Hockey, Jazz and Songwriting

Six Great Jazz Musicians, Their Hockey Equivalents and the Music That They Might Have Made Together for the Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest Competition! 


I’ve always believed in a strong correlation between ice hockey and jazz music.  There is a combination of creativity(improvisation), fiery technique, speed of execution and shear beauty that is shared by the two disciplines.  The following is my list of six great jazz musicians, their corresponding counterpart (equivalent) in hockey, and the piece of music they might have composed given the opportunity to write a song together for the CBC Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest.


Charlie Parker/Bobby Orr


Charlie Parker was possibly the greatest jazz musician of all time.  Despite an extremely short career he had an influence that would change the direction of jazz music forever.  A risk-taker who broke all the rules describes both these amazing performers!  Orr became the most dominant player in the game of hockey in almost the same manner as Parker. If they could have collaborated musically, we’d be shaking our heads and trying to emulate their greatness for generations.


Buddy Bolden/Joe Malone


The ever mysterious Buddy Bolden was considered to be the cornerstone cornetist for all the great New Orleans’ trumpet players that followed.  His story is legendary but unfortunately, he was never recorded (there exists only one photo).   Joe Malone is considered by many to be one of the greatest players ever (7 goals in one game!).   However, due to the fact that his career was from 1911 to 1921, it is hard to compare his play to the modern day players.  I’m sure their music would be amazing, however, recording it might take away from some of the mystique!


Miles Davis/Gordie Howe


Miles had a career that started at the side of the great Charlie Parker.  He then surrounded himself with some of the best musicians and composers jazz has ever seen and went on to be one of the greatest innovators in music.  Often, his sidemen would be musicians half his age.  Gordie Howe’s career spanned 5 decades(extraordinary in such a physical sport).  He never backed away from challenges and without a doubt deserves the title Mr. Hockey.  Their tune would be a symphonic experience that transcends many styles yet touches all generations.


John Coltrane/Mario Lemieux


Coltrane was the leading figure of the 50’s and 60’s jazz heyday.  His quest for perfection was legendary and led him toward spiritual pursuit to satisfy his musical aspirations.  Anyone who has watched Mario Lemieux, would have witnessed the almost perfect hockey player.  His physicality combined with terrifically honed skills and an almost unparalleled sense for the game would create mesmerizing highlights that might lead one to believe that he possessed some sort of spiritual enlightenment. Their composition would be without doubt magical!


Louis Armstrong/Wayne Gretzky


The greatest ambassador for jazz had a spectacular career that started in the Cradle of Jazz, New Orleans.  Even though his music spanned the globe and his most significant contributions perhaps came while living in Chicago, he never forgot his roots and neither did we.  Wayne Gretzky was utterly amazing as a hockey player.  However, he was also responsible for popularizing the game in climates that don’t have a natural affiliation with the sport.  Their musical contribution would be a “great one”.  It would be uplifting, long-lasting and without a doubt, worldly!


Charles Mingus/Maurice Richard


Charles Mingus was a very controversial figure.  His music was intense and if you had the privilege of playing in his band, you showed up and played hard every night!  Maurice Richard was perhaps the most intense player the game has known.  His fiery determination and gifted play made him one of the most respected players of his generation.  Their composition would be hard-played with a driving force that would be very hard to match!





Dave Parker is a songwriter, musician and high school music teacher that lives and plays music and hockey in Quebec City.  The views expressed in this article are entirely of his own doing and might change at the drop of a puck!  The article was inspired by Tom Allen’s blog entitled “5 great composers who should have entered Song Quest” 


For more information on Dave Parker, please visit his web site at where you can join his mailing list for the price of a song, which actually, he’ll send to you!  Questions or comments can be sent to


He’s also involved with three projects that have entered the Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest.  If you want a listen, they can be found by looking under entries from the province of Quebec or clicking on the links below.


1.  Hockey Was Invented By A Nova Scotian – Dave Parker and Friends

2.  Just Above the Planet Earth – Jig’s Up!

3.  Hockey in Heaven – The Groove Music Project


When you open the artist page, the voting icon is under the band photo on the right side.  Only one vote per day!