Alternate Takes playing Watermelon Man. Moe Wozniak playing trumpet, top left.

At a time when half the world seems to be on fire, and the other half dealing with floods, while the entire planet suffers through a pandemic, the need for some light in a dark world becomes essential. And that is where music can shine through. In spite of the lack of live music for the past year and a half, musicians have been finding creative ways to continue inspiring us. We’ve had Live at the Library, and greats like James Taylor and Paul Simon have posted songs on-line to get us through. But really amazing creativity has been shown in using socially-distanced performances, posted on YouTube, and displaying the talent and musicianship that’s available to us.

Local musician, Moe Wozniak is part of an alt-jazz ensemble called Alternate Takes, a 10-piece combo that takes its name, and spirit from albums of that name by John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. The band have been playing together since 2003 and have played at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival fourteen times since then, as well as at other important venues.

In the first months of this year, the group recorded what they call “a bluesy funky rendition” of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man”. In an imaginative use of technology, the members were supplied with a basic rhythm track, and each recorded three run throughs of the tune on their cell phones, each one filmed from a different angle. Then the various video files were put together, audio and video, to produce a seamless video of sublime playing.

Moe plays trombone, and is joined by fellow musicians Craig Kennedy (Guitar); Bruce Baker (Baritone Sax); Shinya Sato (Piano); Paul Soble (Bass); René Fortier (Percussion); Bill Brown (Drums); Bob Johnson (Tenor Sax); Jean Trudel (Trumpet and Flugelhorn); and Peter Gemmell (Alto Sax).

Jean Trudel handled the video post-production, and Peter Gemmell managed the audio. It is a great performance and a great technical achievement. It also looks like they had a lot of fun playing. The track can be seen and heard on YouTube at:–DMo-nEwQ. More videos and information at their website:

In these days, music is a balm, a joy, a way through the darkness. Our thanks to Alertnate Takes and all the musicians who play for us. And a special thanks to Moe Wozniak, local musician and friend. Thank you for the music.


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