Transcript: Jack Grunsky | Dec 28, 1997

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue. With Jack Grunsky; Entertainer.”

Richard Ouzounian and Greg sit in a television studio, by a small round table with two glasses of water.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a purple coat, beige trousers, and a striped blue shirt.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
MY NEXT GUEST HAS AN
AMAZING VIEW OF THE WORLD.
ON HIS LATEST ALBUM, THERE'S A
SONG THAT SAYS, LIVE IN YOUR
IMAGINATION, LIVE
IN YOUR DREAMS.
LIVE IN YOUR IMAGINATION
FOR LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE
THAN IT SEEMS.
AND HE'S PROVEN IT
BY HIS OWN LIFE.
ENTERTAINER, ARTIST, MUSICIAN,
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS WITH
JACK GRUNSKY.

Jack is in his forties, clean-shaven, with short wavy gray hair. He’s wearing a dark gray shirt. He’s sitting on a padded chair surrounded by several musical instruments, including a drum, an acoustic guitar, and a tambourine.

Richard continues JACK, WELCOME.

Jack says THANK YOU.

Richard says YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN SO
INTERESTING, AND SO VARIED.
I GUESS WHAT I'D LIKE TO START
WITH IS THERE'S A LINE IN ONE
OF YOUR OTHER SONGS, WHAT IS
IT, I GREW UP WITH MUSIC FROM
THE FIRST DAY OF MY LIFE?

Jack says YES, YES.

Richard says I IMAGINE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
YOUR FATHER IN THAT CASE.
YOUR DAD, WOLFGANG GRUNSKY,
WAS A CELLIST WITH THE
TORONTO SYMPHONY.
BUT YOU WEREN'T
BORN IN TORONTO.
START OUT, TAKE ME BACK TO
THAT FIRST DAY OF YOUR LIFE.
WHERE DID YOU START OUT?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Jack Grunsky. Entertainer."

Jack says YOU WANT MY LIFE'S HISTORY.
I WAS BORN IN AUSTRIA, AND WE
IMMIGRATED TO CANADA IN '51.

Richard says NOW, WAS IT A
WORK IMMIGRATION?
WHAT WAS IT?

Jack says MY UNCLE LIVED HERE FOR
MANY YEARS AND CONVINCED MY
FATHER TO IMMIGRATE.
IT WAS AFTER THE WAR, AND MY
FATHER, BEING A MUSICIAN, WAS
ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR A CHANGE,
AND HE DECIDED TO COME TO
CANADA, WHERE HIS BROTHER WAS.
AND WE CAME OVER ON THE QUEEN
ELIZABETH I, THE OCEAN LINER.

Richard says THE ORIGINAL.

Jack says YES.
WHICH WAS A VERY FASCINATING
EXPERIENCE, THAT I STILL
REMEMBER VERY WELL.
AND I GREW UP IN
CANADA, IN TORONTO.

Richard says COMING FROM AUSTRIA,
ESPECIALLY POST-WAR AUSTRIA,
AND THEN TO CANADA, AND
YOU WERE FIVE, YOU SAID?

Jack says FIVE AND A HALF.
YES.

Richard says WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

Jack says AT FIRST, I DIDN'T
SPEAK A WORD OF ENGLISH.
IT WAS TRAUMATIC, AND YET
EXCITING AT THE SAME TIME.
I REMEMBER THE FEELING
OF COMING TO THIS NEW
ENVIRONMENT, AND NOT
UNDERSTANDING MY PEERS.
BUT COMING INTO GRADE ONE,
I'VE BEEN TOLD, THAT IT TOOK
ABOUT TWO WEEKS, THAT I COULD
START TO UNDERSTAND SOME
ENGLISH AND THEN SPEAK IT.
IT CAME QUITE FAST.
AND I REMEMBER ONE INCIDENT,
IN THE FIRST FEW DAYS OF
SCHOOL, WHERE IT WAS RECESS
TIME, AND WE ALL WENT OUT INTO
THE PLAYGROUND, AND SOME OF
THE CHILDREN IN MY CLASS
PICKED UP ON THE FACT HERE WAS
AN OUTSIDER WHO DIDN'T SPEAK
THE LANGUAGE, AND THEY PLAYED
A LITTLE GAME, AND THEY
FORMED A CIRCLE AROUND ME.
AND JUST SANG A LITTLE CHANT,
MAYBE RING AROUND THE ROSY,
OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
BUT I RECALL IT WAS SUCH A
FRIGHTENING EXPERIENCE FOR ME,
THAT I BURST OUT OF THE
CIRCLE AND JUST RAN HOME.

Richard says YOU KNOW, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
THIS AS IF IT WAS JUST A
CHILDHOOD DISPLACEMENT THING,
BUT I'M WONDERING, ALSO, NOT
TO GET TOO DARK WITH THIS,
WE'RE TALKING NOT THAT MUCH
AFTER WORLD WAR II.
AND WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A
YOUNG MAN WHO SPOKE AUSTRIAN
OR GERMAN COMING
OVER TO CANADA.
DID YOU EVER FEEL ANY OF THAT
RESENTMENT, OR ANY POST WAR
FEELINGS LAID ON
YOU BY THE PEOPLE?

