One of the highlights for me each year of the Steel City Jazz Festival is hearing music that the artists have composed themselves. Of course like any jazz fan I have my favourite standards that I’m excited to hear played, but I also relish hearing the stories of how a certain composition came to be, who it was inspired by or what it is trying to convey. When artists perform their own music they show a different side of themselves, and the experience becomes just a little bit richer for it. At the 2016 Steel City Jazz Festival I’m excited to welcome two groups of musicians whom I respect greatly as performers and composers: Kite Trio and the Brad Cheeseman Trio, playing at Artword Artbar on October 27th.
Kite Trio, hailing from Montreal, are Eric Couture on guitar, Eric Dew on drums and Paul Van Dyk on upright bass. The band is one of the tightest groups of improvisers I’ve ever heard. I remember the last time I saw them play in Hamilton, they were asked how much of the music was arranged in advance. Based on how in-sync they were throughout their performance, I assumed they must have planned out most of the feel-changes, pauses, and interlocking lines in advance. No, they said, very little of it was mapped out before they began; they have just developed such a strong rapport with one another that they can make even the most exciting and challenging improvisations sound effortless. A musical comparison they hear regularly is with The Bad Plus, a connection that may feel even stronger as they record their new album with Bad Plus drummer Dave King!
Since we have invited a fantastic Montreal group to Hamilton, it somehow seems appropriate to round out the evening with a band led by Brad Cheeseman, one of Hamilton’s best bass players and recent recipient of the prestigious TD Grand Prix de Jazz Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. His recent album of original compositions inspired by the David Foster Wallace novel Infinite Jest, Figurants, ranks among the best modern jazz you’ll hear anywhere, and garnered a nomination for a Toronto Independent Music Award. His previous album won this year’s Hamilton Music Award for Best Instrumental Album. Amid all the accolades, Brad has been helping the Steel City Jazz Festival develop a (soon to be announced!) series of talks and clinics. We’re lucky to have him at the festival and we’re lucky to have him as a part of the Hamilton music community. He’ll be joined by Adrean Farrugia on piano and Adam Fielding on drums; don’t miss it!