William Carn's new band, Run Stop Run and his latest album of the same title could also be titled simply "run." Carn's recent work and collaborations, as well as his work as a professor of music, provide tremendous insight into Carn's work ethic. Now,by adding touring to his busy schedule, Carn is truly a man in motion.
Like many artists, Carn seems to enjoy himself most when he is at his busiest. Taking a moment out of his tour schedule to talk with me, Carn is relaxed and enjoying the moments that being a musician affords him.
Carn reflects on what makes his ability to balance so many projects successful and how that knowledge can help young musicians. Carn chuckles, "Time management is always the hard part; especially when you are freshly out of school, because most likely you are not going to be making much money as a musician. I had a part-time job which afforded me the opportunity to work on my music. Self motivation is important too because at the end of the day, when you are finished at your job, you still want to play, want to practice, want to write music so staying focused and motivated is important."
Carn has worked with some tremendously talented musicians across the music spectrum, but is still incredibly grounded about playing with such diverse and talented people as Jeff Healey, Feist, Jon Secada, David Binney, and Dionne Taylor. What makes Carn such a unique artist is his love of giving back. He does that as a professor at the University of Toronto Jazz Studies Program and the Humber College Music program. Yet even Carn, with a laundry list of talent with whom he has performed, still retains a wish list of artists that he would like to collaborate with in the future. "I'm not sure he would want to work with me because I don't know if what I do fits with his work, but I would love to play with Pat Metheny and his group," Carn marvels.
Carn looks off reflectively when asked about his work as a professor. "I've had some very inspirational teachers. I still look up to my teachers. In fact, I remember my grade 8 band teacher took out all the musical instruments and laid them out on the floor; which is kind of disgusting now that I look back on it. All the kids went around and tried them all. He told us to write down our top three choices. My top choice was French horn because I loved the sound. I tried a few instruments and I couldn't get a sound out of any of them. So, now I start to panic because I don't want to fail music. So, I pick up the trombone and this big sound came out so I said 'OK, there we go."
One of his fondest memories playing the trombone occurred less than a decade later when he was 19 years old playing in the mammoth pit orchestra for the performance of Les Misérables at the Toronto Sky Dome, home of the Toronto Blue Jays (it is now called the Rogers Center). During that performance, with over 150 musicians by his side, Carn performed for over 50,000 people. "They opened up the Sky Dome and it was a moment that reaffirmed for me in my mind that I was going to play music for the rest of my life. It was one of those larger than life moments," said Carn.
Music helped him stay focused during that surreal moment. "It was overwhelming. Whenever you took your eyes off the music and looked up, it was just insane. The stars were out, 50,000 people were watching you. I just kept telling myself to focus on the music, focus on what's in front of me.
Working as a professor has an additional added benefit when it comes to performing and recording. "Teaching allows for the opportunity to reflect because you get to problem solve with your students and they ask questions about stuff I generally don't think about very often. So it gives me the opportunity to pause and reflect on what I do with my music," confirmed Carn.
It seems to be working well for Carn. Several reviews are in on the album and the reviews are generally glowing. Esther Callens of the Birmingham Times said "Run Stop Run offers a fresh innovative look at modern jazz and it is remarkable." Jazz Blogger, Ralph A. Miriello placed Carn's album on his top ten lists for 2011.
But Carn keeps running. He's just wound down a three month tour and two dates in March have already indicated the start of the next leg of being on the road. Much like that eighth grade moment, bringing the trombone to life in his hands, Carn has stayed in perpetual motion, evolving his music and defining the trombone in modern jazz. Carn's latest work suggests much more is on the horizon.