OLG First Plays - Greg Runions

Track: Bitter Tart
Learn more: gregrunions.net

About the track
"Bitter Tart is a track from our most recent big band release. The tune is an older work that I composed and arranged in the early 90’s. The first performance was in 1998 with a 14 piece ensemble that featured Canadian trumpet player Kenny Wheeler. The current recording features the same rhythm section from the premier as well as Andrew Rathbun on tenor sax and Willam Carn on trombone, also from the first performance. The rest of the ensemble is made up of horn players who have be frequent collaborators in my big band projects.

The composition and arrangement feature many of the things I enjoy in large ensemble music. This includes a strong melodic statement, ensemble writing that features an emphasis on thematic development and counterpoint. Last, but not least, the track features Brian Dickinson on piano and John MacLeod on flugelhorn, two of my favourite musicians, whom I have been fortunate to collaborate with frequently over the past 30 years. I picked this tune because it is a recent snapshot of the band that illustrates some of the group's best playing."

About the artist
Greg Runions is a composer, arranger and percussionist residing in Kingston, Ontario. His original works for big band, small groups, orchestra, and percussion ensemble have been performed by the Greg Runions Big Band and the Greg Runions Septet, the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, and by ensembles at colleges and high schools in Canada, the U.S., Italy and the Netherlands. His work was featured at the first Jazz Composers Symposium in Tampa, Florida in 2006 and at the ArtEz Composition Contest in Enschede, Netherlands in 2013, Scrivere in Jazz in Sardinia in 2018 and the Barga Jazz Festival in 2021. A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, and the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY, Greg performs primarily as a vibraphonist and devotes most of his creative output towards composing and arranging. As an educator, he works at The Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University where he teaches percussion and directs the Jazz Ensemble.

Greg's ensembles have recorded two independent septet discs, But Not Forgotten (1993) and Something Old, Something New (2018), and two discs of his original music for big band, Sweet Home Suite (2002) and Suite Vincent (2019) . The big band has featured several outstanding Canadian jazz artists in performance, including David Braid, Brian Dickinson, Tim Hagans, John MacLeod, Mike Murley, Quinsin Nachof, Andrew Rathbun, Joe Sullivan, Don Thompson and Ken Wheeler.


The OLG First Plays at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival seeks to showcase music by Ontario-based artists, regardless of age or career stage, who have not previously performed as a leader on an official TD Toronto Jazz Festival stage. Whether you're playing jazz, blues, funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop or more, we want to hear what's making you proud! For more information and the online submission form, click here.