Performance for CBC at Queens Park, Toronto

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This was from a local CBC music show made in Toronto in, I think 1985.  Think about that for a second, the local, not national division of CBC in Toronto built a set, brought in a multi-cam crew of 10 camera’s and  trucks, promoted a  free, live show and hired a jazz salsa band, and paid them, well. If you walked into a local CBC executive’s office today and proposed that …well, let’s just say they would call security. That night in Queens Park was amazing, it was hot, the band killed it and the audience killed it, the crew did a great job, it was just a lovely night in a park with 1000 of your best friends and ten cameras. I remember my wife, was very impressed, perhaps more impressed than she ever was with Manteca, not so much by the show which she knew well and liked but she was very impressed by the parking…you see there were three 45ft tractor trailers of gear and 2  mobile trucks, they took up a whole city block and  she said breathlessly, “are all those trucks for you?”


Colleen Allen

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Manteca: Colleen Allen

This is Colleen Allen she has been playing in Manteca for 7 years now. She plays, and be patient here, this is going to take a while; baritone sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, alto flute, flute, piccolo, tenor sax, alto sax, accordion and um, that’s it. After saxophonist Kelly Jefferson left the band last year (lawsuits pending – just kidding…we love Kelly and he is also fond of us…) Colleen suggested we replace him with a guitar player! A guitar player! Which we did. And she thereby doubled her load by having to either cover or replace all of Kelly’s parts too! And in a move of exceptional Machiavellian brilliance she was then assured of having every sax solo in the Manteca book! There is now a space on stage known by our crew as “Sax World” or “Saxlandia”, depending which member of the crew you are speaking to. We have been thinking about getting Colleen a “Sax Caddy” as she has so many quick changes to make between instruments. “Ma’am, I’d recommend a Bass Clarinet for this whole note.”


Colleen’s performance on this record is exceptional. Each one of her solos tell a story, a story full of heart, emotion and chops. I remember during what became the keeper take of Illusionist, we were ten feet from each other with a little glass wall separating us for sonic reasons and as she played her solo, I closed my eyes and with every twist and turn she took me on a voyage and when it was done and I knew it was recorded, and I knew it was THE solo, I felt like we had bottled magic. You can see this all unfold on Jean Francois Gratton’s beautiful video at


Colleen is the resident artist at Soulpepper Theatre, which is one of the reasons we are doing our launch at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts there on Nov. 10. at 8PM. You got your tickets right? No, oh man you better go get ‘em it’s gonna sell out it’s an intimate place.

Strength in Numbers – 1984

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Strength in Numbers was our 2nd album and because our first album was critiqued for being too studio “clean” and not having the energy of our live show we decided to record about 3/4 of the album “Direct to Digital Stereo”, which in 1984 meant to Beta tape!  This means we did not overdubs, no post-production mix, no repairs, as the tunes were played, so they remained. My fondest memory is recording Aaron Davis tune Rewenzori, which was 14 minutes long. Ralph Bowen played a remarkable solo on Soprano. He was 23 years old. We did three takes right in a row. I was playing 3 sets of clay drums crouched on the floor and when I got up I thought to myself, “wow, that felt good… I guess we have 14 minutes of the record done, merci, bonsoir!”


Jeff Wolpert recorded this record in 1984 as he did our last record The Twelfth of Never in 2016, making Jeff and I the only two Mantecians to last this long! Matt Zimbel. We have five of these on vinyl still factory wrapped!

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