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Christian Overton

This week we feature trombonist Christian Overton, who took part in Jazzology in 2010.

Originally from Sudbury, Christian moved to Toronto to complete his undergraduate studies at Humber College and his graduate studies at the University of Toronto. His teachers have included Kelsley Grant, Alistair Kay , Gary Kulesha, Pat LaBarbera, John MacLeod, and Tim Ries.

Since completing his studies, he has established himself as a performer and composer on the music Toronto scene in a variety of genres.  He has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Peter Appleyard, Jully Black, John Clayton, John MacLeod, Hermeto Pascoal, and Alain Trudel. His ensemble credits include the Don Thompson Big Band, John MacLeod's Rex Hotel Orchestra, the Art of Time Ensemble, NOJO, Gary Morgan’s Panamerican All Stars, and KC Roberts & the Live Revolution.

Christian also leads his own Composers Collective Big Band and Quintet.  He has composed widely for numerous jazz and chamber groups, as well as television projects and commissions for Ranee Lee and Dave Douglas.

Most recently, Christian has launched Clovertone Music Publishing, an innovative sheet music publishing company designed to get customized Canadian material in to the classroom and connect today’s professional musicians with the next generation. Featured composers include Alison Au, Andy Ballantyne, Jason Logue, and Terry Promane.

Christian took time out of his busy schedule to outline his current activities and discuss his experience in the Jazzology program:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

I quite enjoyed my experience with the program. The opportunity for a young artist to share and discuss their musical influences is rare but so important in understanding the music that the artist creates. It was also an opportunity to share music that would not normally be a part of the JAZZ.FM91 playlist, hopefully encouraging listeners to check out music that they may not have heard of.

2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

At one point in the interview, I thought I had been doing well answering the questions with at least a small amount of coherence, when Brad asked me, "why would anyone very play valve trombone?" The questioned was so unexpected and something I’ve never been asked that I didn’t know what to say! As a slide trombonist I am certainly partial to that instrument while at the same time I have the utmost respect for the pre-eminent valve trombonists of our time. It certainly took some time and dead air to figure out how to explain that one.

3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

Yes. Discussing your own music in a coherent way with media or the general public is essential to getting gigs and fans and convincing others that you have something to say artistically that’s worth hearing. Also as instrumentalists we need to be able to be comfortable speaking to an audience and this program provides practical experience for that.

4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

I think any discussion of your own influences tends to refocus you on why you love playing music in the first place and where you want to go with it.

5) This program is made possible by our generous sponsors at RBC who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

I would say thank you for giving opportunities to developing musicians to get their music out there, you are supporting the future of music in this country. Also, thank you for giving the public an opportunity to listen to what young players have to say. Priority in gigs and airplay is usually given to well-known artists so putting a spotlight on a young musician’s music is invaluable.

6) Why is music education important?

Without education in the arts those arts will die. Without any insight into the history, form, purpose, or how the music is created, it is too much effort for the general population to understand the art music that’s being played, and they will simply not listen to it.

7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?

Since the program I have completed my master’s degree and I am enjoying a richly diverse playing, writing and teaching career in music playing in many different music scenes throughout the city and province.

8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

Lately, I’ve been buying as many records as I can from other local musicians, checking out the sounds and personalities that are all around us inspiring each other to be better every day. Toronto is a wonderful place to be playing music and is full of great artists.

9) What are your plans for the future?

I will be releasing my first Quintet record called The Test in early September - stay tuned for more details! Also I’ll be featuring the great Pat LaBarbera with my groupm the Composers Collective Big Band later this year.

10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

People can check out my website:

11) Is there anything else that you want to add?

I’d also like to promote my publishing company Clovertone Music which is an all Canadian sheet music publisher specializing in music for school jazz bands. We feature many top composers and the music is available at St. John’s Music and Long & McQuade country-wide or via our website:

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.


About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project

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