Jack says NO.
NO, NOT TO ME.
NO, I CAN'T SAY --
I DON'T RECALL.
I GREW UP IN A VERY HAPPY
ENVIRONMENT, ACTUALLY.
VERY NURTURING, AND EXTENDED
FAMILY WAS ALWAYS THERE FOR US.

Richard says AND YOU STARTED
GOING TO THE SYMPHONY.

Jack says WELL, YES.
MY FATHER, IT TOOK HIM A YEAR
BEFORE HE COULD BECOME A
MEMBER OF THE TORONTO
MUSICIANS' ASSOCIATION.
AND IN THAT FIRST YEAR,
HE WORKED FOR SIMPSON'S.
ONCE HE BECAME, HE APPLIED
TO BECOME A CELLIST IN THE
TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA,
AND WAS ADMITTED, THEN HE
BROUGHT ME ALONG, EVERY SUNDAY
WHEN THEY PERFORMED THE
POPS CONCERT.
AND THIS WAS STILL WHEN SIR
ERNEST MCMILLAN WAS CONDUCTING.

Richard says OKAY.

Jack says AND I WOULD SIT THROUGH THE
REHEARSALS IN MASSEY HALL.
THEN WE'D GO OUT TO YONGE
STREET FOR A BITE TO EAT AT
LUNCH, THEN COME BACK,
AND OF COURSE THERE WAS
THE PERFORMANCE.
AND IT WAS GENERAL SEATING,
SO EVERY SUNDAY, I PICKED A
DIFFERENT SPOT IN MASSEY HALL
TO SIT AND VIEW THE ORCHESTRA.
AND IT WAS A VERY FASCINATING
EXPERIENCE FOR ME BECAUSE
JUST, FIRST OF ALL, TO WITNESS
ALL THESE PLAYERS PERFORMING,
AND TO HEAR THIS AMAZING
REPERTOIRE OF MUSIC, I WAS
VERY KEEN ON THE PERCUSSION
SECTION, SO VERY OFTEN, I'D
SIT OVER THE RAILING AT
THE PERCUSSION SECTION.

Richard says YES.
WE'RE SURROUNDED BY
PERCUSSION, HERE, WHICH WE'LL
GET TO A LITTLE LATER.

Jack says BUT WHEN THE ACTUAL
PERFORMANCE BEGAN IN THE
AFTERNOON, AND THE MUSICIANS
ASSEMBLED THEMSELVES ON STAGE
AND WAITED FOR THE CONDUCTOR,
MY DAD WOULD LOOK AROUND IN
THE AUDIENCE TO SEE
WHERE I WAS SITTING.
AND WHEN HE SPOTTED ME,
HE'D GIVE ME A LITTLE WINK
AND A WAVE.
IT WAS A VERY SPECIAL TIME.

Richard says HAD YOU EVER WANTED TO BE
A CONCERT MUSICIAN YOURSELF
BECAUSE OF THAT?

Jack says NO.
I WANTED TO BE A
PERCUSSIONIST.
MY FATHER WANTED ME TO BE
A CELLIST AND TO FOLLOW
IN HIS FOOT STEPS.
AND HE CERTAINLY NURTURED
THE LOVE OF MUSIC IN OUR
HOUSEHOLD BECAUSE WE WERE
MAKING MUSIC ALL THE TIME,
AND MY DAD TAUGHT ME THE
RECORDER, THE CELLO, AND MY
BROTHER, AS WELL.
MY BROTHER TOOK
VIOLIN LESSONS.
SO EVERY SPARE MOMENT WE HAD,
PART OF FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT
WAS MAKING MUSIC.
IN FACT, IN THOSE DAYS, WE
DIDN'T HAVE A TELEVISION SET.
SO MUSIC WAS SOMETHING
THAT WE SHARED.
AND IT WAS A VERY STIMULATING
AND RICH EXPERIENCE.

Richard says WHAT'S INTERESTING,
IT FLIPS AROUND.
WHEN YOU GET TO YOUR
ADOLESCENCE A LITTLE LATER,
THE USUAL SHOW BUSINESS CLICHÉ
IS THE YOUNG MAN WHO SAYS,
'I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T
WANT ME TO GO INTO MUSIC,
I'M GOING INTO MUSIC'.
WELL, IN THIS CASE, WE HAD A
YOUNG MAN WHO SAID, I DON'T
CARE IF YOU WANT ME TO GO INTO
MUSIC, I'M GOING INTO ART,
RIGHT?

