We’ve asked bassist, composer and Steel City Jazz Festival-organizer Brad Cheeseman to share his thoughts on this very exciting show. Here’s Brad!
In 2008, I went to the old Pepper Jack Cafe on King William (now Absinthe) to see some friends open for a band called rinsethealgorithm. I didn’t really know anything about the band, but this performance had a profound effect on me and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this one concert shaped the trajectory of my own musical development. This band—led by bassist Rich Brown and featuring drummer Larnell Lewis, saxophonist Luis Deniz and pianist Robi Botos—was so in sync with each other (especially Rich and Larnell) and offered so much energy yet always remained musical.
I’ve seen Rich and Larnell perform many times since that Pepper Jack gig in ’08, yet I still never tire of hearing these two make music together. When you look at their combined experience, it’s no wonder; as of 2016, Rich Brown has released three stellar albums as leader and has toured the world with artists as diverse as Rudresh Mahanthappa, Donny McCaslin, Dapp Theory, and Steve Coleman & 5 Elements (among many others). Larnell Lewis has performed with artists like Fred Hammond, Lalah Hathaway and Lisa Fischer, and has been touring/recording with Snarky Puppy since 2014 (yes, that’s him laying it down on tunes like “Lingus,” “What About Me?” and “Big Ugly”).
In 2012, I was lucky to attend one of Rich’s first solo concerts at Toronto’s 80 Gladstone where, rather than giving a straight concert (i.e. two sets of tunes with an intermission), there were performances mixed with Q&A and a general musical hang. To call it a clinic or workshop would be a disservice to the atmosphere at these events. Rich would play a couple of beautiful pieces, and the audience would get a chance to talk about what just happened. It wasn’t just a bass thing, or even necessarily a jazz thing (although these topics certainly came up)… it was predominately a music thing. When it came time to plan some events for the 2016 Steel City Jazz Festival, I knew that I needed to share that experience with Hamilton.
Very recently, Rich and Larnell gave a special duo performance as Lewis.Brown. When the possibility came up of having both Rich Brown and Larnell Lewis perform at this year’s Steel City Jazz Festival, festival director Chris Ferguson and I jumped at the opportunity. What started out as an opportunity to bring my favourite bassist to Hamilton turned into something bigger and, on Friday October 28, we’re inviting you to come see two of the best musicians in the country perform in a rare duo setting for an unforgettable concert experience at Artword Artbar.