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Jazz man plays on

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Nov 24/06) - You could say that Bob Mumford is a jazz pioneer in town.

Mumford, who has lived in Inuvik for the past 17 years, plays a wide range of instruments and has entertained many people, young and old.

Mumford has always played jazz since his days of attending university.

"Jazz is spontaneous, it's not the same music over and over," said Mumford.

His Northern career began in the early 90s, when he met guitar player Mike Whiteside.

"When I met Mike, we were jamming at the Trapper a lot," said Mumford. "We formed the Blue Tundra Band with some others in town."

Mumford's style proved to be a unique addition to the local music scene. That early group released an album in a style that Mumford calls "folk rock with a bit of blues."

When Mumford originally moved north from Edmonton, he called Tsiigehtchic his home.

"After the Blue Tundra Band split, I moved back to Tsiigehtchic and played the mandolin with a fiddle band," said Mumford.

It was during a Christmas visit in Victoria that Mumford rediscovered his true passion, jazz music.

A seniors' centre had a dance and invited Mumford to play with the house band.

"It had been a few years since I played the sax," he said.

"It was all dance music from the 40s. I had a focus for jazz again."

On returning to Inuvik, Mumford called on Whiteside again, this time to play some jazz.

"I knew that Mike already knew how to play jazz, so we started jamming again," said Mumford.

It was in April 2002 that both musicians met Colin McCready, Miki O'Kane and Carrie Young.

The group started practising that summer. By fall, they had formed the ensemble known as "Razzamajazz."

Mumford said the band has been meeting twice a week since then for practices.

"It's kinda hard playing in Inuvik, there aren't a lot of venues," said Mumford.

The group released an album last spring and have been playing some shows in Inuvik.

"We recently played the Legion's Remembrance Day dance," said Mumford.

The saxophone is a rare instrument to find in the North, so Mumford has to take special precautions with his equipment.

"I had an older one that wasn't working properly," he said.

It may have had something to do with Mumford leaving his old sax in his truck, in -30C temperatures.

"The cold weather would mess with the pads, which would make it sound different."

"I take really good care of this one," he said.

"Now, I bring this with me and keep it indoors."

Mumford said the most rewarding part of playing music in the North is that he feels a bond with his listeners.

"When the band makes that connection with the audience, it creates an energy," he said.