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Retired teacher finds return to the stage is sax of fun

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Cathy Dobson

High school teacher Al Weiss may be retired but his schedule is quickly filling with musical projects and live shows.

It’s no surprise for those who know him. He’s a high-energy kind of guy.

And he loves the saxophone.

“I’m just starting to play out again,” he said, “and I’m down at the water nearly every day.”

Weiss can often be found on the waterfront, near the Blue Water Bridge or in Canatara Park, belting out a tune on his sax.

“I don’t want to impose on anyone but it’s good for the soul to play by the water,” he says. “It’s good for the diaphragm too.”

Sometimes, he likes to play on the top of the hill at the water treatment plant. Can’t beat the view or the cardio exercise playing sax as you climb the hill, says Weiss.

He first picked up the sax as a student at Central Collegiate while taking music classes with the late Willy Timmermans. Later, he studied performance at Humber College, earned a BA at York and took his B of Ed at U of T.

Along the way, he belonged to a number of bands and grew to love the adrenalin rush of playing live.  He said his biggest thrill was probably playing with the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson who invited Weiss to join him during a show at York University.

“After that, I was never intimidated on stage,” he said with a laugh.

Weiss’ teaching career began in the City of York right after graduation.  A year later, he returned to his hometown and launched into a lengthy teaching career that ended with retirement in 2015.

Most of his time was at St. Clair, where he pulled together a group of talented musicians from across Sarnia-Lambton and formed the Dominant Seven Jazz Band.

“It was a beautiful thing, filling the city with music. I’ve been asked if I’ll do it again,” he said in such a way that suggested he hasn’t ruled it out.

Weiss is playing a number of local shows again, including:

* MARCH  31, at Ups N Downs on Front Street. Toronto-area vocalists Gillian Nicola and Brooklyn Doran are joined by guest Al Weiss. They’ve never played together before and may or may not have a chance to practice, he says. “I’ve had great success just stepping on stage.  It keeps you sharp.” Show starts 9:30 p.m. No cover.

* APRIL 8 at Huron Oaks. Weiss joins Yasgur’s Farm, a 10-piece band from Toronto that includes son Parker Weiss on sax. Soulful funk-rock covers and originals. Tickets are $20. Show starts 8 p.m. Yasgur’s Farm, named for the man who hosted Woodstock, has played in Sarnia six times this past year, including Jazz in the Village. Call 519-383-1182 for details.

* APRIL 23, 3 p.m. at The Lawrence House Turret Room. The Riverview Jazz Trio plays, including Andy Tattersall on jazz guitar, Andy Lloyd on acoustic bass and Al Weiss on sax. Tickets are $10.

* OCTOBER 7 at Imperial Theatre. Al Weiss and Friends host their 3rd benefit for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and the local mammography unit. The evening features Yasgur’s Farm, the Riverview Jazz Trio and Almost Floating.

The Arts Journal welcomes ideas about cultural activities in our community. Contact Cathy at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.




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