Spirit of Kerouac lives on in beat-flavoured jazz suite
Winnipeg guitarist Keith Price found inspiration on the road
Roger Levesque, Freelance
Published: Thursday, February 09 2012
Just as so-called “beat” writers like Jack Kerouac found inspiration in the freedom of jazz music, all sorts of jazz musicians have taken inspiration from the beats.
Winnipeg guitarist Keith Price is one of the latest to pay tribute in a six-part suite he calls Gaia/Goya, which also serves as the title of his recent album release.
“I was traveling around Europe with an acoustic guitar, listening to a lot of indie rock music and reading stuff by Gary Snyder and Kerouac,” he says. “I guess I was picking up a little on the romance of the beats. Instead of playing standards, I wanted to play something more current, something that came from that experience.”
Each part of the suite is dedicated to beat figures like Kerouac or characters in their work, or for Price’s friends or have some other cultural reference. The album also includes jazz covers of Nirvana and Sufjan Stevens.
Price says it’s hard for him to distinguish between straight-ahead jazz and his other musical influences – from chanting to grunge rock.
He grew up listening to various shades of pop and rock music and started strumming his grandfather’s guitar at age 11. But it was the school band director who exposed him to jazz and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps album that first grabbed his attention. Price was fascinated with improvisation, and then he found the recordings of former Winnipeg guitarist Lennie Breau.
“At first it was magic, it was like witchcraft,” he says.
“I wondered ‘how is it possible that they can be making this stuff up?’ and I could hardly believe it. I loved that it was in the moment, but it took me a long time to figure it out.”
After high school, Price attended a conservatory in Amsterdam, took lessons from Mick Goodrick in Boston, and returned to study at the University of Manitoba. He has worked in all contexts from big bands to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
His first album Breakfast Of Champions (2009) got him a nomination for the TD Grand Prix Du Jazz and a spot at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. And Gaia/Goya features some of the same musicians – bassist Julian Bradford, drummer Curtis Nowosad, on his current tour out west.
The trio plays the Yardbird Suite (102 Street, 86 Avenue) Friday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $14 for members, $18 for guests, from Ticketmaster (1-855-985-5000) or at the door.
Indie Jazz? The Keith Price Trio
by Malcolm Petch
Keith Price is an indie musician. The Keith Price Trio is an indie group. Mention the term “Indie Musician” and what generally comes to mind is a casually dressed individual (i.e. contemporary hippie-type clothing) toting an acoustic guitar, singing and playing folksy-sounding songs they wrote themselves. The term “Indie Group”, on the other hand, usually conjures up images of earnest young men slamming around on electric guitars, playing self-written music that’s got enough of an edge to keep them slightly off-centre of mainstream but still pushing hard for a record deal; and they, too, are often dressed like modern hippies. This is a definition we’ve already (as in previously) tossed around in our newsletter, boys and girls.
Yet as soon as you hear the name “Keith Price Trio” you think, “Hey, what’s this ‘trio’ business all about?’ – and that’s your first inkling that something other than the pre-fab definition of indie group might be in play here.
Most of the promo photos of Keith Price show him in a casual beard. So far, so good. Some shots show him wearing a baseball cap – a trucker-style nylon mesh baseball cap; again, artist apparel that we’re familiar with here at Streaming Café.
But even the casual observer at this point notes that the guitar accompanying Price in all the shots is a lovely hollow-body electric, worn slightly higher on his body than most rockers would be comfortable with. And in pictures of the whole Trio, the bassist is seen with a double bass (you know, those giant violins that stand on a metal spike).
“Aha!” you say. “This is a jazz group!”
Well, yes. The Keith Price Trio is a jazz group. (And now the ‘trio’ business makes sense). Price hails from Winnipeg, and has made his musical home in Manitoba by choice, even though he was offered a scholarship at New York’s New School University. Price spent time in Boston studying with guitar guru Mick Goodrick, but when it came time to put down roots, his choice was to spend time in the jazz program established by Steve Kirby at the University of Manitoba.
“A jazz group? Aren’t jazz musicians / groups a little too esoteric for the likes of us at Streaming Café?” (SHHH! Don’t let them hear you saying that!!).
Here are a couple of examples of what’s different about Keith Price, and part of why the Keith Price Trio is booked to play SC:
– Price produced Michael Peters’ latest album; Peters is an indie-pop singer/songwriter who appeared at SC back in the early days.
– Keith Price Trio’s new album, Gaia Goya, features covers of tunes by artists like Nirvana, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, and Grizzly Bear.
