Ryan Oliver

This week’s featured artist is saxophonist Ryan Oliver, who participated in Jazzology in 2007.

Ryan Oliver honed his craft living on Canada’s west coast, and in Amsterdam, Toronto and New York. A graduate of the undergraduate jazz program at Humber College, Oliver completed a master’s degree at Rutgers in Newark, New Jersey in 2009. Now based in Toronto, Oliver’s debut recording, Convergence, was released in 2007. His latest recording, Strive!, features legendary drummer Victor Lewis.

He has received numerous Canada and Ontario Arts Council grants and was nominated for the 2013 Prix De Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival. He maintains a weekly residency with Organic, and is a member of The Cookers quintet as well as Tonight at Noon, an octet that plays the music of Charles Mingus.

He is a member of Juno award-winning Aboriginal blues/rock performer Derek Miller’s group, and appears on Miller’s most recent recording that features Stevie Ray Vaughn’s rhythm section Double Trouble and Willie Nelson. The group’s album, Derek Miller and Double Trouble, was nominated for a JUNO award in 2011. Oliver has toured India, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America with the Shuffle Demons.

As an educator, Oliver has been a featured clinician at Malaspina College, Western University, the University of Windsor and high schools throughout North America. As well, Oliver is the Artistic Director for the Toronto’s Harbord St. Jazz Festival, an annual festival that celebrates the pairing of fine dining and jazz.

Ryan took some time to discuss his experience with the Jazzology program and talk about his recent musical activities:

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

I had a great time doing the interview for Jazzology.  I enjoyed having a chance to talk about some of the musicians who made a difference in my career including my first saxophone teacher, Michael Butterfield.

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

Yes I would.  Any time a young musician has a chance to talk on air, or in an interview context, it’s a good opportunity. Interviews like Jazzology give young musicians a chance to reflect on the music and musicians that have influenced them.

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

Jazzology gave me an opportunity to talk on air and play some of my music on air as well.

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?

The idea of supporting art and artists is an important one in today’s music scene.  Making a living as a musician is a constant struggle, so I appreciate donors and sponsors who help the cause.

5) Why is music education important?

It’s a great way to make connections and to meet likeminded musicians.  Formal education is only one way to do that. 

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

I maintain a busy performance schedule leading my own groups and playing with local groups including the Cookers, Organic (every Sunday at Joe Mama’s with Nathan Hiltz, Bernie Senensky and Morgan Childs) and Tonight at Noon, an octet that performs the music of Charles Mingus.  My debut recording Convergence was selected by CODA magazine as one of the top 10 Canadian jazz recordings of 2008. My second CD, Strive! features legendary jazz drummer Victor Lewis. I was nominated for the 2013 Prix De Jazz at the Montreal jazz Festival. I also have toured India, New Zealand and Australia, Canada, Europe and the US with legendary Canadian saxophone band, the Shuffle Demons.  From 2007-09, I lived in New York, completing a Masters degree in Jazz Performance at Rutgers University and performing throughout the city.

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

Saxophonists George Coleman and John Coltrane and pianist/vocalist Johnny O’Neal.  I love listening to the masters of the music I try to play.  They embrace tradition, have a solid understanding of the standard repertoire, but find their own voice within it. 

8) What are your plans for the future?

Continue on the same path I’ve been on for the last while, I suppose.   I am leaving for a tour of India with the Shuffle Demons on Sunday. The Cookers Quintet will be releasing our second record on Do Right Music, a Toronto label, in January 2015. 

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

All of my information can be found at my website: www.ryanoliver.ca

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.

About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project