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Joe Sealy: Award winning composer of the Africville Suite

Joe Sealy is a highly successful African Canadian Jazz musician, composer, recording artist and radio broadcaster. His 1997 Juno Award winning Africville Suite inspired Ron Foley MacDonald of The Halifax Daily News to write; “This may be the most important jazz album released in Canada this year”. Joe has presented “The Africville Suite” in concert venues and at music festivals across Canada as well as Denmark, Norway and the USA.

Joe SealyJoe Sealy TrioJoe Sealy

Born on August 16, 1939 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His early piano studies were with Oscar Peterson’s sister Daisy Peterson Sweeney and Bob Langlois in Montreal, and later with Darwyn Aitken in Toronto. Moving in 1967 to Halifax, he served as music director or consultant for several CBC TV series (‘Music Hop’ 1967-9, ‘Roundabout,’ ‘Student Showcase,’ etc), played organ in the Unusuals (an R&B trio with Charles ‘Bucky’ Adams, tenor saxophone; Chuck Cornish, French horn, drums and vocals), and was a pianist in local studio orchestras and hotel lounges.

In 1976 Sealy went to Toronto where he has worked extended engagements in jazz rooms and lounges (eg, intermittently 1980-3 at Errol’s) and served as musical director for a succession of musicals through the 1980s, including Spring Thaw, Indigo, Ain’t Misbehavin’,More Sweet Reason, One More Stop, Madame Gertrude and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, taking acting roles in several.

Sealy has written scores and/or songs for TV and film, and several themes for jazz group. Of the latter, Sealy has recorded Early Morning Blues, Dumpling, Clear Vision, Playa Caliente, Fat Cat and Distant Shores. As a pianist whose style continues to show the influence of his early models, Oscar Peterson and Horace Silver, he has toured with David Clayton-Thomas and “Blood Sweat and Tears” and performed with such artists as Buddy DeFranco, Joe Williams, Milt Jackson, Veronica Tennant, Timothy Findlay, Sonny Stitt and Joe Williams at Pepe’s in Halifax. As well, Joe and his longtime music partner Paul Novotny have created a unique sounding jazz duo. Together they have released four CD’s, achieved two Juno nominations and shared the concert stage in Montreal & Toronto jazz festivals with Michel Petruciani, Brad Mehldau / Charlie Haden, Red Mitchell / Herb Ellis and the Bobo Stenson Trio.

Besides being president of Triplet Records Inc., Joe has hosted his own weekly radio show “Joe Sealy’s Duets” on Jazz FM 91 now in its’ fifth season. Joe was also the music director of the acclaimed “Tonya Lee Williams Gospel Jubilee” television special and several CBC radio specials including “East Coasting” and “Viola Desmond”. He has recently composed original film scores for two documentary films entitled, “The Little Black School House” and “Directors Speak”. Most recently, Joe acted as producer, arranger and pianist on a CD entitled “Mostly About You” featuring vocalist Colin Hunter.

Recently, Sealy served as Music Director for the acclaimed “Tonya Lee Williams Gospel Jubilee” television special, and a CBC Radio ‘Words & Music’ special entitled ‘East Coasting’. For the past several years, he has been the host of a weekly radio show (“Joe Sealy’s Duets”) and currently its’ successor “Joe’s Jazz” on JAZZ.FM91 in Toronto.

Joe Sealy continues to perform, produce, compose, act, and with his Seajam Recordings partner Paul Novotny, release jazz recordings, including 2009’s “Songs”. He produced, arranged and performed on vocalist Colin Hunter’s recent release “Mostly About You”.

Sealy has received the following awards:

Winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Music Direction in the Toronto production of “Ain’t Misbehavin'”
– JUNO Award Winner for “Africville Suite” CD
1998 – Nominated for a Gemini Award for his musical score for the documentary film “The Road Taken”
1999 – JUNO Nominee (with Paul Novotny) for “Blue Jade” CD
2010 – Named anOfficer of the Order of Canada – the highest civilian honour given in Canada, granted to Canadian citizens “for outstanding achievement and service to the country or to humanity at large”


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