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    Music Memory - Ken Duncan

    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 alz.to.

    This week's Music Memory comes courtesy of listener Ken Duncan.

    “Heather I know exactly when I realized that I loved and wanted to understand and play jazz.

    In 1960, armed with my four guitar chords, I started a rock group in Montreal.  Within months we were hired to play on a passenger liner going back and forth to Europe.  One afternoon while we were playing on the pier in Quebec City, a gentleman with thick glasses and a guitar case approached me and he said that we should get together once at sea and do some playing.

    Later that afternoon, we met again and picked a time when we could practice that evening.  As a cocky teenager, I thought maybe I could show him something. That evening we went to an upper deck and he started to play scales.  My mouth hung open as I sat there in awe of this wonderful guitarist.  For the next five days we became friends and returned to the upper deck every night where he made me realize I’d have to study if I ever wanted to play anything other than rock.  It was then that I became acquainted with jazz and guitar the way it should be played.  He also graciously agreed to play for an evening in one of the lounges and made me a hero with all the other musicians on board for arranging it.

    It wasn’t until later that I realized the man was Rene Thomas, a Jazz guitar icon from Belgium.  We met a couple of times later, when he was playing in Montreal, and always laughed at our first meeting on board the ship. I will never forget that week - how it changed my entire attitude towards music and what it did for me. Since then, I've worked with a number of wonderful guitarists and every time I do, I think of the nights on the upper deck.

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