Jack says MY FATHER ALSO PAINTED.
AND VERY OFTEN, IN THE
SUMMERTIMES WHEN WE WENT
CAMPING, HE'D BE
OUT THERE PAINTING.
SO I MENTION MY FATHER VERY
OFTEN, NOW, AS I DO IN CONCERT
WHEN I'M PERFORMING BECAUSE HE
WAS SUCH A STRONG INFLUENCE
IN MY CHILDHOOD, AND SO MUCH
OF WHAT I DO DRAWS BACK ON MY
OWN CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES.
AS I SAY, HE WAS A PAINTER,
AND DRAWING AND PAINTING,
ALSO, CAME NATURALLY TO ME.
I WAS VERY FASCINATING IN ART.
AND ACTING, FOR THAT MATTER.
I WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR.
I WANTED TO DO
A LOT OF THINGS.
AND AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, I
WASN'T SURE, SHOULD I PURSUE
STUDIES IN MUSIC OR ART?
AND WITH SOME GUIDANCE, IT WAS
DECIDED THAT I WOULD STUDY
ART AND RETURN TO AUSTRIA.

Richard says NOW, HOW COME YOU
WANTED TO GO BACK?

Jack says PART OF MY FAMILY, MY PARENTS
DIVORCED AND EACH REMARRIED.
THERE WAS A VERY -- IT
WAS AFTER A WHILE, AFTER
EVERYTHING SETTLED, IT WAS A
VERY HARMONIOUS RELATIONSHIP,
AND ALL THE FAMILY
MEMBERS COMMUNICATED.
AND IT WAS DECIDED IT WOULD
BE VERY REWARDING FOR ME TO
EXPERIENCE EUROPE AND TO
RETURN TO MY MOTHER'S SIDE OF
WHERE SHE LIVED.

Richard says RIGHT.

Jack says SO AFTER COMPLETING HIGH
SCHOOL, I RETURNED TO LINZ,
WHERE SHE LIVES.
AND ENROLLED IN
THE ART COLLEGE.
AND STARTED MY
ART STUDIES THERE.
AND THEN CONTINUED ON TO THE
ACADEMY OF ARTS IN VIENNA AND
TOOK A COURSE IN STAGE
DESIGNING AND PAINTING.
AND AT THE SAME TIME,
I WAS MAKING MUSIC.
MUSIC AND ART HAVE ALWAYS GONE
HAND IN HAND IN OUR LIFE.

Richard says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE TO
THIS DAY, YOU STILL PAINT.
YOU PAINT VERY WELL.

As he speaks, pictures of paintings flash by on screen. They depict quiet colonial towns with cobblestone roads and small houses painted in bright colours.

Richard continues WE HAVE SOME EXAMPLES OF IT.
AND WE ALSO HAVE CD COVERS
WHICH YOU'VE DESIGNED.
WHICH, I GUESS, BRINGS MUSIC
AND ART TOGETHER, AS WELL.
SO YOU REALLY HAVE KEPT THAT
LINK GOING IN YOUR LIFE,
THAT MUSIC AND ART ARE
ONE FOR YOU, RIGHT?

A close-up shows two CD cases on a small table. One reads “Schoolyard jam!” and has a drawing of children playing instruments in a schoolyard. The other one reads “Manteca” and the cover features a colourful abstract drawing.

Jack says YES.
I HAVE THIS NEED TO
EXPRESS MYSELF VISUALLY,
AS WELL AS MUSICALLY.
AND I FIND THE TWO ARE
VERY CLOSELY RELATED.
TAPPING THE SAME KIND OF
SOURCE AND, YOU KNOW, CENTRE
OF IMAGINATION,
OR WHAT YOU WILL.

Richard says BUT MUSIC STARTED TO,
OBVIOUSLY, TAKE A LITTLE BIT
OF AN UPPER HAND.
I KNOW YOU FORMED A GROUP AT
ONE POINT, JACK'S ANGELS, RIGHT?

Jack says YES.

Richard says I HAVE VISIONS OF
CHARLIE'S ANGELS.
IT WASN'T THE SAME THING.
IT WASN'T YOU AND THREE --

Jack says IT WAS A TERRIBLE NAME.

Richard says NO.
IT WASN'T THREE BODACIOUS
LADIES BEHIND YOU WHILE
YOU SANG UP FRONT, NO.

Jack says THE NAME JACK'S ANGELS
WAS NOT MY DOING.

Richard says OKAY.

