With an eclectic portfolio that includes velvety tenor sax and smooth piano, bluesy classics and experimental electronics, Jamie Mitges is a Canadian jazz jewel. His influences range from Stan Getz to David Sanborn to Pink Floyd, yet Jamie brings a unique emotional depth to his music that reflects a life of hard work, pain and passion.
One of Canada’s great independent jazz players, Jamie has carved out a respected place in jazz through his three CDs and collaborations with the likes of Ed Bickert, Don Thompson, Peter Appleyard, Joe LaBarbera and Brent Bodrug.
As a boy in Guelph, Ontario in the 1960s, Jamie would sit on his grandmother’s knee, mesmerized as her concert pianist’s fingers flew over the keys. At age six, Jamie was playing the piano and steeped in his parents’ classical, blues and jazz albums. Some of his childhood heroes were Louis Armstrong, Glen Miller and Count Basie.
Jamie’s love affair with the saxophone began in his early teens. On a car trip during the summer of 1975, Jamie heard Sanborn on the radio playing James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).” Jamie decided he wanted to play like that.
At 17, Jamie became a student of Juno-award winning Pat LaBarbera, one of the finest saxophone players in the world. (Pat was lead tenor saxophone soloist in Buddy Rich’s band for many years.)
As Jamie’s proficiency grew, his style became increasingly resonant of the old masters like Zoot Sims, Stan Getz and Ben Webster. By 18, Jamie was playing with prominent musicians in local jazz hotspots.
Inspired by Paul Desmond Quartet’s 1975 Live album which featured Canadian jazz giants Ed Bickert and Don Thompson, Jamie recorded Jamie Mitges and the Jazz Legends. The result was a classic old-style jazz album that also featured Bickert (guitar) and Thompson (bass), as well Joe LaBarbera (drums) and Peter Appleyard (vibes).
Jamie went on to express different sides of his musical talent with Density (1997) and Boptronica (2000), both of which were met with enthusiasm by the jazz community.
Although Jamie’s proficiency with both the saxophone and piano allowed him to alternate between the two, in 1995 he was diagnosed with arthritis and fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, Jamie had to give up the sax, but he continues to play piano with passion and verve.
Jamie is currently focused on composing and recording. He lives in Guelph, Ontario with his wife, Annel, and son's, Peter and David.
“Most players today have put the beautiful tone of the instrument in second place, but Jamie has done the opposite. His tone on the horn is exquisite, the best I’ve heard in a long time. It was a great pleasure being on this recording with Ed, Don, Joe and Jamie.”
- Peter Appleyard
“This session was a real pleasure. James has that sound and feel of the tenor sax greats of the 40s.”
- Ed Bickert
“It was a pleasure recording with James; I enjoyed his playing and the songs he picked. It’s nice to hear a young guy pick a style that’s not necessarily the current rage. As for Don, Ed and Peter, they’re the best.”
- Joe LaBarbera
“This is friendly music. I enjoyed playing it. I hope you enjoy listening to it.”
- Don Thompson