Music Memory – Andy Ballantyne

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the “Music For Memory Project”: a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

This week we hear from Andy Ballantyne, Toronto saxophonist and a professor in the Humber College Music Program.

“I have a really vivid memory of hearing a wonderful concert at Massey Hall in October of 2001, featuring Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker.

In particular, Brecker’s unaccompanied version of John Coltrane’s beautiful ballad “Naima” was just one of those magical moments you sometimes experience when hearing live music.

The hall was sold out, and from the first note it was clear the audience was totally mesmerized by the sound and the intensity of what was coming out of Michael’s saxophone.

In the silences between his phrases I felt you could literally hear a pin drop in that concert hall; everyone was under his spell.

The great thing about this memory is I can relive it whenever I want because that concert became the live album Directions in Music, which won the Grammy for best jazz instrumental album. Still, it’s never quite the same as being there.”