Jack says WHEN I LIVED IN VIENNA, WHEN
I WAS TAKING THE COURSE AT
THE ACADEMY OF ARTS,
I FORMED THIS GROUP.
AND WE PERFORMED OUR
REPERTOIRE OF FOLK SONGS,
NORTH AMERICAN,
BRITISH FOLK SONGS.
AND I HAD ALREADY STARTED TO
WRITE SONGS WITH THE GUITAR.
AND MY FASCINATION WITH THE
NORTH AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC
SCENE, AT THAT TIME, THE KIND
OF MUSIC I WAS LISTENING TO
DURING HIGH SCHOOL, SUCH AS
PETER, PAUL AND MARY, THE
KINGSTON TRIO, BOB DYLAN,
THOSE KIND OF PEOPLE,
THEY WERE MY ROLE MODELS.
SO WITH THIS ENTHUSIASM OF
WANTING TO EMULATE BEING A
SONGWRITER AND SINGER AND
GUITARIST, I SHARED THIS WITH
SOME STUDENT FRIENDS
OF MINE IN VIENNA.
AND WE FORMED THE GROUP AND
PERFORMED IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS
IN THE AREA.
AND A FRIEND OF OURS CONTACTED
A RECORD LABEL, AND THEY WERE
QUITE INTERESTED IN
WHAT WE WERE DOING.
SO THEY CAME TO ONE OF OUR
CONCERTS, AND WITHIN TWO
WEEKS, SIGNED US UP FOR A TWO
YEAR CONTRACT, DURING THE
TIME OF WHICH WE RECORDED
FOUR ALBUMS, AND A NUMBER OF
SINGLES, AND STARTED TO
TOUR QUITE EXTENSIVELY.
I HAVE TO TELL YOU, AT THAT
TIME, IN AUSTRIA AND CENTRAL
EUROPE, THE NORTH AMERICAN
FOLK MUSIC DID NOT YET CATCH ON.
SO WHAT I WAS DOING, IN A
WAY, WAS NEW TO EUROPEANS.
AND THERE WAS A CERTAIN
ENTHUSIASM THAT WE
COMMUNICATED SIMPLY BECAUSE
OF THE JOY THAT WE HAD IN
SINGING TOGETHER IN HARMONY
AND PLAYING TOGETHER.
AND I THINK THIS SPARKED THE
INTEREST AND CAUGHT THE
PEOPLE'S IMAGINATION.

Richard says NOW, WHAT YEARS ARE WE
TALKING HERE, ROUGHLY?

Jack says THIS WAS '66, '67.
AND WE CONNECTED WITH
JOAN BAEZ WHEN SHE CAME.
AND SHE BROUGHT US UP ON
STAGE AFTER HER PERFORMANCE.
SO THERE WAS CONNECTION TO
THE FOLK MUSIC SCENE, WHICH,
IN AUSTRIA, THEY LABELLED
THE GREEN WAVE.

Richard says NOW, AROUND THIS TIME, THERE
WERE CHANGES IN THE FOLK
MUSIC SCENE IN NORTH AMERICA,
AND IT WENT INTO FOLK ROCK.
DYLAN STARTED TO GO ELECTRIC.
PEOPLE LIKE PHIL OAKS CAME
ALONG AND HAD HARDER MESSAGES
AND A HARDER SOUND.
DID YOU GO THAT WAY
AT ALL, YOURSELF?

Jack says OH, YES, I DID.
AFTER THE GROUP JACK'S ANGELS
DISBANDED BECAUSE SOME OF THE
MEMBERS DID NOT WANT TO PURSUE
MUSIC AS A CAREER, AND WE
WERE GETTING SO BUSY TOURING
AND RECORDING THAT IT WAS
JUST TOO MUCH FOR THEM.
SO WE HAD INTERNAL PROBLEMS.
AND THE RECORD LABEL AGREED
TO THE SPLIT OF THE GROUP, AS
LONG AS I WOULD REMAIN WITH
THEM, BEING THE LEADER
AND THE SONGWRITER.
SO AFTERWARDS, I CONTINUED ON
MY OWN AS A SOLO PERFORMER,
AND IT WAS IN THOSE YEARS THAT
I EMPLOYED MANY DIFFERENT --
I WORKED TOGETHER WITH MANY
DIFFERENT MUSICIANS.
AND, YES, THE FOLK ROCK MUSIC
HAD AN INFLUENCE ON MY
WRITING, AS WELL.
SO SOME OF THE SUBSEQUENT
RECORDINGS INCLUDED DRUMS,
PIANO, AND ELECTRIC GUITARS.

Richard says YOU KNOW WHAT I'M CURIOUS
ABOUT, ON YOUR CHILDREN'S
ALBUMS TODAY, YOU WRITE
ALMOST ALL, OR A LOT OF THE
MATERIAL, AND THE SONGWRITING
IS OF A VERY HIGH LEVEL.
THE SONGS ARE REALLY ADULT
SONGS FOR CHILDREN'S MINDS.
AND THE CRAFT IS VERY GOOD.
AND I'M WONDERING, WHAT KIND
OF SONGS YOU WROTE AS A YOUNG
ADULT ENTERTAINER?

Jack says WELL, I HAVE 11 ALBUMS OF
ADULT, ACTUALLY 12 ALBUMS OF
MATERIAL THAT WAS WRITTEN AND
RECORDED PRIOR TO MY SHIFT
IN ATTENTION, IN TERMS
OF MY AUDIENCE.
I'VE ALWAYS -- I DON'T KNOW
HOW TO ANSWER THAT, EXCEPT
THE CRAFT OF SONGWRITING,
TO ME, HAS ALWAYS BEEN
VERY IMPORTANT.
AND I'VE TRIED TO LEARN AS
MUCH AS I COULD AND TO
IMPROVE AND DEVELOP MY
TECHNIQUE WRITING, AS WELL
AS PERFORMING AND SINGING.
THEN, TAKEN UP LESSONS, AS
WELL AS LEARNING FROM OTHER
MUSICIANS, AND JUST TRYING
TO DO THE BEST I CAN.

