2008.

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Mark attended MacEwan University there before moving to Anigonish, Nova Scotia to complete his Bachelor of Music degree at St. Francis Xavier University. Following that, he completed his Master of Music degree at the University of Toronto and also attended the Vancouver Creative Music Institute in 2008, the Banff International Jazz Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in 2009, and the School for Improvised Music in Brooklyn, New York in 2010.

As a drummer, composer, and bandleader involved in the jazz and improvised music scenes in Toronto, he performs with a variety of ensembles. In addition to leading his own sextet, Mark performs regularly with the Kyle Brenders Quartet, the Parker Abbott Piano Duo, Tova Kardonne’s The Thing Is, Pete Johnson’s See Through Quintet, and the improvising duo Segger vs Segger. In addition, he performs solo drum concerts and as a part of various free-improvising groups.

Mark took some time to discuss his experience with the Jazzology program as well as his more recent musical activities:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

I had a good experience.  Larry Green kept the conversation rolling with questions. That was my favorite aspect I would say, being at the radio interview energy level and talking with Larry because sometimes he would fine tune the conversation getting me to go into great detail and other times take it in unexpected directions, all at a fairly driving pace. I remember it being a wild ride.

2) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

Yes, because it’s a different way of putting your ideas out into the world, different than performing and composing music,  in that you are expressing what inspires and drives you using words. I found that it was a focusing thing to do, helpful in moving my overall practice forward as an artist.

3) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

In addition to what I mentioned in the previous question, it also de-mystified being on the radio for me –having done it once and having had a good experience, I am comfortable trying to include radio in my promotional activities.

4) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

I am very grateful to everyone who supports these initiatives, as well as those who support the arts in general. Thank you so much for contributing tangible resources that help to make things happen, and also for believing in arts and arts education. Your generous donations, sponsorship, and overall support provide an excellent base for these programs to thrive.

5) Why is music education important?

It brings together musicians of all experience levels and expertise, united by a passion for playing music, who work together, shaping today’s music. The learning goes both ways and it can be a very healthy and inspiring situation. It can be a great way for deep musical traditions to perpetuate and develop, which keeps the music alive and exciting. 

6) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?

I finished my Masters degree at the University of Toronto, attended the Banff Jazz Workshop, Vancouver Creative Music Workshop, and School for Improv in Brooklyn. I also started the Mark Segger Sextet, which has been generously supported by the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council for compositions, recording, touring, and rehearsing and we will be releasing a second album in the New Year.

Last year I researched creative music scenes in cities across Europe for three months, also with support from the Canada Council. I have played in a large number of creative jazz and improvised music projects in Toronto over the past seven years. 

In addition to the Mark Segger Sextet, long term projects that I continue to record and tour with are the Kyle Brenders Quartet, the Parker Abbott Trio and Segger vs Segger. I also did a two-month weekly residency of solo drum concerts a couple of years ago, and always have that in mind as a continuous project as well.

7) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

Most of the time I listen to my iTunes library on shuffle, and I find that inspiring in itself because of the way it juxtaposes music. I really like that some days its totally off (or I’m off … probably a combination, its kind of like improvising with someone, improvising with an algorithm operating on your music collection) and no matter how many times I skip to the next tune it’s just not happening, and then there are days when every single song that comes next is the best music I have ever heard, iTunes is on FIRE, and there’s no way a person could have ever picked such a diverse mix of songs (and also the diversity between one day’s shuffle to the next day’s) of their own accord out of a 20,000 + song library, and of course attempting that method would eliminate the element of surprise.  I guess I’m going on about this a little bit, but I read in a book, I think it was “Talking Music” by William Duckworth that before digital music John Zorn used to record one song each from records onto mix-tapes, would pick as contrasting music as possible, and those tapes are what he would listen to – that kind of time-intensive work for something like that is something I could see myself doing and I just think its so awesome that now you can just click shuffle.

But the last time I WAS delving into something in particular I got really excited about string quartets, especially composers like Ligeti, Kurtag, Schnittke, Lachenmann, Rihm, and what inspires me about that music, aside from the indescribable, is how creative the composers are in writing for such a historic, tried and true traditional instrumentation.

8) What are your plans for the future?

Short term events include the following:

October 23 – November 2: CD Release tour with the Parker Abbott Trio.

October 28, 7:30pm, Transac – Free improvising with some very exciting local musicians – Bateman/ Miller/ Segger with guest vocalist Christine Duncan.

November  2, 10pm, Array Music Studio – John Oswald, Lina Allemano and Marilyn Lerner

November 4th, 10pm, Transac – The Mark Segger Sextet

9) How can people learn more about you and your activities?


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