Written by Stephanie Dwarka Sunday, 17 June 2012 18:22
William Carn and Tara Davidson have toured and performed all over the world and now you can see them at the Toronto Jazz Festival this June.
This married couple resides in Mississauga where they continue to compose their own music, teach and practice for upcoming performances. The one thing they agree on is that their love of performing is what drives them.
"I love it because when you're performing, no matter what kind of music you're playing, it's in the moment," said Carn, who had his first performance at the age of 15.
For Davidson, performing is all about the people you work with. They met in 2003 and have been performing together ever since.
"It's a thrill to make as good music as I possibly can. It's great when you have people who you enjoy playing music with," Davidson said.
The couple performed at the Jazz Festival many times before and toured with their own bands, the William Carn Quintet and Tara Davidson Quartette. They've been doing this since they were young and continue to grow as artists.
"The first time I had to play a solo I was so nervous that my knees were shaking and I couldn't even concentrate," Carn said.
Davidson, on the other hand, picked up saxophone when she was 12 after deciding that piano wasn't the right fit.
"I had a great school that had great jazz bands, so it was a positive experience," she said.
Before becoming successful and established artists, Carn and Davidson both had mentors and artists who they looked up to.
For Carn, his influences weren't necessarily all jazz.
"I was a teenager in the '80s so that music was a big part even before I started listening to jazz," he said.
When he did discover jazz, one of his biggest influences were trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis and pianist Bill Evans.
Mike Marley, a tenor saxophonist in Toronto, was Davidson's mentor and a huge influence on how she approached her music.
"He was one of my first saxophone teachers. That's when I started to take saxophone very seriously. I listened to all his records and I used to watch him perform all the time," she said.
Both of them have been nominated for JUNO Awards and have received praise and recognition for their work.
Carn is a faculty member at the Humber College music program, the University of Toronto Jazz Studies program and the National Music Camp.
Davidson has produced three records and is a graduate of the University of Toronto Jazz Performance Program and studied with Canadian musicians like Phil Nimmons and Paul Read.
"When I was young I got praise and positive reinforcement. So in the beginning I thought, yeah, maybe I am good at something," Davidson said.
Besides performing together, they are leaders of the Carn Davidson 9 project.
It was formed in 2011 because both musicians wanted to try something new. Unlike a typical band, there are no chord instruments or piano.
"Other than me, everyone else has more than one instrument. Tara plays saxophone, flute and clarinet. It's a lot of colours in terms of sounds and have a lot of combinations and instruments," Carn said.
Project members include David French, Perry White, Jason Logue, Brian O'Kane, Terry Promane, Andrew Downing and Fabio Ragnelli, who are all Torontonians.
"All the people in the band, besides being some of Canada's greatest artists, are close personal friends. So there's a relationship there already," said Carn.
The band plays original music that's composed by Carn and Davidson. Some of the music came from Davidson's quartette as well as music they wrote together.
They used some previous compositions then worked together with some of their favourite arrangers.
"I wasn't particularly motivated to write brand new material, and I rather liked my repertoire. Since we have similar tastes, and the same approach in music and what we wanted to get out of it, it sort of made sense," Davidson said.
These two musicians say that a career in the arts must be self-motivated. They suggest hard work and practice, practice, practice.
"Strive to do all kinds of projects and play with all types of people or perform with all types of people you aspire to play with. If it's seeking out lessons, or trying to get advice from people you look up to," Davidson suggests.
"Many people who want to be famous try to do things they think other people would like but you have to have your own voice. It has to be a very personal thing rather than trying to please other people," Carn said, adding to what Davidson said.
After the festival, Carn Davidson 9 will be recording a demo in early July. They received an Ontario Arts Council recording project grant a few months ago, which is enabling them to professionally record the band. The record will be out this fall.
See them on Sunday June 24 at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Davidson will also be playing with the Mike Murley Quartette during the Festival.