j o e s o r b a r a [ d o t ] c o m . b i o

h o m e


[ i ] bio

[ ii ] events

[ iii ] projects

[ iv ] discography

[ v ] gallery

[ vi ] contact






o w m [ d o t ] o r g

Joe Sorbara (photo by Jill Parsons)

  "...exceptionally talented and fascinating..."
  -- Evan Davies, NOW

  "Sorbara transmits [an] all-encompassing musicality..."
  -- Glenn Astaria, AllAboutJazz dot com

the short story...

Canadian drummer and percussionist Joe Sorbara has spent nearly two decades developing a reputation as an imaginative and dedicated performer, composer, improviser, organiser, writer, and educator in and around his home in Toronto, Canada. Joe and his family have recently returned from two years in Vancouver where he received a warm welcome from many of the west coast’s most adventurous musicians.

Sorbara is a highly inventive musician who has played and recorded with the AIMToronto Orchestra, Ken Aldcroft, Jared Burrows, Anthony Braxton, François Houle, Evan Parker, Allen Ravenstine, Clyde Reed, and Friendly Rich as well as with many of his own projects including Never Was, Swamp People, The Imperative, Other Foot First, Reliable Parts, Remnants Trio, My Misshapen Ear, and the Imaginary Percussion Ensemble. He is equally comfortable playing jazz, free improvised music, indie rock, and chamber music; but is most at home when playing them all at the same time.

Sorbara is a long-time student of master drummer Jim Blackley. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from York University in Toronto and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Guelph where his work focussed on critical improvisation studies, literary and cultural theory, and pedagogy. Joe has worked extensively as a workshop facilitator and guest lecturer and taught for twelve years in the Music Department at the University of Guelph.



the longer story...

Canadian drummer and percussionist Joe Sorbara has spent nearly two decades developing a reputation as an imaginative and dedicated performer, composer, improviser, organiser, writer, and educator in and around his home in Toronto, Canada. Joe and his family have recently returned from two years in Vancouver where he received a warm welcome from many of the west coast’s most adventurous musicians.

Sorbara is a highly inventive player with a penchant for coaxing music out of practically anything. His basic drum setup is regularly augmented with found and prepared materials which ensure that the sounds at his ready disposal are practically orchestral in scope. He combines these skills with an extraordinary time-feel that makes him one of the most swinging drummers in Canada when the music demands it of him. Sorbara’s music draws from a vast array of influences. He is equally comfortable playing jazz, free improvised music, indie rock, and chamber music; but is most at home when playing them all at the same time.

Ongoing Toronto-based projects include Never Was, a brand new quartet with Madeleine Ertel, Reknee Harrett, and Naomi McCarroll-Butler; The Imperative, a trio featuring Jay Hay and Karen Ng on tenor saxophones; The Imaginary Percussion Ensemble with Germaine Liu, Mark Zurawinski, and other adventurers; Swamp People, a sextet exploring the early music of Jimmy Giuffre with Harley Card, Michael Davidson, Dan Gooch, Jay Hay, and Pete Johnston; an improvising duo with sound singer, Paul Dutton; My Misshapen Ear, a trio with Anthony Argatoff and Andrew Furlong; and an improvising trio with Bill Gilliam and Glen Hall. Joe is one-third of Mars People, a Montréal-based trio playing music by and for Ken Aldcroft with Emily Denison and Daniel Kruger. He plays in two Vancouver-based trio projects: one with François Houle and James Meger and another with Jared Burrows and Clyde Reed. Less formal west coast collaborations are ongoing with Meredith Bates, Nikki Carter, JP Carter, Lisa Cay Miller, Bill Clark, Marina Hasselberg, Peggy Lee, Kenton Loewen, Ron Samworth, Carol Sawyer, Jeff Younger, and Josh Zubot, among others.

In addition to all of this, he takes part in numerous ongoing and ad hoc collaborations with creative improvising musicians from all over.

Sorbara's music can be heard most recently on Reliable Parts (2018, Oval Window Records) with Vancouver musicians Jared Burrows and Clyde Reed and on Waiting for the Bomb (2018, ReR Megacorp), a recent release by Alan Ravenstine (Pere Ubu, Red Krayola). In 2017, he released The Imperative (2017, Oval Window Records), a tribute to the life, music, poetry, and prose of Sun Ra featuring saxophonists Jay Hay and Karen Ng. Among many other recordings, Joe appears on At Somewhere There alongside long-time rhythm-section comrade, Wes Neal, on bass and free improvisation pioneer Evan Parker on tenor saxophone; on two releases by The AIMToronto Orchestra, one featuring creative music luminary, Anthony Braxton; and on numerous recordings with long-time collaborator Ken Aldcroft. Sorbara can also be heard alongside Tania Gill, Peter Lutek, and Scott Peterson, interpreting Mitchell Akiyama's music for the score to David Hartt's 2015 film/installation, Interval, recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Joe has worked extensively as a workshop facilitator and guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, the Royal Conservatory of Music, Humber College, Carleton University, Vancouver Community College, and elsewhere. He taught in the Music Department at the University of Guelph from 2007-16 and currently teaches privately and through the Regent Park School of Music in Toronto.

Sorbara is a student of master drummer Jim Blackley with whom he studied for nearly five years from 1998 through 2003. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from York University in Toronto and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Guelph where his work focussed on critical improvisation studies, literary and cultural theory, and pedagogy.

A stalwart creative music organiser, Sorbara currently works as a member of the Somewhere There collective to present creative music events in Toronto including monthly shows at the Arrayspace and The Emmet Ray and a yearly festival. Previously, he was involved in two seminal creative music series’ in Toronto, co-directing As Is along with trumpeter Ellwood Epps for three years beginning in 2000 and the Leftover Daylight Series with many collaborators for the better part of a decade beginning in 2003. He was a founding board member of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto and co-founder of their Interface Series of weekend-long performance events featuring many well known improvisers from far and wide. He recently presided over monthly series of Music By & For Ken Aldcroft, in celebration of his long-time collaborator and friend.