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Music Memory - Mike Downes

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project":  a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

This week's Music Memory comes from Mike Downes. Mike is one of the busiest bassists in Canada, in demand as a player, composer, arranger, and educator.  Besides leading his own ensembles and as an integral part of Molly Johnson’s ensemble, Mike has also  appeared with the likes of Diana Krall, Oliver Jones, and PJ Perry, as well as Michael Brecker, Phil Woods and Chris Potter.  Mike is the Head of the Bass department at the Humber College School of Music.

“One day I was sitting in my room in Winnipeg, playing along with some recordings of rock bands I liked. We do that a lot in Winnipeg. :-)  I was in about grade 6. My Dad got tired of me playing along with those recordings so he brought me downstairs and got me to play along with Miles Davis's "Milestones" recording.

Even though I had no idea what I was doing, he told me to just play the time feel along with Paul Chambers.  He also told me to think about the contour of my bass lines and to try hear the harmony.  My Dad was a bassist, and he opened the door to a whole new kind of music to me.  Now that I look back, it taught me a lot about playing bass and using my ears in a different way. Thanks, Dad!”

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