Because major cities in Canada are much farther apart than they are in the States, local jazz scenes there tend to be more isolated than in the U.S. This is particularly true for musicians who live outside the Big Three metro centers of Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver. Calgary is 1,686 miles from Toronto, Canada’s English media center; Edmonton 1,677 miles. New York may as well be on another continent.
That may be the only rational explanation for how the Jim Brenan 11 could contain so many excellent musicians so few in jazz would have heard of. Drawn from the crème de la crème of the Calgary and Edmonton jazz scenes, this mid-sized big band reflects Brenan’s desire to showcase the best of Alberta’s jazz scene, and if 50/50 has a fault, it’s that the large band format often emphasizes the ensemble sound at the expense of individual voices.