Life, All that Jazz and More

  • by Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FAGD, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA
  • Jan 24, 2019, 10:50 AM

I grew up in Toronto in a family with a strong musical tradition. I was named after a world-renowned concert violinist, Louis Rotenberg. My mother’s oldest brother was Percy Faith, one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century who produced over 60 albums, garnering Oscar nominations and winning Grammys. Naturally, I took piano lessons, and the public schools I attended had great music programs where I learned how to play the clarinet and saxophone (alto and soprano).

With that background, along with 11 older siblings whose musical tastes ran the gamut from classical to pop, folk, blues, rock, jazz and more, my taste in music is eclectic to this day. My music is always on shuffle because I cannot decide what to listen to, and I enjoy the surprise of not knowing what will come up next.

But the most formative musical years were in high school in Toronto. Ontario Place, a grand waterfront park that was built to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967, contained the Forum, a performance stage in the round. The circular stage would rotate so that wherever you sat, the performers would spend part of their concert facing you directly. Saturday nights were the big nights, with various musicians coming to perform for free from May to September.

Singer-songwriter Dan Hill always started off the season at Ontario Place, and I loved his music back then (I still do), but it was the jazz concerts that had me enthralled. I don’t know how they did it, but all the greats came to Toronto to perform at the Forum — Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Maynard Ferguson, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, Chuck Mangione and so many more. Even Frank Sinatra performed once. It was magic. My friends and I would come early, about 4 p.m., get front-row seats and stay there until the concerts started, typically at 8 p.m. We would take turns getting food and taking bathroom breaks but otherwise hung out together for musical genius to be presented in front of us.

In my university years, I gave up playing music (the reason why is a long story), but my connection to music did not stop. I became a radio DJ for the next four years while I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto. It was during those years when I was exposed to a huge cross-section of music I had never heard before and that journey has never stopped. But classical music and jazz seem to be the foundation I keep returning to.

Fast forward to the last few years, when my wife and I were enjoying the Oak Room lounge bar and restaurant at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary one Friday night. The warm, old-world décor place features up-and-coming local musical talent, usually jazz artists, and on this particular evening was a young lady named Ellen Doty. She sang some jazz standards with her own unique spin accompanied by a keyboardist and bass player. It was magic hearing her, and we told her so when she finished.

My wife and I followed Doty’s career and regularly used our social media to spread the word, and hundreds and thousands of people heard about her through our efforts. She recently released her second recording (she had a successful Indiegogo campaign which we helped support) that launched in Calgary before a cross-Canada tour, which we were delighted to attend as well.

Why am I telling you this now? In return for our support of this musician using the power of social media to promote her passions, Doty acknowledged my wife and I on social media. As a result, a number of musicians and fans of hers have become patients in my practice, people who share the same passion for jazz as me. Although our support for Doty was borne out of our shared love and passion for music, we also found that we gained support for my practice, and the practice of dentistry which I pursue with passion and joy as well.

What do you enjoy passionately outside of work? How can you target someone who shares that passion and support them? I think you will find the saying that if you help people get more of what they want or need, you will get more of what you want in return, is indeed true.

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