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Canadian bass player Doug Willsonby Len Dobbin
Copyright © 2002 Len Dobbin
James Hale has forwarded this excerpt from a note from Len Dobbin, a broadcaster in Montreal, regarding bass player Doug Willson:
I awoke this morning to an email from Doug Willsons wife, Pam. On Thursday, March 14th, Doug had a massive heart attack at his home in Niagara Falls and died instantly. As a bassist Willson was active in the Montreal area in the 1960s. Cisco Normand remembers working in a group with Willson, Stan Patrick and Bill Barwick in Three Rivers.
In 1967 he recorded a 45 rpm single, his salute to Canadas 100th birthday. On Bobby Gimbys Canada he was joined Henry Cuesta, Hagood Hardy and Don Vickery, while on his own beautiful Canadian Theme, Freddie Stone, Hardy and Vickery were on hand to back the voice of Tommy Ambrose. The label was Capitol.
Willsons discography is unfortunately small and hard to find. In 1964, on June 15th, he recorded Jimmy Namaros We Three and Blues For Fives, with vibraphonist Namaros trio with Gord Carley on drums. The label was CTL [Canadian Talent Library]. With strings added [arranged by people like Frank Fusco and Namaro] they also did The Moon Is Low, Lets Fall In Love and The Man I Love.
In 1965 he, along with Rob McConnell, Eugene Amaro, cellist Ron Laurie, Ed Bickert and drummer Stan Perry, was heard on the soundtrack of a 90 minute B&W white film, Winter Kept Us Warm. The film, with a title inspired by a T. S. Eliot poem, was a production by university students, written, directed and produced by David Sector.
That year, on November 25th in Toronto, Willson was involved in another CTL session, probably the most important recording of his career. The leader was saxophonist Pat Riccio and Doug was joined in the rhythm section by pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Ed Thigpen [the group also worked at the Colonial Tavern].
Ten tracks were released under Riccios name: they were Take The A Train, Sophisticated Lady, Stompin at the Savoy, Whats New, Undecided, Misty, When Youre Smiling, Out Of Nowhere, Just One of Those Things and Im Confessin That I Love You.
On November 3 of last year I got to hang out with Thigpen at the Montreal Drum Fest, and he was happy to have news of a musical friend that he had lost all track of, and asked me to send his best to Doug. While living in Toronto, Doug also worked with Jim Galloways Metro Stompers and possibly recorded with that band in 1969.
Len Dobbin is a broadcaster in Montreal.