Life on pause 

It's no overstatement to say that 2020 has been a year unlike any other.  For most musicians, myself included, this has meant a lifetime of building a career has temporarily ground to a halt with no fault of our own. Some of us were already online and embraced the wave of social media concerts with little financial payoff but loads of exposure, while others of us have been less active either due to difficult instrumentation (no one wants to hear solo sax for 1-2 hours without bass, drums or piano) or a lack of technical prowess with computers.  I haven't done much in the way of public offerings, but what I have done is to really sit down and work on my craft in a way that I haven't had time for since I left university.

Of course, I have been practicing and writing music diligently for years, in fact I often get light-hearted jabs that I practice too much. For me the one silver lining to this dark Covid cloud that has put the music industry and my career in jeopardy has been the time to work with only my playing goals in mind for the first time. For the only time in my career, I don't have appointments, projects and deadlines to meet, so I can study in depth all the great musicians that have inspired me over the years.  The decision to look back and further my understanding of all the legends that came before me was inspired by a friend and teacher in Calgary and I am very glad that he pointed out a few things that are (hopefully were) missing in my playing, that I hear in those that I admire. I can't say enough how much I am glad that he pointed it out, because by looking back I feel I have taken steps forward too. 

The study of all these great musicians has kept me whole over these past difficult months and I have found my writing to be influenced once more by the legends whose shoulders I stand on.  In fact, if a few things go well, I hope to record an album that is inspired by this time spent revisiting the masters that inspired me to make a career as a jazz musician.  I have already raised some funds towards the album expenses and applied for grant support as well. If any of you reading this are interested in being a financial sponsor and a patron of the arts in this strange time of need, please drop me a line.  I've been brainstorming a way to let many people into the process of recording, including maybe streaming one day or afternoon of the session so sponsors can be a witness to the recording, while still being in the comfort and safety of their home. I am always open to other suggestions, if you have any email me at

One final thought for today.  I will be starting a weekly session teaching standards to anyone who would like to take part Saturdays at 10am (Calgary time).  This will be a drop in style class, so there is no need to commit to every Saturday class.  The price is $15/person for each session. I will be covering many topics for each standard including, chord and scale studies to help familiarize yourself with the essential elements of the song, learning vocabulary taken from transcriptions of legends and implementing them, voice leading, "virtual trading trading 4's", rhythmic and thematic development and more.  For students that aren't very confident this is an ideal place to take a chance, because Zoom classes mean your microphone will be muted, so no one will witness your genius or your shortcomings, as you explore some new concepts. I'll also spend a bit of time after each class doing a question and answers to clear up any additional questions you may have.  If enough students are interested, I am also willing to put together a "jam video" so those that volunteer to submit a recording can hear the others in the class as well as trade solos with me.   It's recommended that participants know most of your major scales.  Other than that, I will provide more information on modes and chords as we encounter them.  I will be sending out PDFs of the materials on Friday evening, so enrolment needs to be by Friday at 5pm. I would do a later cut off time, but I will be providing all the information in all the transpositions needed by anyone that signs up. If you play a Bb or Eb instrument, it's safe to enroll as late as 10pm the Friday before, otherwise the 5pm time will stand. Please let me know what instrument you play so that I can send the correct materials on Friday evening or Saturday morning before the session.  I will also be sending out a few practice tracks that will go with each class, to help you practice.  To sign up email me at I will be posting a payment link soon as well, so check back soon for an update to this post.  Quick note, the class on Saturday October 17 will be at 1pm due to a scheduling conflict.

If you are interested but unable to attend, I am working out the logistics to offering a 2-3 week access to each standard. I will not be filming the class, but I will be recording the content separately on the Sunday following the class with the video being available as fast as I can get it edited.


Keith O'Rourke is a born and raised Albertan. Growing up in Calgary, Keith developed a love for music fostered by many gifted teachers. Since returning to Calgary in 2008, Keith is now a recognizable figure in the jazz community and he adds his own unique voice to many projects. He is currently leading his own quartet (the Keith O’Rourke Quartet), coleading Baritone Madness with Pat Belliveau and Gareth Bane, as well as co-leading a quintet with fellow Calgarian, Andre Wickenheiser in the Past Present Quintet. He has been involved with numerous projects and played in concerts with nearly every major jazz artist in Calgary. 

Aside from his performances Keith also maintains an active schedule teaching private students and small group workshops. He enjoys passing on his knowledge and fostering a love of music to the next generation of players.

Please stop by and say hello at a live concert or contact me here if you are looking for saxophone for any occasion or music lessons. 

August 2022


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