Toronto musicians perform at Festival Japan in Ottawa on Sunday night.

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Unlike most girls, Virginia MacDonald attended many jazz performances in “dark and foggy clubs” when she was younger. His reaction to the music? “This is so cool!” said MacDonald, now 24.

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Of course, his appreciation of music was reinforced by the fact that his father Kirk, one of Canada’s greatest tenor saxophonists, was on stage. “I saw the joy that music brought to my father, and the countless other jazz musicians were present in my young life,” says Virginia.

She followed in her Juno Prize winning father’s footsteps. Virginia learned the clarinet at the age of six or seven, studied music seriously in high school, and is in her final year at Humber College in Toronto, where her father teaches.

These days father and daughter record and perform together. The MacDonalds are on the front line of a quintet playing Festival Japan in downtown Ottawa on Sunday night. The big-generation group also includes jazz veterans Brian Dickinson on piano and Montreal drummer Andre White, who has a long history with Kirk, as well as young bassist Marshal Herridge.

Virginia is on Kirk’s new record, Generations, a music collection packed with ballads from the Great American Songbook and jazz composers.

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“This is music that I grew up listening to and playing for many years,” says Kirk, whose previous albums have focused on his original compositions.

The new album “represents a more tangible return to my musical roots,” he says. “This format presents significant challenges, because you have to really relate to the music on a melodic level and get into the songs.”

The album was recorded like real improvised jazz, as Kirk and his band, which includes veteran American pianist Harold Mabern, just wrapped up their tour.

“I wanted to capture a spontaneous feeling on this CD, so there was no repetition,” says Kirk. “A lot of the pieces were first performed together in the studio.”

He says Virginia went for it on day one of recording and wasn’t intimidated by the seasoned musicians in the session. “It was great to see her interacting with four older statesmen in such a professional and confident manner,” he says.

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“As a parent, of course, I’m extremely proud of her,” Kirk says. “Virginia has a deep organic feel for music and has a mature melodic approach that belies her years.” He describes his daughter’s abilities on the clarinet as “deceptive.”

“She’s low-key and approaches music with a great sense of spontaneity and a music-oriented attitude,” says Kirk.

Virginia says it’s only natural to make music with your father.

“It’s one thing to play with someone you have a musical connection with,” she says. “But when there is also a deep emotional connection and understanding between the musicians, I think it only serves to uplift the music. Playing with someone as dedicated and inspired as my father pushes me musically and me. also reminds how grateful I am to have it.

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Virginia says that except for a few “fleeting moments of doubt,” she knew she would always be a jazz musician.

Kirk understands that many parents would be concerned about the financial instability that comes with being a professional independent musician. But he puts those concerns aside and emphasizes the benefits of living jazz.

“Having been heavily involved in education for three decades, I see a wonderfully supportive and inclusive community of young musicians making their way around the world,” Kirk said. “Although the landscape has changed in many ways since I arrived, there are still many exciting opportunities for talented musicians.

“It is important for someone to follow their passion in life and to realize and appreciate the gifts that a creative pursuit and a lifestyle can offer,” said Kirk.

“When you get up at the booth on a good night, the band locks themselves in and the audience is in the music, there’s really nothing better,” says Virginia.

Kirk MacDonald with Virginia MacDonald
Release of the Generations CD
When: Sunday November 25, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Or: Japan Festival, 149 Kent St.
Tickets: $ 30 ($ 20 for students) in advance via eventbrite.ca or by calling 613-220-3819, an additional $ 5 will be charged at the door

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