Richard says I CAN IMAGINE SOMEONE TUNING
IN AND WATCHING THIS,
AND SAYING, OH, I
KNOW JACK GRUNSKY.
I RECOGNIZE HIM FROM CONCERTS
AND FROM TV AND HIS ALBUMS,
BUT WE'RE HAVING THIS
CONVERSATION ABOUT TOURING
AS A SOLO FOLK ROCK
ARTIST IN AUSTRIA.
HELP ME MAKE THE JOURNEY.
HOW DID YOU GET BACK ACROSS
THE ATLANTIC AND BACK INTO
WHAT PEOPLE KNOW YOU FOR NOW?

Jack says IT'S BEEN SUCH A LONG
JOURNEY, THAT I OFTEN
GO OFF ON A TANGENT.
BUT COMING BACK TO CANADA IN
THE MID '70s, I CONVINCED MY
DEAR WIFE, JULIE, TO
MAKE THE TRANSITION.

Richard says SO YOU MARRIED
OVER IN EUROPE.

Jack says YES.
SO IN A SENSE, I WAS
ECHOING THE PAST.
I WAS FOLLOWING IN MY FATHER'S
FOOT STEPS, ONCE AGAIN.
AND WITH OUR FIRST BORN CHILD,
CORINA, WE CAME BACK TO TORONTO.
I KNEW, DURING THE TEN YEARS
THAT I WAS ACTIVE IN EUROPE AS
A MUSICIAN, TRAVELLING AROUND
THE CONTINENT, WE WERE
DESPERATELY TRYING TO
ESTABLISH SOME SORT OF
PRESENCE IN NORTH AMERICA.
THREE OF MY ALBUMS WERE
RELEASED HERE, IN CANADA,
BUT DIDN'T DO VERY WELL.
I WAS NEVER HERE TO
TOUR OR TO PROMOTE.
SO I MADE THE DECISION, AFTER
THINKING ABOUT THIS A LONG
TIME, AND AFTER RETURNING TO
TORONTO ON MANY VISITS, JUST
TO GET A SENSE OF THE MUSIC
SCENE AT THAT TIME, I FELT
CONVINCED THAT IT WOULD BE A
PRODUCTIVE MOVE TO COME BACK
AND TRY TO ESTABLISH MYSELF
AS A SINGER SONGWRITER
IN CANADA.

Richard says WHAT YEAR WAS THAT?

Jack says THAT WAS '74.

Richard says SO YOU CAME BACK AND
GOT INTO EDUCATION?

Jack says THAT WAS A LITTLE LATER.
AT FIRST, I CONNECTED WITH
MUSICIANS, AND PERFORMED IN
VARIOUS FOLK CLUBS, AND THEN
IN SOME FOLK FESTIVALS AND
UNIVERSITY CLUBS, AND SO ON
AND SO FORTH, AND I MET A VERY
DEAR FRIEND, CHAD IRSCHICK,
WHO HELPED ME RECORD MY
VERY FIRST ALBUM HERE,
INDEPENDENTLY.
IT WAS CALLED
THE
PATIENCE OF A SAILOR.
AND IT WAS CHAD WHO ACTUALLY
ASSISTED ME A NUMBER OF YEARS,
NOT ONLY AS A BASS PLAYER,
PRODUCER AND ENGINEER, BUT
ALSO AS AN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR.
AND HE GAVE ME A LOT OF
DIRECTION AND FOCUS AS TO
WHERE I SHOULD BE CHANNELLING
MY ENERGIES, IN TERMS OF
WRITING, PERFORMING.
OUR OLDER DAUGHTER, CORINA,
WHEN SHE WAS IN GRADE THREE,
HER TEACHER, WHO WE MET, AND
BECAME FRIENDS WITH, INVITED
ME INTO THE CLASSROOM
ONE DAY TO SHARE SOME SONGS
WITH THE CHILDREN.
AND I DID.
AND I THOUGHT, THIS WAS FUN.
THIS WAS ENJOYABLE.
A LITTLE LATER ON, I WAS
INVITED TO CONDUCT A LUNCH
TIME RECORDER CLASS AT MY
DAUGHTER'S SCHOOL, WHICH I DID.
AND I HAD A FEW STUDENTS.
AND I FOUND THIS MOST
ENJOYABLE TO TEACH AND TO
PASS ON, YOU KNOW, MUSIC
TO CHILDREN, AND TO WATCH
THEIR EXCITEMENT.

Richard says RIGHT.

