Sunrise on Ganymede
My African Heart
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Bruce Cassidy (aka Fikile): The song just below was co-written by Barney Rachabane and myself. Barney is a great alto saxophone player that I worked with in South Africa. We had a band together in the 80s called ‘Conversations’ and this is a song from that collaboration. You can hear Barney on Paul Simon’s Graceland album and see him in videos of the Graceland tour. The song is a bit tongue-in-cheek in that it starts out as a serenade but gets out of hand and that’s a take on the township party vibe. This is a sample track from my new release “My African Heart“
To Download this sample track go HERE.
Tunes from the album “Sunrise on Ganymede”
Sunrise on Ganymede
It’s not easy to fully portray artists who are so varied in their skill and involvement, and Bruce is such an artist. He is not only a skilled musician, but also facilitates creativity and personal transformation in players. This has endeared him to the students he has taught and artists that have worked with him.
Born in Fredericton and schooled in Nova Scotia, Bruce Cassidy made the leap into jazz in the late 1950s, getting his start in Montreal in the company of trumpeters Herbie Spanier and Guido Basso, as well as pianist Joe Sealy. After a period of study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he moved to Toronto and was soon performing at Toronto’s main jazz venues and in studios, including his contribution to the first seven albums released by Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass.
He started out with trumpet as his first performance instrument and is today also one of the world’s foremost performers on the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a wind synthesizer invented by Nyle Steiner. He wrote and recorded the first orchestral concerto for this instrument and with it has performed the Ondes Martenot solo part in Olivier Messiaen’s Turangulila Symphony with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra.
His love of variety led to extended playing, recording and touring with Doug Riley’s Dr. Music, Lighthouse and, the fusion band Blood, Sweat & Tears (he contributed compositions and arrangements for their last two albums). Artists with whom he has appeared in concert include Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick, Anne Murray, Marvin Gaye, Chucho Valdez, and various symphony orchestras, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra included.
After a world tour in 1980 Bruce moved to South Africa and immersed himself in the African music scene. He wrote and produced music for orchestral concerts, film, television, and international dance competitions. Under the auspices of the South African Department of Arts and Culture he composed and produced an opera based on African Xhosa folklore, The Clay Flute, and produced a number of concerts for European artists and the SA internationally renowned opera singer Sibongile Khumalo. His latest album production in South Africa was Our World, a modern orchestral/jazz outing for the renowned Soweto String Quartet. In 1995 he was contracted to return to South Africa to lead an international big band at the National Arts Festival there.
His own projects in South Africa include:
- Timeless, an award winning duo which combined the EVI with the ancient instrument specialist Pops Mohamed which toured Scandanavia and central European countries
- The Body Electric (a group focused on the healing power of music) and
- A 10 piece band, the Hotfoot Orchestra which has taken root here in Toronto with the finest local musicians.
Since Bruce’s return to Toronto in 2003, he has produced, with his Los Angeles partner Ken Wiley, the first jazz play-along book for French horn.
He has also arranged Joe Zawinul’s classic “Birdland” for 16 french horns, and has written arrangements for Rick Morrison’s band The Carnival of Souls.
Bruce has formed and recorded a new, expanded band for Blood, Sweat & Tears vocalist David Clayton-Thomas, for whom is now musical director.
You can hear Bruce performing in free-form trios with guitarist Rob Piltch and bassist Shelly Berger, as well as other small groups. He is also working in a new combo, The Leaders Band, with pianist Joe Sealy, as well as a duo with Sudanese expatriate multi-instrumentalist Waleed Abdulhamid.
In the spring of 2006 Bruce performed on trumpet and EVI in the revival of the musical Hair in Toronto.
Check out Bruce’s new site HERE.