Jazz for the masses

People who find jazz music intimidating, snooty or just plain impenetrable have probably never heard the Hutchinson Andrew Trio perform — or at least that’s Kodi Hutchinson’s hope.

From left: bassist Kodi Hutchinson

From left: bassist Kodi Hutchinson

People who find jazz music intimidating, snooty or just plain impenetrable have probably never heard the Hutchinson Andrew Trio perform — or at least that’s Kodi Hutchinson’s hope.

The bassist for the instrumental jazz trio that performs on Friday, April 17, at the Elks Club in Red Deer, said his group strives to make accessible music with discernible, hummable melodies that continue pleasantly playing in listeners’ heads.

Hutchinson believes people with an aversion to jazz tend to associate the entire genre with free jazz, which is created by experimental artists with no interest in melody lines. Most listeners have no idea what to make of those “squawking and bopping” sounds, said Hutchinson.

“They don’t understand it. It makes no sense to them.”

But if free jazz can be compared to the random paint drippings of the visual non-objective artist Jackson Pollock, then the contemporary acoustic jazz music created by the Hutchinson Andrew Trio is like the impressionistic waterlilies painted by Claude Monet, said Hutchinson.

“We’re about making beautiful music” that evokes vivid images.

Take the title track from the Alberta group’s latest release, Music Box — Hutchinson said he hasn’t yet met anyone who’s heard this tinkly melody and can’t imagine a kid’s jewelry box — “the kind with the little ballerina that twirls around.”

Of course, not all of the trio’s tunes are that obvious. Many of the group’s atmospheric instrumentals can be interpreted differently, depending on a listener’s mood or even the musicians’ momentary mindset.

Calgary-based Hutchinson said he and pianist Chris Andrew and Juno-nominated drummer Sandro Dominelli, who are both of the Edmonton area, can put a different spin on a tune, depending on their emotional state while playing it.

“It can be a completely different experience for you and the person next to you, depending on how they’re feeling that day. It can inspire completely different emotions.”

For instance, pianist Andrew can start playing a ballad and weave in various Latin and swing rhythms, said Hutchinson. “Chris is one of the most powerful piano players . . . he can take songs in different directions.”

The Hutchinson Andrew Trio have been called a unique voice for bringing a Western sound to the Canadian jazz scene. The trio’s debut album, Lost but Not Forgotten lingered for weeks on top of CKUA and CBC Radio charts and garnered a 2006 Western Canadian Music Award Nomination, which had been unheard of for an Alberta-based jazz band, said Hutchinson. “Usually those are given to groups from Vancouver.”

Since then, the Hutchinson Andrew Trio recorded a second CD, Music Box, with guest saxophonist Ralph Bowen, and performed to enthusiastic crowds across Alberta and at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

When the group plays next week at the local fundraiser for the Central Music Festival in Red Deer, it will be with special guest singer Thea Neumann, who’s known for her modern takes on arrangements popularized by Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. benefit concert are $36 (doors open at 7 p.m.) at the Elk’s Lodge at 6315 Horn St. in Red Deer. The fundraiser will include a silent auction and 50-50 raffle. Tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre or Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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