Jack says AND THIS LED TO GETTING AN
OPPORTUNITY TO CONDUCT A MUSIC
PROGRAM AT A
MONTESSORI SCHOOL.
THE ISLAND MONTESSORI SCHOOL.
SO THEN I SPENT ONE DAY A WEEK
WORKING WITH THE CHILDREN ON
THE ISLAND, AND
WORD GOT AROUND.
I GATHERED... I GOT
SOME MORE STUDENTS.
I STARTED TO TOUR AROUND
THE ISLAND COMMUNITY.

Richard says SOUNDS LIKE THE PIPED PIPER,
ONLY WITH PERCUSSION INSTEAD
OF THE FLUTE.

Jack says WITH MY RECORDER, AND I BEGAN
TO ATTAIN QUITE A NUMBER OF
STUDENTS, THAT AT ONE TIME,
I GUESS IT WAS AROUND 1979,
OR 1980, I WAS SEEING OVER A
HUNDRED STUDENTS A WEEK.

Richard says WOW.

Jack says AND IT WAS SOMETHING THAT
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED DOING.
FOR ME, IT WAS A GROWING
EXPERIENCE, TO PASS ON ALL OF
MY KNOWLEDGE OF MUSIC-MAKING,
AND PLAYING TO CHILDREN
AND ADULTS.
THEN, I DISCOVERED PROLOGUE TO
THE PERFORMING ARTS, WHO ARE
AN ORGANIZATION THAT BRINGS
THE ARTS INTO THE SCHOOLS.
AND I DON'T EXACTLY REMEMBER
HOW THE CONNECTION CAME ABOUT,
BUT SOMEONE POINTED
THEM OUT TO ME.
AND I DECIDED IT WOULD BE A
GOOD IDEA TO PUT TOGETHER A
PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN,
WITH PARTICIPATORY SONGS
AND TAKE IT
AROUND TO SCHOOLS.
AND I DID THIS FOR
A NUMBER OF YEARS.
AND AT ONE POINT, I INVITED
THE PROLOGUE STAFF TO COME AND
SEE ONE OF MY PERFORMANCES.
AND THEY DID.
AND SINCE THEN, I'VE
BEEN ON THEIR ROSTER.

Richard says RIGHT.
AND YOU'VE BEEN
GOING ON AND ON.
NOW, ONE OF THE TRADEMARKS
YOU HAVE, BESIDE THE FACT YOU
REACT WITH THE CHILDREN IN A
VERY POSITIVE AND EMPATHETIC
WAY, THAT YOU TALK WITH THEM,
NOT AT THEM, PEOPLE TALK, IF
YOU HAVE A GIMMICK, AND I KNOW
YOU HATE THAT WORD, BUT IF
THERE'S A GIMMICK, PEOPLE SAY,
JACK GRUNSKY HAS THE MOST
AMAZING COLLECTION OF
PERCUSSION IN THE WORLD.
IT'S WELL OVER A HUNDRED
INSTRUMENTS AT THIS POINT?

Jack says WELL, I HAVE QUITE A FEW
BECAUSE I HAVE A REAL PASSION
FOR SOUND MAKERS, IN PARTICULAR
PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS.
THEY ARE, FIRST OF ALL,
HANDY TO CART AROUND.
AND I'VE ALWAYS HAD THIS FLAIR
FOR RHYTHMIC INSTRUMENTS.

Richard says NOW, YOU'VE BROUGHT
SOME THINGS HERE.
WHAT IS THIS?

He hands Jack an instrument made of a long arched stick attached to a small hollowed calabash, and a long metal string.

Jack picks it up and says
THIS IS A BRAZILIAN BOW.
FIRST TIME I SAW THIS WAS
BACK IN EUROPE, ON ONE OF THE
TELEVISION SHOWS
I WAS A GUEST ON.
AND THERE WAS ANOTHER GUEST
WHO CAME FROM BRAZIL,
AND HE PLAYED THE BERIMBAU,
THE MUSICAL BOW.
WHICH IS A BOW, A WIRE, A
HOLLOW CALABASH, WHICH ACTS AS
A RESONATOR, AND THE WIRE
IS TAPPED WITH A STICK.
I'LL JUST DEMONSTRATE
THIS BRIEFLY.

He taps the string with a short stick and it produces a distinct metallic sound.

He continues IN MY OTHER HAND, I'M HOLDING
A FLAT STONE, AND I BALANCE
THE BERIMBAU LIKE THIS, AND
HOLD IT AGAINST MY TUMMY,
SO I CAN CREATE OR TAP
A RHYTHM ON THE BOW.
[tapping sound]
WIGGLE BACK AND FORTH TO CUT
OFF THE SOUND FLOW HERE.
AND AT THE SAME TIME, I CAN
MANOEUVRE THE STONE BACK AND
FORTH, TOUCH IT LIKE THIS...
TO CREATE A DIFFERENT PITCH.

He plays a few different sounds as he taps on the berimbau using the flat stone.

He continues IT'S A TWO-TONE INSTRUMENT.
PLAYING THOSE TWO NOTES
I CAN IMPROVISE A MELODY.
[humming]
I DEVELOPED THIS FURTHER
TO WRITE A CHANT CALLED
CHILDREN OF THE MORNING.

