By Michael Butterfield
The Cookers will be coming to Williams Lake to play two concerts, Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 at the Studio Theatre at Glendale School.
This is a very exciting event, considering how often a first-rate jazz quintet performs in our town.
The reason why this group is coming here is because this is the home town of the tenor saxophonist/leader of The Cookers.
He grew up on 12th Avenue, went to Columneetza Secondary School, and his name is Ryan Oliver.
One day, many years ago, his mom called a saxophone teacher to enquire about tenor saxophone lessons, and this is how the story went.
The teacher asked her what kind of music Ryan likes to listen to. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat,” and translate that to musician’s terms, “You are what you listen to.”
Now just consider for a moment that Ryan was only 15 years old at the time, and that all of this occurred over 20 years ago.
Also keep in the back of your mind “What do kids listen to?”
His mom said to the teacher, “Just a minute and I’ll ask him,” and she quickly replied, “He likes jazz.”
So then the teacher asked: “Who does he listen to?”
And she said to the teacher, “Just a minute and I’ll ask him.” She quickly replied that he listens to John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, just to name a few of his idols.
Now if you were a young hockey player and were asked who your favorite player was, you probably would have lots of answers to that question, but when a kid is asked who his favorite jazz musician is, one doesn’t really expect a hard answer.
It surprised the teacher. This kid was genuine!
Now, 20 years later, if you were to shut your eyes and just listen to Ryan Oliver play, he would conjure up visions of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Branford Marsalis and other great tenor players, but all in a unique voice named Ryan.
Ryan is among the very best jazz tenor saxophonists in Canada and he has made many recordings. He plays regularly with the Derek Miller Band, the Shuffle Demons, as well as The Cookers.
The Cookers also have Tim Hamel on trumpet, Richard Whiteman on piano, Alex Coleman on bass, and Joel Haynes on drums.
Each player’s musicianship is top-shelf and they all have massively great resumes of people with whom they have played and recorded.
Their CD called, The Cookers Vol. I was featured on Katie Malloch’s final radio episode of Jazz Beat on CBC, and Katie said that it was one of her favorite albums of the year. Ryan also has a new recording soon to come out called Strive, featuring the legendary Victor Lewis on drums.
If you are not familiar with The Cookers, check them out. They are very good! Tickets are on sale at The Guitar Seller, and at the Open Book.
Michael Butterfield is a music teacher in Williams Lake and Ryan’s mentor when he was studying music in Williams Lake.