Tag Archives: Halloween

SCJF Halloween Special: The Koopa Troop & The Orechin/Rosselli/Castelli Trio


The Koopa Troop performing at the 2015 Steel City Jazz Festival

Once I passed trick-or-treating age (the acceptable upper limit for trick-or-treating is twelve) I think that Thanksgiving slowly started to overtake Halloween in my heart. Maybe it’s because I began to realize that it’s much harder to stuff a turkey than it is to buy a box of individually wrapped mini chocolate bars. But this year, from the second year in a row, the Steel City Jazz Festival will be hosting a concert on Halloween, and I think it’s enough to rekindle my love for the holiday. I am sure once you check out what we have in store this year you will agree!

The Koopa Troop are quite simply one of the best live bands in Hamilton. Leaving aside the costumes and the repertoire, these fives musicians are some of the best, hardest-working musicians around, and I love hearing them play in any of the (many) groups that they’re a part of. So once you throw in the fact that they play the music I listened to┬ámost often growing up (ie videogame soundtracks), and that they do it with all the style of a Tanooki-Suit Mario or a Goron Tunic Link (aka, the most style), you’ve got a serious party on your hands. I give them 100/100 skulltulas (that will be the end of my videogame references for this post, probably).

The Orechin/Rosselli/Castelli Trio, with Alexei Orechin on guitar, Sal Rosselli on tenor saxophone and Lorenzo Castelli on drums, offer a counterpoint to the Koopa Troop without losing any of the excitement. The group plays adventurous, lyrical modern jazz. You can listen to a previous iteration of the band featuring Michael Pratt on contrabass on the album ‘Poetry Quartet’ below, which earned them a Hamilton Music Award nomination in 2011:

I’ve heard various members of this group a number of times, including at the very first Steel City Jazz Festival in 2013 where they played as COP Trio, and I’m consistently impressed. This performance is something of a reunion for the group and I can’t wait to hear them back in action this Halloween!

The Koopa Troop and the Orechin/Rosselli/Castelli Trio play October 31st at the Hamilton Audio Visual Node, also known as HAVN. If you’ve never been to HAVN before (located at 26 Barton St E, between James N and Hughson), it’s a studio, performance and gallery space run by a collective of Hamilton-based artists. They host art shows every Art Crawl as well as a couple concerts a month. Tickets to shows at HAVN are usually Pay What You Can and we’ll do the same, with a suggested donation of $10 towards the artists. If you have any questions about the venue or how to get there feel free to leave us a message in the comments below!

The Jazz Connection Big Band Devil’s Night Bonanza October 30th


Don’t mess with Steve. Photo courtesy Bob Hatcher.

I’d say that Halloween is the holiday most associated with getting up to no good (although St Patrick’s day might give it a run for its money), so I think it makes sense to throw a Jazz Connection Big Band show on Devil’s Night. The Jazz Connection could come out on the right side of a little bit of trouble. I’m not accusing them of any shady business here, I’m just saying that the Jazz Connection are not a band to be messed with. This is music with some punch to it, it’s powerful stuff; you’ve gotta hold on tight once they get going full swing. But trust me, hearing the Jazz Connection Big Band up close and personal is a whole lot better than a bag of candy!

This is the third year the Jazz Connection have played at the Steel City Jazz Festival and I couldn’t be happier to welcome them back again. They were one of the first acts on board for the inaugural year of the festival and they haven’t stopped impressing me since. Their performance at the Pearl Company last year was one of the highlights of the festival. You can check out a clip from that show below and get a taste of what’s in store this Friday:

In the year since they’ve continued to expand their repertoire (which now includes some Janelle Monae, fingers crossed Tightrope makes an appearance on Friday) and bring their brand of serious Hamilton big-band grit all over Ontario. If you’ve seen them before, you know you’re in for something special. If you haven’t experienced the Jazz Connection Big Band yet, now is the perfect time to start. Don’t be scared, just bring a costume and come get to know the baddest Big Band around.