Richard says I THINK OF YOUR DAD.
THAT MUST BE A PRIMAL
CELLO IN SOME WAYS.

Jack says I THINK SO.

Richard says NOW, WHAT DO YOU DO
WITH SOMETHING LIKE --
WHAT ARE THESE?

He hands Jack two ankle braces with several bells each.

Jack says THESE ARE ANKLE
SHAKERS FROM INDIA.
I FASTEN THESE TO MY ANKLES,
AND VERY OFTEN WHEN I PLAY
THE BERIMBAU, I CAN ALSO
TAP OR STOMP A RHYTHM.

He shakes them and produces a ringing sound.

Richard points at another instrument and says
NOW, THIS LOOKS LIKE
A PERFECT PIECE OF
YUPPY PARAPHERNALIA.
HOW MANY KEYS DO I HAVE?

Jack picks it up. It’s a square wooden stick painted pink, with dozens of common house keys hanging along it’s base.

Jack says WHEN PERFORMED FOR CHILDREN,
WE OFTEN ADDRESS THE TOPIC
OF RECYCLING, OF COURSE.
SO HERE'S A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF
HOW YOU CAN CREATE A RECYCLED
INSTRUMENT FROM GARAGE.
OLD KEYS YOU WOULD
NORMALLY THROW AWAY...
AND MAKE SOMETHING BRAND NEW.
IT MAKES A VERY...
MAGICAL SOUND.
A WIND CHIME.

He runs his finger through the keys, which produce a gentle tingling sound.

Jack says IT'S BEAUTIFUL.
IS THERE A WHOLE WEALTH OF
PERCUSSION THAT YOU KEEP
EXPLORING AND FINDING?
ONCE PEOPLE KNOW YOU ARE INTO
THIS, DO THEY TURN YOU ON
TO THINGS?

Jack says YES.
VERY OFTEN, FRIENDS WILL POINT
OUT SOMETHING INTERESTING.
OR ON MY TRAVELS, I'M ALWAYS
LOOKING OUT FOR, WHEN I'M
CONNECTING TO DIFFERENT
MUSICIANS, OR WHEN I GO TO SEE
PERFORMANCES OR MUSIC STORES
OR FESTIVALS, WHAT HAVE YOU,
THIS WILL ALWAYS FASCINATE ME.
AND IF I CAN SEE A USE FOR IT,
OR SOME WAY I CAN BRING IT
BACK AND SHARE IT WITH
CHILDREN, OR INTEGRATE IT
INTO MY ARRANGEMENTS OR
PERFORMANCES, THEN I WILL.

Richard says SOME PEOPLE THINK OF
PERCUSSION, AND THEY THINK OF
IT IN A NEGATIVE SENSE.
I REMEMBER HEARING ONE PERSON,
A CRITIC SAYING, WHAT'S WRONG
WITH OUR AGE IS IT IS A
PERCUSSIVE AGE, AND ALL WE
DO IS BANG AND MAKE NOISE.
HOW DO YOU ANSWER PEOPLE LIKE
THAT WHO THINK PERCUSSION IS
JUST NOISE AND VOLUME?

Jack says FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T LOOK
AT IT AS MAKING NOISE.
I DON'T LIKE THAT WORD, NOISE.
IT'S NOT NOISE, IT'S SOUND.
AND THE SOUND IS CREATED
IN A VERY UNIQUE WAY WITH
WHATEVER INSTRUMENT.
FOR EXAMPLE, I'LL JUST
SHOW YOU ONE MORE.
THE GOPICHAND, WHICH
COMES FROM INDIA.

He picks up a small instrument made of two wooden rods attached to a hollow wooden ball, with a single metal string in the middle, vertically tautened between the round shape and the end of the sticks.

He plays an undulating melody.

He continues THESE ARE FASCINATING SOUNDS,
THAT TO ME, AS A MUSICIAN,
TRIGGERS MY IMAGINATION.
AND I WILL SOONER OR LATER USE
SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN THE
CONTEXT OF A SONG, EITHER
SINGING ABOUT THE INSTRUMENT --
I WROTE A SONG CALLED
SONG
OF THE BERIMBAU,
FOR EXAMPLE.
WHICH TALKS ABOUT THE HISTORY
OF THE INSTRUMENT, COMING
FROM AFRICA, 500 YEARS AGO,
COMING TO SOUTH AMERICA, AND
THEN BEING ADAPTED AND
MODIFIED BY THE SLAVES,
INTO THE INSTRUMENT THAT
IT IS KNOWN AS TODAY,
THIS FOLK INSTRUMENT
OF BRAZIL.
THE SOUND IS VERY
HAUNTING AND MYSTERIOUS.
I HAVE ANOTHER INSTRUMENT
CALLED THE OCARINA,
WHICH IS A CLAY FLUTE.
AND WHEN I PLAY IT, IT HAS
THIS HUSKY KIND OF A SOUND
QUALITY THAT, IF YOU CLOSE
YOUR EYES, AND I ASK THE
CHILDREN TO DO THIS, JUST TO
IMAGINE WE'RE GOING ON A LONG
JOURNEY WAY UP NORTH,
AND I PLAY THE SONG
MOOSE AND CARIBOU.
AND IT'S JUST FASCINATING,
FOR ME, AS A PERFORMER AND
MUSICIAN, TO SHARE THE FEELING
OF THESE SOUND MAKERS WITH
CHILDREN, AND TO WATCH THEIR
RESPONSE, WHICH IS A VERY,
VERY EXCITING ONE TO SEE.

