Three time Juno-nominated bassist, composer, producer and educator Jodi Proznick has earned a reputation as one of Canada’s finest jazz artists. She has won numerous National Jazz Awards, including Bassist of the Year in ’08 and ’09. Her group, the Jodi Proznick Quartet, was awarded the Acoustic Group of the Year and Album of the Year in ‘08 and the Galaxie Rising Star at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in ‘04. Most recently, Jodi was awarded the Jazz Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards and the Platinum Jubilee Art and Music Award from the Lieutenant Governer of British Columbia.
Jodi has performed with many of Canada’s top musicians, including P.J. Perry, Don Thompson, Kirk MacDonald, Guido Basso, Oliver Gannon, Dee Daniels, Phil Dwyer, Mark Fewer, Bill Henderson and Laila Biali as well as international jazz legends such as David 'Fathead' Newman, Sheila Jordan, George Coleman, Seamus Blake, Lewis Nash, Peter Bernstein, Tootie Heath, Bucky Pizzarelli, Russell Malone, Harold Mabern, Eddie Daniels and Ed Thigpen. In addition to recording her own Juno-nominated CDs as a leader, Jodi has been featured on over 50 recordings as a sidewoman and is co-leader of Triology (f. Miles Black and Bill Coon), the Ostara Project and others.
JODI PROZNICK: METAPHORIC SUNRISE
24 DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE, April 2018
Ten years ago, bassist Jodi Proznick’s ascending career hit a plateau due to fam- ily matters. After earning a Juno nomination for her 2007 quartet album, Foundations, Proznick discovered she was pregnant, and she learned that her mother had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and therefore would need a great deal of assistance and care.
Today, Proznick is re-energizing her career as a bandleader with the new album Sun Songs (Cellar Live), a collection of eight original com- positions and an interpretation of Stephin Merritt’s “The Book Of Love.” Proznick’s top-notch band includes pianist Tilden Webb (who is also her husband), saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, drummer Jesse Cahill and vocalist Laila Biali. Featuring emotionally charged material, Sun Songs is a powerful artistic statement.
Music was central to Proznick’s life even as a toddler. Starting on the piano at 3 years old and musically literate by age 5, Proznick settled on the bass in the eighth grade. “I had not seen many girls play the bass and that was cool,” she recalled. “I dug the idea that the bass was in the back of the band and I could just do my thing and play and be a support [player].”
At age 13, she experienced a pivotal moment at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, where she saw a trio performance by pianist Gene Harris, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jeff Hamilton. “We were in the fourth row,” she reminisced. “I was a 13-year-old kid with my jaw on the floor. It felt like the most joyful thing I had ever seen in my life.”
A first-call bassist, Proznick has played on 40 recordings. Among the luminaries with whom she has performed or toured are pianist Harold Mabern, saxophonists George Coleman and Seamus Blake, singer Dee Daniels and multi-in- strumentalist Phil Dwyer. A dedicated jazz edu- cator, Proznick is a faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and serves as the artistic director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s School of Music Summer Jazz Workshop.
Her accolades include numerous National Jazz Awards in Canada, and she was the featured bassist for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games’ closing ceremonies and soundtrack.
Sun Songs represents a new chapter in her career. Proznick and her bandmates Webb, Kaldestad and Cahill began playing music together at Montreal’s McGill University in the 1990s. These musicians, along with Biali, helped Proznick craft an album that honestly and sen- sitively explores her experiences of motherhood, as well as the difficulties of her own mother’s struggle with dementia.
Because Proznick had so many caretaking responsibilities for several years, she didn’t have a great deal of time to compose music. During those years, whenever inspiration struck, she would sing a melody into her cell phone. “[Musical ideas] were coming from my body, my voice, my words,” Proznick explained. “This whole album is not about showing what a good bass player I am or how clever. It is just about the heart.”
The opening track, “Listen,” features a luminous, uplifting lyric collaboration with songwriter Shari Ulrich. The exquisitely emo- tional and cathartic “Let Go” was inspired by Proznick’s life: “One day, Mom was crying and kind of panicking, and I watched my dad put his hands on either side of her face, look her in the eye and just say, ‘Patty, I’m here. It’s OK; you are safe.’ That changed me forever.”
Another collaborator on the album is poet, dancer and scholar Celeste Snowber, who co-wrote “Ancient Yearning” with Proznick. Inspired by Snowber’s lyrics, the bassist recalled, “I was imagining if Trane was to write a lyric, what would he write? That’s what I hear in A Love Supreme—that longing, that crying out.”
“It was pretty remarkable,” Kaldestad said regarding the process of creating Sun Songs. “[Proznick] had such a clear inspiration for this project. The music is just something she had to do. It is powerful and so personal.”
Proznick is planning to promote the album with a tour of intimate concerts. “Everyone has been through difficult times, and I am hoping people will feel their own stories in these songs and know they are not alone—because we are all in this together,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s about love.”
Jodi's Latest Release
The JUNO nominated Ostara Project, spear-headed by award-winning jazz musicians Jodi Proznick and Amanda Tosoff, showcases the strength and creativity of Canadian women in jazz. Membership is fluid and what remains constant is that Ostara artists are all top-tier musicians, composers and bandleaders who reflect the geographical, cultural and creative diversity of Canada’s musical landscape.
Ostara’s self-titled debut album (Cellar Live, 2022) features the compositions and talents of seven outstanding musicians who collectively hold nine JUNO nominations and three JUNO awards was released in November 2022 as the group embarked on a Western Canadian tour.
They are currently planning their Canadian Jazz Festival Tour in the Summer of 2023.