Paul Plimley listens for the transformative experience in jazz

Pianist Paul Plimley

Paul Plimley is a veteran Vancouver International Jazz Festival musician. He has performed every year since its inception in 1986, save for the occasional year he was out of the city. 

While recounting one of his earliest memories, the charismatic pianist describes what he terms the “transformative experience” of music drifting out the open front door on a warm, sunny summer day. Though he cannot recall the artist, he remembers that it was “melodic, beautiful music”. A bond was formed that day between Plimley and music and it is one that he has not severed. 

This passion endured, leading him to study music at UBC. While he appreciated the intensity of Cream and Jimi Hendrix (who he was even lucky enough to see perform live), Miles Davis’ Filles de Kilimanjaro album sparked his interest in jazz, or as he calls it, “American improvised music”. Initially a challenging listen compared to his previous taste, but he’s glad that he persevered.   

Plimley advises a person new to jazz listen with an open mind and not over-intellectualize. Feeling odd and experiencing something outside the sphere of familiarity (he considers improvisation to be an exploration) enhances the connection to the music. The more you listen, the more you will hear and feel the “world of music.”     

This year, Plimley will play with bassist Tommy Babin and drummer Joe Poole. It will be his first time playing with Poole and he has heard only good things, so it should prove to be an exceptional collaboration. Or to live by one of the wonderfully whimsical Plimley-ism’s, “The best thing is that you connect with what is incredible.”  

The Plimley/ Babin/ Poole Experience is on Friday, June 20 at 1:30 pm at Performance Works on Granville Island, and it’s free!

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