Jim Gilmour was born in Carfin, Scotland, but his musical journey began in Canada at the age of nine when he got his first instrument, the accordion. With the spotlight of the world stage shining in his direction, Jim responded by competing in several accordion competitions in North America, where he once finished in second place.
With a passion for learning and performing music, Jim diversified his interests, and at age 17, he began taking lessons and practicing the piano and the clarinet. Around the same time, he was enrolled in the faculty of music program at the University of Toronto and attending opera school. Little did he know what was around the corner – a dream come true.
Inspired by Eddie Jobson of the progressive rock band UK, Jim bought his first synthesizer – a Yamaha CS-80. After a brief stint as the lead vocalist/keyboardist in a Prog -Jazz quintet that featured the songs of Gentle Giant and Steely Dan, Jim was asked to join the Canadian band SAGA. Eager to demonstrate his abilities, he entered the studio and added his signature playing style to the group’s third album “Silent Knight”. Not bad for a guy in his early 20’s.
Jim’s first performance with SAGA was before a sold out audience of fans, friends and family at the legendary Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. To avoid confusion onstage with fellow band mate Jim Crichton, Jim was nicknamed Daryl after the Canadian ice hockey legend Daryl Sittler – the former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 1981, SAGA recorded “Worlds Apart” which included the international hit “On the Loose”. The bands first live recording “In Transit” was followed by the “Heads or Tales” album, and Jim’s greatest musical moment: “Scratching the Surface” – a high energy song driven by a pulsating rhythm and a sing-a-long chorus that quickly became an instant fan favorite, and a worldwide hit. After releasing the album “Behaviour”, SAGA decided to take a long and deserved break. Always moving forward, Jim, Steve Negus and singer Robert Bevan formed GNP. The result was the album “Safety Zone”, released on Virgin Records Canada in 1987.
After a six-year hiatus, SAGA reunited and entered an extensive period of innovation and creativity. The band released the energetic “The Security Of Illusion”, completed “Generation 13”, a seventy-minute musical extravaganza, and recorded “Steel Umbrellas”, the soundtrack to a U.S. television series called Cobra. Inspired by the music and sounds of Vangelis and Yanni, Jim wrote and produced his first solo recording “Instrumental Encounters”. In 1997, SAGA celebrated their 20th anniversary with the CD’s “Pleasure & the Pain” and the long awaited second live album “Detours”.
The new millennium saw SAGA return to the distinctive sound of their legendary hits with “Full Circle”, “House of Cards”, “Marathon” and “Network”, a series of new recordings featuring colorful keyboard sounds and roaring guitars. DVD releases “Silhouette”, “All Areas” and “Marathon World Tour 2004 – The Official Bootleg” provided fans with a visual experience to compliment the bands music catalogue.
In 2005/06 SAGA released several multi-media projects, including: “The Chapters Live” double CD, and the critically acclaimed album “Trust”. The following year the band issued the “Worlds Apart” live in concert DVD, and surprised fans with nine new songs on their “10,000 Days” CD. SAGA also celebrated 30 years together in 2007.
Jim’s latest musical adventure “Great Escape” is a collection of 11 songs inspired by his many camping experiences in the Canadian wilderness. Each track is a symphony of imagination and sound that chronicles the pleasures and rewards of exploring the great outdoors. The “Great Escape” is pure escapism with angelic vocals woven through unlimited instrumental moods and melodies. It’s a compelling demonstration of electronic orchestration with colorful and captivating elements of jazz, folk and pop music added to the mix. On the “Great Escape”, Jim has taken his craft to a whole new level of performance on this ambitious work of art.
Admired by professional musicians worldwide, Jim is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who plays keyboards, clarinet, sax and the accordion. He’s also a critically acclaimed vocalist with a diversity of singing styles. His influences include Eddie Jobson, Keith Emerson, Pat Metheny, Bill Evans and new artists Thievery Corporation. He has been featured several times in Keyboard magazine, and has been honored for his distinguished career in music by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario.
Written by Derrick Lee
Perhaps the hours of greatest pleasure in my life have come about as a result of the capacity of the piano to be in itself a complete expressive musical medium – Bill Evans.