By Bert Waslander and John Haysom
You may have read in the Ottawa Citizen or heard on CBC radio about the Ottawa jazz community mourning the April death of bassist Howard Tweddle due to COVID-19. Although Howard lived in Carp, he spent a lot of time in the Glebe, in large part because he was the third member of our Glebop Jazz Trio. We (pianist Bert and trumpeter John) live in the Glebe. We kidded Howard that our trio’s name came from a combination of “Glebe” and “bebop” because we play bebop jazz, two of us live in the Glebe and the third wished he did.
The typically easygoing Howard never gave us a hard time about this last point as he and his wife Eveline seemed happy in Carp.
Howard had a passion for making music no matter what the genre. From a young age, he played guitar and piano. He played in a rock band in his native England while studying electronic engineering at Cambridge. He played electric bass when we first met him in 1997. We joked about shaming him into learning to play the acoustic double bass in his early years with Glebop. He mastered this instrument fully and was much in demand since then. He played in several jazz groups in addition to Glebop. He also took great delight in playing in pit bands for community musical theatre groups, and he played piano in The Wild Cards, a big band playing rock music. A new grand piano recently appeared in his home, and he was getting reacquainted with classical music.
Sixteen of the 23 years that the three of us played together included weekly and later monthly performances at the Arrow and Loon Pub in Fifth Avenue Court. You may remember the article in last October’s Glebe Report (“Glebop is Here to Stay”) about our successful transition to the Pints and Quarts Pub, now renamed Glebe Central Pub, after the demolition of Fifth Avenue Court. One reason for the longevity of our Glebe popularity is that we feature many of Ottawa’s fine jazz vocalists, a different one at each performance. This requires monthly rehearsals, and most of these rehearsals occur at Bert’s house – more trips for Howard from Carp to the Glebe.
Howard was not only an excellent bass player, he was also a consummate overall musician. In our monthly Glebop shows, he did not perform many solos but when he did, they were always a clear development of the tune, well rounded and with lively rhythm. They rarely failed to draw applause from the audience. (We were sometimes quite jealous.) Many will remember seeing him absorbed in his music, with a sweet smile on his face as if he was in seventh heaven.
He also had an ear for the performance of the trio as a whole. In our rehearsals with a different singer each month, we set structure, tempo, style and rhythmic feel for every song to suit the needs and taste of the particular singer. Howard would often be the one to put his finger on what did not work well or how to make the arrangement better.
Howard played in (and John continues to play in) the Standing Room Only big band (SRO). SRO, based in Almonte, has played around the Ottawa region including at Glebe performances such as Sunday afternoon tea dances at the Glebe Community Centre and four appearances at the Ottawa Tulip Festival. Howard also made the trek from Carp to the Glebe to play with various made-up groups on John’s neighbour’s front lawn during the Great Glebe Garage Sale to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank, and to play in Bert’s living room at the Waslanders’ annual skating party.
He was good company, always relaxed and ready for conversation with us or the audience. He will be greatly missed by many in the Ottawa music community. We’re glad he was willing to make that Carp-to-Glebe trek so often, and his passing is a great loss for Glebop and our friends in the Glebe.
Bert Waslander (pianist) and John Haysom (trumpeter) are Glebites, members of the Glebop Jazz Trio and longtime friends of the third member, Howard Tweddle.