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Canadian Heritage

Jim Galloway


JAMES (JIM) BRAIDIE GALLOWAY (saxophonist. clarinetist) was born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, 25 miles southwest of Glasgow, Scotland, on July 28, 1936. One of the international jazz scenes most significant proponents of swing, Galloway has remained one of the most popular players on the international jazz circuit for the past few decades.

He studied at the Glasgow School of Fine Arts, and worked with some of Scotland’s all-star jazz bands and ensembles before moving to Canada in 1964 to gain wide acclaim in this country for his performances of swing, traditional, and mainstream jazz. With a well-warranted reputation as one of the leading soprano saxophonists anywhere, accomplished musician and bandleader is known for his ability to play the difficult soprano with remarkable skill and sensitivity.

He joined bassist Jim McHarg’s Metro Stompers in 1966, taking over leadership of the band two years later, touring and performing locally with them for the next two decades. Frequently demonstrating his penchant for mainstream swing in Toronto jazz clubs throughout the ‘70s, he played with visiting greats including Wild Bill Davison, Vic Dickenson, Art Hodes, Jay McShann, Ralph Sutton, Buddy Tate, and Dick Wellstood. It was in the late ‘70s, too, that he began an international touring career which continues today, with Galloway making guest appearances, by invitation, at jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Nice, Bern, and Los Angeles, and at jazz parties across the United States. He has recorded albums in Austria, Canada, Holland, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, and the U.S.

In 1979, Jim Galloway introduced his 17-piece Wee Big Band as a repertory band specializing in the music of the great bands of the swing era. Today reputed to have the most extensive repertoire of any big band in Canada, Jim Galloway’s Wee Big Band recently released Blue Reverie (Sackville), the last CD to be recorded at the famous Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club in Toronto.

Since 1974, Galloway has also led a smaller swing group (known today as the Echoes of Swing sextet) entertaining on an annual Jazz Cruise aboard Holland-America cruise ships. He was host and music director for CKFM Radio's Toronto Alive! from 1981 through 1987, a weekly broadcast featuring U.S. and Canadian soloists with a stellar Toronto rhythm section. Parallel to his performing career, Galloway has worked in jazz in journalistic, programming, and adminstrative capacities. He has served as an agent for several leading Toronto jazz clubs. Jim was instrumental in establishing the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival and served as the festival's Artistic Director from its inception in 1976 until 2010.

In 2002, Jim Galloway was honoured by the Government of France with a Chevalier, one of three "Order of Arts and Letters" Awards presented to just a few hundred people worldwide each year, an elite list which also includes American recipients Ornette Coleman, Marilyn Horn, Robert Redford, and Meryl Streep.

Jim Galloway passed away on December 30, 2014.