One of the top Canadian jazz musicians

Once your hear Dave's sound, you never forget it

Vancouver Island-native, Dave Say, loves jazz and all its variations. Multi-talented across genres and reed instruments, Dave regularly headlines at major west coast venues, Canadian jazz festivals, and is a first-call side musician to a variety of award-winning performers.  

Growing up in Courtenay, BC, he spent his summers at the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre learning alongside other future Canadian jazz luminaries such as Phil Dwyer and Diana Krall. Dave credits this program and working alongside other talented British Columbian mentors as what laid the groundwork for him to pursue a full-time career as a saxophonist.

A 35-year veteran of the west coast music scene, Say has spent his career gigging weekly, becoming a local favourite to Vancouver jazz, blues, R&B, soul and big band fans. On straight-ahead and bebop gigs, Dave pays homage to heroes such as Rollins, Getz and Ammons. He swings hard and improvises melodically, conjuring the jazz greats of yesteryear while infusing each note with his own brand of heartfelt emotion. "Blistering saxophone virtuoso, Dave Say, is a pillar of Vancouver jazz." writes popular local music curator/blogger Jeni Maston on Jeni's Picks. 

An adept reader, he has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with acclaimed artists such as Bernadette Peters. On R&B and funk projects, Dave is immensely soulful, energized, swinging, and always in the pocket of perfection. He also performs with Latin groups, such as the popular John Korsrud Latin Band.

As a composer, his original music projects are suspenseful and contemplative. The melodies paint intense brush strokes of moody grey while the improvisations allow for incredible bursts of light. The intensity challenges the audience to meditate with their own deep reflections and re-consider their perspectives. While his original music can be somber and brooding, a reassuring smile forms at the corner of the lips alongside a reassuring twinkle in the eye. Not since Jimmy Rowles, The Peacocks, has a composer been able to capture atmospheric tension as well as Say does with his Blue Highways project. This program's soaring improvisations channel the power of the Coltrane and Shorter, putting Say's originals' projects in the category of contemporary musicians such as free-jazz saxophonist Dave Liebman and jazz fusion/hard bop saxophonist Steve Grossman. 

He is a talented teacher and in-demand studio musician, having performed on over 75 recording sessions, such as records by Robbie King, Marcus Mosley, and Tony Wilson.

Dave's rich and beautiful tone, tasteful improvisations, adventurous spirit, and competency across styles and saxophones make him a first-call band member to vocalists and instrumentalists alike.  

He has worked with best-selling artists (including The Supremes, Michael Bublé, Dee Daniels), leading-big bands (Hard Rubber Orchestra, Dal Richards) and orchestras (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), award-winning jazz musicians (Juno-award-winners Brad Turner, Miles Black, Order of Canada-recipient Oliver Gannon), heroes of yesteryear (Linton Garner, Claude Ranger, Hugh Fraser), as well as a variety performers in various genres including Michael Kaeshammer, Soulstream and many more. 

Dave resides in Vancouver where you can find him performing multiple times a month, playing on recordings, teaching and composing. Be sure to friend him on Facebook, and sign up for his mailing list to learn where he next performing, and be the first to know when he releases new music. 

(A short bio can be found on the homepage.)

Dave has performed and/or collaborated with:

 He has presented tributes to:

  • Thelonious Monk, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Steely Dan, Weather Report, and many more over his long career. 

Dave is in-demand as a tasteful, soulful and supportive band member and accompaniest to jazz, R&B, blues, gospel and soul vocalists, including:

Festivals and venues where Dave has appeared include:

  • The Orpheum Theatre with the VSO and Bernadette Peters;
  • The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival;
  • Festival International de Jazz de Montréal;
  • The Historic Fox Theatre, Atlanta (with Bublé);
  • Toronto venues including The Rex Hotel;
  • British Columbia festivals such as Music by the Sea, Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival, Pender Harbour Jazz Festival;
  • Vancouver jazz venues such as Frankie's Jazz Club, Kay Meek Centre for Performing Arts, The Tangent, Guilt & Company, Pat's Pub, Blue Frog Studios, China Cloud, 2nd Floor Gastown @ The Water St Cafe;
  • And many many more...