Richard says YOU KNOW WHAT'S INTERESTING
IS THERE HAVE BEEN, A LOT OF
OTHER YOUTH ENTERTAINERS HAVE
STARTED WITH SOME OF THE SAME
ROOTS AS YOU, WITH ROOTS IN
FOLK AND IN MUSIC, AND THEN
YOU SEE AS THE YEARS GO ON,
THEY BECOME MORE PRODUCED.
AND PEOPLE WHO I KNEW ONCE
AS SIMPLE FOLKIES ARE NOW
SUDDENLY DOING THESE
MULTI-COLOURED IN-YOUR-FACE
GIANT ACTS.
YOU HAVEN'T GONE THAT ROUTE.
ARE YOU GOING TO TRY
TO AVOID DOING IT?

Jack says UM... YES.

[laughing]

Richard says EVEN IF IT MEANS
MONEY AND FAME?

Jack says I DO A LOT OF
EXCITING THINGS.
I HAVE A SYMPHONY SHOW
THAT WE'RE PERFORMING.
I HAVE A BAND THAT BACKS ME
UP WHEN WE PERFORM IN LARGER
VENUES OR FESTIVALS.
AND THESE ARE ALL
FINE, FINE MUSICIANS.
AND THE ENERGY AND THE
EXCITEMENT ON STAGE PERFORMING
WITH THESE MUSICIANS IS...
I WOULDN'T WANT TO MISS IT.
BUT I WILL ALWAYS, AND I NEED
TO, HAVE A DIRECT CONNECTION
WITH CHILDREN, WITH TEACHERS,
PARENTS, CAREGIVERS BECAUSE
THAT IS THE SOURCE
OF MY MATERIAL.
AND THAT'S WHERE I DRAW ON
TO COMMUNICATE AND TO BE
IN TOUCH WITH
CHILDREN'S FEELINGS.
WHAT ARE CHILDREN
CONCERNED ABOUT?
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
WHAT ARE THEY FEELING?
THESE ARE THINGS THAT, TO
ME, ARE VERY IMPORTANT.
SO I HOPE TO BE, AND CONTINUE
TO BE AS ACCESSIBLE TO
CHILDREN AS -- AFTER
PERFORMANCES, FOR EXAMPLE,
I'M ALWAYS AVAILABLE TO
SAY HELLO, YOU KNOW?

Richard says I REMEMBER YOU SAID SOMETHING
ONCE ABOUT, YOU SAID THAT A
SONG WAS LIKE A LITTLE WINDOW
A CHILD COULD LOOK THROUGH.
AND YOU SHOW THEM
THE WHOLE WORLD.

Jack says WELL, IT'S THE WINDOW
OF YOUR IMAGINATION.
SO SOUNDS AND SONGS CAN
TRIGGER A LOT OF THINGS
IN A VERY CONSTRUCTIVE
AND POSITIVE WAY.

Richard says DO YOU FIND OUR GENERATION,
AND OUR CHILDREN, ARE MORE
RESPONSIVE NOW, AND
MORE OPEN, OR LESS?
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW WITH
ALL OF THIS COMPUTER STUFF
AND THIS TECHNICAL AGE?

Jack says I EMBRACE COMPUTERS, AND WHAT
THEY DO, AND WHAT THEY CAN
DO, AND HOW THEY SERVE
US, AS HUMAN BEINGS.
BUT I THINK THAT IT'S OF
VITAL IMPORTANCE, IN THIS
PARTICULAR TECHNOLOGICAL
ENVIRONMENT, TO STAY IN TOUCH
WITH HUMAN VALUES,
TO STAY IN TOUCH
WITH THE EARTH.
AND I THINK WITH INSTRUMENTS
SUCH AS THESE, OR WITH SONGS
ADDRESSING THOSE KIND OF
THEMES AND VALUES, I THINK,
YOU KNOW, THAT TO
ME IS IMPORTANT.

Richard says AND AS LONG AS IT'S
IMPORTANT TO YOU,
IT'LL BE IMPORTANT TO US.
JACK GRUNSKY, THANK
YOU FOR YOUR JOURNEY.
THANK YOU FOR BEING
WITH US TODAY.
AND THE BEST OF LUCK.

Jack says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Richard faces the screen and says
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1997, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Jack Grunsky