Vic Vogel

Emerging during the 1960s as a musician of considerable influence, bluster, and colour, Vogel has moved freely between jazz, pop and, occasionally, symphonic assignments.

Vogel, Vic

 Vic Vogel (Victor Stefan). Pianist, conductor, composer, arranger, trombonist, b Montreal, of Hungarian parents, 3 Aug 1935. He studied piano as a child and later, 1954-5, piano, theory and analysis with Michel Hirvy. References to his studies in New York with Lennie Tristano are apocryphal. Vogel is largely self-taught on trombone, tuba and vibraphone, and as an arranger. After working in the late 1950s in the show, dance, or big bands of Hugh Sealey, George Sealey, Boogie (Paul) Gaudet (b 21 Aug 1928, d 24 Sep 2004), Steve Garrick, and others, he led his first group ca 1960 at the Chez Paree. He toured in Quebec as the pianist for The Double Six of Paris in 1961 and subsequently played piano, trombone, and tuba in the Lee Gagnon tentet of the early 1960s. In 1966 he led a group of Montreal jazz musicians on a CBC-sponsored tour of Europe.

Emerging during the 1960s as a musician of considerable influence, bluster, and colour, Vogel has moved freely between jazz, pop and, occasionally, symphonic assignments. For CBC TV, he has been music director or accompanist for many variety shows - eg, 'Music Hall,' 'Les Couche-tard,' and 'Vedettes en direct'. On CBC radio, he has been heard with his own groups on such series as 'Jazz en liberté,' 'Jazz Canadiana,' 'Jazz sur le vif,' and 'Jazz Beat'.

One such group, the Vic Vogel Big Band, was formed in 1968, taking its general style from the Duke Ellington Orchestra and its brash temperament from Vogel himself. It made a broadcast recording for the CBC (LM-117, which included Vogel's Booze is Beautiful) in 1972 but generally had an interrupted history until 1978, when it appeared regularly at the El Casino. In 1979 the band toured in Quebec and recorded with Offenbach; the resulting LP, Offenbach En Fusion, received a Félix Award as rock album of the year in 1980. The Vogel band toured in France in 1982 and has performed in other Quebec centres and at the 1985 Ottawa International Jazz Festival. It has been heard regularly at the FIJM, both on its own and with noted US guests - eg, with Zoot Sims and Phil Woods in 1984, Mel Tormé in 1985, and Dizzy Gillespie in 1986. A sextet drawn from the big band has toured in Quebec and in 1989 performed at the du Maurier Downtown Jazz festival in Toronto.

The big band's first album, Vic Vogel Big Band (Spectra Scène SS-1706), recorded at the 1982 FIJM, was repackaged as Vic Vogel and the Awesome Big Band by the (US) Pinnacle label in 1987, and subsequently received extensive radio play in the USA. A second album, Le Big Band (Audiogram AD-10045, CD and cass), issued in 1990, comprised performances from the 1984 FIJM (uncredited) and a 1988 studio session. A third album, [sic] Big Band (Grudge 4524, CD and cass), was released in the USA in 1990 with performances featuring Sims and Woods from the 1984 FIJM. Among Vogel's own soloists on these recordings are the saxophonists Remi Bolduc (alto), Yannick Rieu (tenor), Simon Stone (soprano), Janis Stephrans (alto), Dave Turner (alto), and Jean Frechette (baritone), the trumpeter Ron DiLauro, and the trombonists Michel Ouellet (b 11 Mar 1956, d 27 Jan 2002) and David Grott. The band's repertoire on record comprises his own compositions Blues No. 2, Vanessa, Ballad for Duke, Sym's Tune, Bertie's Lament, Free Trade Blues, and Marion, as well as his arrangments of pop and bebop standards. Vogel arrangements also have been recorded by Vernon Isaac's big band.

Vogel has written or arranged (and usually conducted) music for ceremonies at Man and His World in 1968, the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and the Canada Games in 1985, and for the half-time events at the Grey Cup in 1981 and 1985. For the Olympics he arranged welcoming and theme songs from excerpts of works by André Mathieu; the music has been recorded by the Petits chanteurs du Mont-Royal.

Vogel's other works include several musical comedies for the Théâtre des Variétés (eg, La Course au mariage, recorded in 1973 for Trans Canada, TSF-1457), themes for CBC and CTV news programs, and scores for film (eg, for Capricorn Challenge in 1976 and Kings of Ungava in 1981, and for NFB productions). He has arranged music for jazz soloist and symphony (or string) orchestra - specifically, for the US trumpeter Woody Shaw with the Québec SO in 1978, for Nelson Symonds in a CBC radio broadcast in 1985, and for Oliver Jones with the Halifax Symphony Orchestra in 1988 (and subsequently with other orchestras, including the MSO in 1989 at the FIJM).

Further Reading

  • Quig, James. 'Vic Vogel gets into the swing of things,' Montreal Gazette, 18 Aug 1984

    Chenard, Marc. 'Vic Vogel - things to come,' Coda, 216, Oct-Nov 1987

    Laurier, Andrée. 'Vic Vogel : un nom incomplet sans let mots Big Band,' Paroles & Musique, II (juin 1995).

    Boogie, Pete & The Senator

    Gilmore, John. Who's Who of Jazz in Montreal: Ragtime to 1970 (Montreal 1989)