photo from The Bassment’s website
It has been a while since I wrote a review of a show and I didn’t expect to be writing about this one, but the compulsion to write is upon me, so here we go! I had the great fortune to attend last night’s celebration of Contemporary Jazz and Jazz Fusion at The Bassment in Saskatoon. This was most likely a once in a lifetime experience and show and I am so grateful I got to attend!
Congratulations to Joel Grundahl and the Joel Grundahl Trio on the release of their EP and on a fantastic live show too! Also, congratulations to Kyle Krysa and his band for a really wonderful first live performance of some of Kyle’s material from his 2015 release “Distant Conversation”!
I am compelled to write about this and at the same time, feel that words cannot do the show justice. In any case, to give some extra context, this is from The Bassment’s website and promo for the show: “With a set list of original and cover jazz-fusion compositions, the Joel Grundahl Trio melds jazz with modern music, all the while embracing creativity and improvisation and striving to carry the fusion torch forward. Percussionist/composer Kyle Krysa and Distant Conversation plays the opening set with a set of Krysa’s original contemporary jazz tunes.”
When I write about symphony concerts, I go home and press play in my mind and listen to the whole concert again while jotting down my thoughts. I can’t quite do this with Contemporary Jazz and Jazz Fusion (yet!). For me, Contemporary Jazz and Jazz Fusion demand immediate and perfect presence on the part of the players and also on the part of the audience. This was a well-supported show with an audience full of friends and family and Bassment members and supporters. It was a typical listening crowd where they soak in every note played (and there were a lot of notes played!!)!
The opening set was a set of Kyle Krysa’s original Contemporary Jazz compositions played by Ian Summach on guitar, Connor Newton on sax and vocals, Dave Anderson on bass, and of course Kyle Krysa on drums. I was very excited to hear this music performed live and the experience of hearing this live as opposed to listening to the “Distant Conversation” tracks is much to be preferred!! For me, this live performance gave this music more meaning, more purpose, and more obvious drive.
The Joel Grundahl Trio played 2 sets of original Jazz Fusion with a few covers thrown in here and there – at least one selection was written by one of Joel’s colleagues from music school. Joel’s music is very much melody based with some progressive tendencies and his phrasing creates a very easy to follow experience for the audience – reflected and supported well in both the bass and the drum parts. I love how Joel has a radio announcer style voice – every song was introduced in that voice – giving the show an extra level of professionalism. The Trio consists of Joel Grundahl on guitar, Lloyd Tomczak on bass, and Kyle Krysa on drums (which is why this was likely a once in a lifetime show since Kyle was doing more than double duty at last night’s show!). I admire Kyle’s playing and find it precise, subtle, melodic, and reflective as well as always completely present and enmeshed with the melodic and harmonic structure of the music – his own music and Joel Grundahl’s music as well. At one point during the show, Graham Tilsley leaned over to me and told me something to the effect of: “if I were to describe Kyle’s playing in one word, that word would be ‘beautiful’…” – I whole-heartedly agree! And, I’d take that one step further to apply to the whole show last night – it was a beautiful night of beautiful playing all around!
As usual at music events, I would have preferred to be up dancing rather than sitting for the show but I wasn’t feeling quite that bold and Bassment regulars, Ashley and Dennis weren’t there with their ballroom dancing chops…
It was neat hearing these two groups back to back – very similar approaches to the music and the phrasing and yet, even though both groups played Contemporary Jazz Fusion material, the material was very different from one group to the next and this kept the audience’s attention for the entire show! I was actually surprised at how tired I felt at the end of the show since it was so wonderfully engaging throughout!
Thanks to all the amazing musicians on stage last night – well done! And, thanks to Troy Denet for doing sound, to The Bassment for having this event, and to Don Griffith for having the inspiration to have Kyle’s original music open Joel’s EP release show!
Looking forward to the next time I get to hear these musicians play!!! I hear that they’re playing at the Jazz Festival! Watch for it!!
Thanks for reading!
Anna Marie Bekolay, BMusEd, ARCT
Anna Marie Bekolay, soprano, violinist, teacher, adjudicator performs with many ensembles in and around Saskatoon and runs Anna Bekolay’s Studio teaching Voice, Violin, Recorder, and Fiddle. Her current projects include: Back of the Bus, The Stephanies, The Whiskey Jerks, a classical vocal album under stage name, Anna Maria Soparlo: Songs in Loving Memory of My Father, Mac Talla Quartet, Troubadours du Bois, brand new operatic/heavy bass & drums project: Phantasma, and a variety of freelance collaborations including performances with Flamenco Borealis, a recent retirement party that involved some music from Billy Elliot, a Fringe play, Brel!, based on the music of Jacques Brel, a collaborative presentation of wearable art piece, “Faceted Wings” at SWAG 2017, and upcoming fiddle feature at the Saskatoon Men’s Chorus concert (April 22, 2018).