j o e s o r b a r a [ d o t ] c o m  .   p r o j e c t s   .   n e v e r   w a s

madeleine ertel . trumpet
naomi mccarroll-butler . alto saxophone, clarinets
patrick o'reilly . guitar
joe sorbara . drums, percussion

madeleine ertel . trumpet    naomi mccarroll-butler . alto saxophone, clarinets    patrick o'reilly . guitar    joe sorbara . drums, percussion

Never Was is a quartet featuring Madeleine Ertel on trumpet, Naomi McCarroll-Butler on alto saxophone and clarinets, Patrick O'Reilly on guitar, and Joe Sorbara on drums and percussion.

On the second Wednesday of each month, the group gathers in the Southern Cross Lounge of Toronto's much-beloved Tranzac Club for their monthly residency exploring original music in the Black American Creative Music tradition. The group's name comes from a Sorbara composition called "It's a line that never was," itself named after a curious sentence from The You Train by science fiction and fantasy writer, N.K. Jemisin.

Madeleine Ertel

Madeleine Ertel is a trumpeter, vocalist, composer, and arranger known for her honest and melodic approach to music making. A recent graduate of the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance (2020), she can be seen zipping around on her bike on her way to perform with the free jazz-influenced quartet Never Was, the neo-soul band Moodset, her folk-inspired duo with guitarist Harry Bartlett, or in various straight-ahead jazz ensembles.

In her hometown of Kelowna, BC, Madeleine grew up playing original music around town with her sister, as well as studying classical piano and violin. Now based in Toronto, she continues to incorporate these diverse influences into her composing and improvising.


Naomi McCarroll-Butler

Naomi McCarroll-Butler is a saxophonist, clarinetist, instrument maker and composer based in Toronto. She can be found making a wide range of music, from the full-throated clamour of saxophone duo SALT to spectral whispers in the songs of Decoration Day. Naomi plays with improvising unit Never Was, The Band Named Crow, Dan Pitt Quintet, The Tortoise Orchestra, the Element Choir, The Queer Songbook Orchestra and various ad-hoc ensembles. An active collaborator, she has been featured on over 20 recordings in the last five years on various woodwinds.

At this point in her practice, Naomi's work is concerned with the liminality and ecstasy of trans embodiment, spirituality and connection to nature, loss and renewal, and our fluid perception of the passage of time.


Patrick O'Reilly

Patrick O’Reilly is a composer/guitarist and a community-driven fixture in the Toronto creative music scene. Patrick’s open-minded approach embraces both beauty and brashness; he is co-curator of the Furniture Music and Ornate Presents concert/workshop series and operates the W/DRWN record label. His trio Wire Circus have released two albums showcasing Patrick’s compositions alongside the pixilated/frenetic improvisation that is the culmination of their longstanding collaborative history. He also co-leads the international quartet Sonic Perfume who have released two albums together, and the trio WAPAMA who explore freedom of expression through rhythm, melody, and harmony.

A sought-after collaborator, he contributes to a diverse range of projects that have all added to the rich musical landscape of his own work, including indie-pop group Language Arts, afro-dub-tryp band D'bi & The 333, Robert Diack's modern jazz quartet, folk-leaning tunesmith Cassie Norton's band, Stefan Hegerat’s Icterus, and Eastern-European Inspired Ensemble DoVira.

Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Music from Humber College, and a Master's in Musical Arts degree from the University of Toronto where he is currently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.


Joe Sorbara

Canadian drummer and percussionist Joe Sorbara has spent more than two decades developing a reputation as an imaginative and dedicated performer, composer, improviser, collaborator, organiser, listener, writer, and educator. A consummate sonic adventurer, Sorbara’s music draws on a vast array of influences, most notably the African American Creative Music tradition. Joe has performed and recorded with the AIMToronto Orchestra, Ken Aldcroft, Jared Burrows, Anthony Braxton, Nikita Carter, Paul Dutton, François Houle, Germaine Liu, Evan Parker, Allen Ravenstine, Clyde Reed, Steve Sladkowski, and Friendly Rich, among many many others. Their own projects include a new sextet (more soon!) in addition to Alien Radio, Never Was, The Imperative, Other Foot First, Reliable Parts, Mars People, My Misshapen Ear, and the Imaginary Percussion Ensemble.


h o m e

[ i ] bio

[ ii ] events

[ iii ] projects

never was  

françois houle & joe sorbara

alien radio
(houle/ meger/ sorbara)

the imperative  


imaginary percussion ensemble  

reliable parts  

paul dutton & joe sorbara  


my misshapen ear  

other foot first  

remnants trio  

squash recipe  

[ iv ] discography

[ v ] gallery

[ vi ] contact

o w m [ d o t ] o r g