Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

January/February 2015: big dig! band

Nu Sounds: Winnipeg’s Jazz Adventurers

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Jazz Winnipeg is rolling out its ninth season of Nu Sounds, a lively series featuring Manitoba musicians venturing into new territory.

The season opens on Sunday, January 18, with a performance by the Winnipeg Jazz Collective, a tentet of Winnipeg jazz musicians. Though personnel periodically adjusts to accommodate busy careers, the current configuration features Derek Frykas, Michael Carter, and Kyle Wedlake on saxophone, Simon Christie and Andrew Littleford on trumpet, and Bill and Joel Green on trombone. Kevin Curtis is at the piano, Julian Bradford is on bass, and Grayden Cramer plays drums. With its large horn section and a tight rhythm section, the WJC brings a big sound and lots of energy to a broad range of repertoire.

The WJC formed in 2013, with a commitment to present original compositions and new arrangements by its members and by other Canadian composer-arrangers. That mandate is a perfect fit for Jazz Winnipeg’s Nu Sounds series. Expect to hear a lively performance and encounter some of the interesting work being composed by talented local writers.

The Nu Sounds series presents four concerts between January and May, and the variety is a good indicator of the health and breadth of the local jazz community. The March concert features guitarist Keith Price blending acoustic and electronic effects in his Live Remix Project. He’ll front a jazz trio, and perform with two DJs who will record and sample the music, adding those layers along with sound clips to influence how the music unfolds. Knowing Keith’s musicianship and sensitivity, and the skill and alertness of the others on his stage—Julian Bradford, Brennan Saul, Nathan Reimer, and DJ Hunnicutt—the concert will be atmospheric, compelling, and witty.

The April concert features another guitarist, Jocelyn Gould. A recent graduate of the Jazz Studies program, Gould is a flexible, passionate musician with eclectic taste. Over the past year, she and her band—Niall Bakkestad-Legare on saxophone, Carter Graham on piano, Aaron Sabasch on drums, and Sean Burke on bass—have been meeting regularly to work on new compositions. Their Nu Sounds concert will feature the best of those tunes. You are certain to hear some fine small ensemble work from this new generation of accomplished jazz musicians taking their place in this city’s musical community.

The final concert of the season, in mid-May, features A Flock of Bards, a band that is giving me my own debut onto the jazz stages of the city. I have gathered a handful of musicians whose work I love—Simon Christie on trumpet, Shannon Kristjanson on flute, Will Bonness on piano—to expand on the poetry-bass duo work I’ve done over the years with Steve Kirby. Steve and I actually met in a poetry-jazz mash-up ten years ago, and we’ve performed occasionally in the intervening years. Every time out, we say we’re going to do more of it, so this concert provides both opportunity and impetus! I’m writing a new suite of poems, “Songs for My Father: A Call to Home,” and Steve is scoring that work for the group. Poetry and jazz have a lot of common ground—from their dependence on sonic patterning to their compression and idiosyncratic expressiveness. I think of every one of these musicians as a poet on their instrument, so together we’re going to explore the commonalities and use a jazz approach to add leavening to some new poems.

The Nu Sounds concerts take place at the Park Theatre on Sunday evenings. Tickets are $15 at the door, or $12 in advance. Jazz Winnipeg also offers a full season pass—all four concerts for only $40.

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