May 2008

Straight to Plan B
OneUpOneDown Straight to Plan B CD release
May 7, 2008 The Rex Toronto
Report by Darlene Stimson with photos by Mike Colyer
I must confess that as an aspiring jazz singer my priority has been looking for material to add to my own repertoire so in the brief time that I've been listening to jazz, Straight to Plan B is the first instrumental CD I've checked out. I really enjoyed it, and the boys' live performance was even better. They interacted well with the audience, their playing was flawless, and they all appeared to be having a great time. The Rex was packed with local musicians enjoying a night off (I recognized George Koller, Ross McIntyre and Holly Clark) in addition to a healthy crowd of jazz fans.
Cameron Wallis and Paul Shrofel are young men from Winnipeg who migrated to Montreal to attend McGill University. They have been friends and musical collaborators for more than a decade. I do know a little about piano players (thanks to my father) so I was very impressed with Shrofel's skills at the keys. In addition to his skills on saxophone, Wallis has an interesting sense of humour. When I approached him at the Rex to tentatively inquire if he was part of OneUpOneDown he replied “I'm OneUp”.

When asked how they had come up with the name, Wallis explained that they were looking for something to denote being a duo. Also there is a John Coltrane song called “One Down One Up” so they just played with that name. (On this their second CD they are joined by Kieran Overs on bass and John Fraboni on drums.)

Wallis and I also discussed the comparative merits of Montreal versus Toronto. He indicated that since Montreal is a much smaller city there are few jazz venues, however it's easier for musicians to make a living from their art as the cost of living is much lower there.

Cameron Wallis
I exchanged emails with Shrofel afterwards.

Darlene Stimson How does Straight to Plan B differs from your first CD?

Paul Shrofel Straight to Plan B differs from the first CD in many ways. The first one, Preface, is a duo record. Its tone is quite sombre. Also, the album is meant to be listened to in one sitting. All the music is related. Like a suite. The second record has of course, a quartet playing, which, by nature makes it more energetic and 'big'. There are many different styles that we cover on Straight to Plan B. The unity in this album, is really that the material is all composed and/or arranged by Cam, and myself.

DS I understand that you work with John Fraboni and Kieran Overs to back up Sophie Milman. What other musical irons do you have in the fire?

PS I am part of another quartet called the Samuel Blais Quartet. We play around in Montreal and New York occasionally. I also co-write and arrange music with my girlfriend who is a singer named Sharada Banman. We are going to be recording her CD (in duo format) later this month. I also freelance, and do session work whenever I can. I enjoy scoring for TV and film as well.

DS Do you have a favourite jazz city from all your touring? Or a favourite local venue?

PS My favourite venue has got to be the Tokyo Blue Note. We've had such an incredible reception there. The whole experience of playing in Japan has made my all time favourite list.

DS What do you want people to know about OneUpOneDown in general, Straight to Plan B in particular?

PS I would first of all like to thank all the people that come out to support us in a live setting. It is very much a blessing, and very gratifying to an artist when people show their appreciation for the music. It's not just about selling records. It's about the 'reason' people decide to get one. Hopefully we've touched them on some level. That's really why we do this.

Paul Shrofel
We welcome your comments and feedback
Darlene Stimson
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Mike Colyer
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The Live Music Report

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