DEVELOPING ARTISTS GRANTS
2012 Grant Recipient
Oscar Peterson Grant for Jazz Performance
Sam Dickinson, a 20-year-old guitar player from Toronto, will enter his third year in the Bachelor of Music Jazz Studies degree program at Humber College this autumn. The recipient of numerous music awards, he won the Kendo Award at MusicFest two years ago, and most recently, the Gordon Wragg Award, a legacy distinction honouring Humber’s founding President. He has performed in Ontario and the United States, notably with the Toronto All-Star Band, and has taught for Madoka Murata.
In submitting the nomination for The Hnatyshyn Foundation jazz grant, Denny Christianson, Director of Music, Humber College said of Sam: "He is already playing as well as several of his instructors, so we are taking pains to augment his private lessons with additional instruction from our Advanced Improv teachers, and it is paying off... Sam has become a leader, even among our most elite students, and his quiet demeanor belies the powerful artistic voice which is emerging from within, a voice which will soon become an important one in the fabric which is the Canadian jazz community. "
In adjudicating Mr. Dickinson’s performance submissions, which included one of his own compositions, the jury for jazz performance commented, “Excellent composition skills, influences of Metheny, Eubanks, Rosenwinkel - some vision here, very mature, great chops and musicality. Command of modern vocabulary - intervalic lines, etc. Very impressive. swinging on the straightahead tune. Artist statement is on the money and reflects what is head in the music.”
Members of the jury included:
Richard Gagnon, Trombonist, Composer, Arranger and Producer
Dave Restivo, Pianist, Percussionist, Composer, Educator
Campbell Ryga, Saxophonist, Composer, Educator
When performing as an improvising musician, I always try to be creative, proficient, and expressive. I think it’s very important to take risks, but also to put something forward that I can feel confidant and grounded about. This is the fine line between practicing and playing- I want to be reacting to what’s happening in the moment at a given performance, but it’s impossible to entirely put aside what I’ve been working on at home, and that material can also provide a useful jumping off point for more creative ideas. All this said I attempt to put a great deal of emotion into what I do as an artist, because I believe expression is one of the most important purposes of art.
Similar to what I said about putting aside what you practice when you perform, I also find it important to practice things that are relevant to me as a performer. I believe it saves a lot of time in the long run if I can practically apply what I practice almost instantly. The one exception I find to this is practicing technique, which is something I’ve also been focusing on lately. Though being a technical player can be used as a crutch or made to be distasteful, I find it’s important to be able to play fast in order to creatively contrast slower or more legato ideas.
As an artist I essentially want to express myself in a way that perhaps inspires others or makes them happier. This deals with the fine line between pursuing your goals, and also pleasing an audience. I believe that if I’m pouring my heart into every performance, and making an effort to be creative, then this will come across to a listener as well.
I find my music greatly inspired by life events, as well as by more concrete musical examples. When composing, what I write will be very dependant on my mood, and the same is true of a performance. Outside of non-musical events, I get a great deal of inspiration from musicians I play with, as well as those I’ve studied with. Though I’m mainly a jazz player I also enjoy rock and classical music, and attempt to incorporate these into my jazz playing.