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Ian Bargh, Toronto pianist RIP

Ted O'Reilly

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My very good friend, and fine jazz pianist Ian Bargh died on Monday, of lung cancer. He had a short hospital stay following Christmas, and had been performing as recently as mid-November. He was just short of his 76th birthday. Ian, who had a charmingly cranky personality, often "complained" that he had to share his birthdate with Elvis Presley...

Here's some background from an online bio:

IAN MARTIN BARGH (pianist) was born on January 8, 1935 in Prestwick, Scotland. By the age of 17, he was playing classical piano and working with jazz groups and dance bands all over the Midlands, England and Scotland until 1957.

It was then he emigrated to Toronto where he has been a vital part of the jazz genre ever since.

He quickly became a familiar figure on stage and playing in jazz clubs all over the city, frequently at the famous George’s Spaghetti House. He began backing jazz greats who visited Toronto throughout the ’60s and ‘70s: Buddy Tate, Buck Clayton, Bobby Hackett, Vic Dickenson, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vincent, Ernestine Anderson, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Edmund Hall, Doc Cheatam, Tyree Glenn, and others.

In the early ‘80s, Bargh began an eight-year run as the resident pianist for Jim Galloway’s Saturday afternoon “Toronto Alive!” sessions at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre, a gig which was broadcast live on radio, and showcased a non-stop parade of jazz greats who were usually appearing at jazz clubs in town that week. The list was long, including Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Lee Konitz, Peter Appleyard, Frank Wright, Scott Hamilton, Rob McConnell, Guido Basso, Ed Bickert, Dizzy Reese, and Warren Vache.

The 1980s also saw Ian Bargh appearing in jazz festivals across Canada and around the world – Ottawa, Victoria, Toronto, Bern (Switzerland), Budapest (Hungary), and Edinburgh (Scotland) – and in concert appearances with Jazz Canada, an all-star group led by Jim Galloway, and featuring some of Canada’s leading jazz artists. It was late that decade, too, when he began a 15-year stint with the annual Toronto Downtown Jazz festival leading the rhythm section appearing in the Festival’s ‘host’ hotel supporting outstanding guest artists including Plas Johnson, Spanky Davis, Harold Ashby, both Allan and Warren Vache, Fraser McPherson, Joe Temperley, Randy Sanke, Jake Hanna, and George Masso.

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