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Saturday July 7, 2001

-- JAM! SHOWBIZ section --
This article from the Canadian Press
also ran in the National Post & The Globe and Mai

Toronto Quintet wins prize
at Montreal fest
Nick Ali and CRUZAO
- best Canadian group -

CANADIAN PRESS, MONTREAL -- A Latin-flavoured Toronto quintet led by Nick Ali has won the 2001 Montreal International Jazz Festival competition for best Canadian group. 

"I didn't think a Latin group would win," Ali said after it was announced Saturday that judges had picked his band -- Nick Ali and CRUZAO -- from among 10 finalists. 

Many previous competition winners were "very mainstream," said Ali, who called his group "an amalgamation of the top jazz and Latin American players in the country." 

The Trinidad-born trumpeter said the band uses conga drums, saxophone, bass and drums to make "harmonically intricate tunes.  As soloists, we're forced to stretch and explore the art, which is what jazz is all about." 

The group won the $5,000 bursary offered by General Motors of Canada plus a $3,000 prize from Galaxie, the CBC's continuous music network. It also gets 50 hours in a recording studio to make a disc for the Justin Time label and an invitation to jazz festivals next year in Montreal and Rimouski, Que. 

Ali, 31, who's busy as a studio musician, said his other credits include a one-day assignment last year on Angel Eyes, the Jennifer Lopez movie filmed in Toronto. 

"I haven't seen it yet. I've been on the road," said Ali, adding he doesn't know whether the film uses his trumpet sounds or only an image of him playing the instrument.   "When I see it, I'll know as soon as I hear it whether it's me or not." 

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