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Jazz fans can’t get enough of Dennis McAndrew

Veteran sax player a regular with Joe Huron Trio
Sax man Dennis McAndrew. Photo provided

The weekly Sunday jazz sessions at Sticky Fingers on Dunlop Street West in Barrie have seen veteran players work their magic for a growing army of followers, usually providing yeoman support to the Joe Huron Trio.

Lately, one of those has been saxophone master Dennis McAndrew, who last graced Simcoe County in late August. It was then that BarrieToday got a chance to catch up with the musician and gain some insight on his career.

McAndrew, to begin with, is rather high on playing in Barrie, which he regards as a jazz “core," a town that truly appreciates the form, supports it and helps this kind of music grow.

“Because of its close link to Toronto, Barrie is able to attract great musicians from Toronto to come and play," he said. "Joe Huron has been presenting jazz on Sunday for over 15 years and he has built a core of followers during that time period,” giving a shout-out to his friend and ally.

McAndrew grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, began taking piano lessons when he was eight years old and started tooting on the sax at 16.

He admits to having rather catholic tastes in what he plays.

“It is all over the map, from swing, funk, pop, Latin, to blues, hip hop, R&B and lounge.”

McAndrew attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, taught music in Winnipeg for nine years and has continued to so in Collingwood for the last 21 years, the thinking being that when one teaches something, one understands it better him or herself.

Beyond his kinship with Huron, McAndrew has been under the spell of saxman and composer Michael Brecker for sometime, whether it be from The Brecker Brothers (1975-1980), his albums with Claus Ogerman (Cityscape and Gate of Dreams), or his ballad album, The Nearness of You (2001) and his last album, Pilgrimage (2007).

McAndrew speaks highly of Huron’s ability to accommodate other players.

“Joe brings in a wide variety of musicians and they play all play different styles of jazz," he said. "They great thing about Joe’s trio is their capability to adapt to whoever is being featured any particular Sunday.”

It’s been a busy summer and early fall for McAndrew, and given his popularity with Barrie fans, it is likely that devotees will again hear the sound of his horn soon.

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Glenn Wilkins

About the Author: Glenn Wilkins

Glenn Wilkins, in a 30-year media career, has written for print and electronic media, as well as for TV and radio. Glenn has two books under his belt, profiling Canadian actors on Broadway and NHL coaches.
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