– Six of the tracks on the new album are a suite that Price wrote while on his last tour, and they’re based loosely on Pink Floyd’s album Animals.
Nirvana. Pink Floyd. Definitely not your typical jazz fare. Sufjan Stevens. Definitely part of the faves playlist of most Streaing Café aficionados. Maybe this Keith Price Trio is more SC-like than might be first realized.
Keith’s own words to Michael, our talent-booking (amongst everything else) guy: “I’ve really enjoyed watching/hearing my friends Kim McMechan, James Lamb, and Michael Peters perform at the café. The quality of the recordings is always amazing and the vibe of the place seems really wonderful, even over the Internet.”
We like it when people tell us they like what we’re doing. And it’s good to hear that Price is friends with some of the artists who’ve played here (McMechan and Lamb have each been featured here on multiple occasions). And it’s good to know our live streaming has even reached into the land of Manitoba. But is that enough to make the Keith Price Trio someone we would host at SC?
“I find the jazz world a little too stuffy these days,” Price says, “and have been wondering: why are the folk musicians having so much fun when we are having very little?”
Price says his newest album is intended to reach beyond the confines of the jazz world. His choice to cover material by artists like Nirvana and Sufjan Stevens in his latest work is an intentional decision designed to bridge the gap between the more every-day music lover and the sometimes hard-to-understand world of jazz.
“I’m trying to find a balance with my new music between interesting, creative jazz and material that is accessible to a wide range of people (not just jazz nerds!) without being cheesy.”
Price and his bandmates, Julian Bradford on bass and Curtis Nowosad on drums, have logged a lot of time together. They’ve covered gigs such as CBC Canada Live and the 2010 Montreal Jazz Festival. In a testament to either their courage or their Manitoba hardiness, they’ve elected to tour Canada during these frigid winter months, and they’ll be appearing at Streaming Café on February 11th.
Landing as it does right in the Valentine’s Day season, an evening with the Keith Price Trio might be the perfect chance for a night out, with warm jazz filling the airwaves – yet jazz that is easy to get into even for the non-initiated listener. Keith has done an amazing job of opening up the world of jazz guitar to everyone through his choice of cover material. We think this is going to be a great night! Saturday February 11, live in person at 596 Leon Ave in Kelowna, or live online at StreamingCafe.net
The National Jazz Chart
For the Week Ending: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
1 2 Sultans Of String CanCon Band Website Move Self-Released
2 re Keith Price Trio/Quintet CanCon Gaia/Goya Self-Released
3 3 Oliver Jones CanCon Live In Baden, Switzerland Justin Time
4 1 Eucalyptus CanCon Eeeeeuuucaaaaaaallyyypppptus Blocks Recording Club Label Website
5 — Janice Finlay Anywhere But Here Self-Released
6 — Belle Plaine CanCon Band Website Notes From A Waitress 13th Ave
7 10 Sunna Gunnlaugs Band Website Long Pair Bond Sunny Sky
8 6 Jacaszek Band Website Glimmer Ghostly International Label Website
9 re Ryan Davidson Trio CanCon Ryan Davidson Trio Self-Released
10 9 Ask The Oracle CanCon Ask The Oracle Self-Released
re = re-entry to chart
Western Canadian Tour – February 2012
February 7th – Winnipeg, MB – CCFM
February 8th – Brandon, MB – The Music Studio
February 10th – Edmonton, AB – Yardbird Suite
February 11th – Kelowna, BC – The Streaming Cafe
February 13th – Golden, BC – The Winston
February 14th – Field, BC – The Truffle Pigs Bistro
February 15th – Lethbridge, AB – The Slice
February 16th – Calgary, AB – The Beatniq
February 19th – Winnipeg, MB – WECC (opening for Robert Glasper)
By: Chris Smith
Keith Price’s second album, Gaia/Goya, was partially inspired by poet Gary Snyder. (SUPPLIED PHOTO
When guitarist Keith Price goes on the road to make music he, well, makes music.
While traveling on his own and with Ron Paley’s band accompanying the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in the United States, he worked on a long-form suite that composes half of his sophomore recording Gaia/Goya, which is being released on Saturday at Aqua Books.
Four of the 10 tracks on the album are indie music, but the 27-year-old guitarist wanted a longer form, more dramatic suite as well. “I used the Pink Floyd disc Animals as an outline,” he said.
Gaia is the name of an ancient Greek goddess who cares for the planet, and of a theory that everything is part of one system, Mother Earth, he explains. While on the road, he read a book of poetry by Gary Snyder that included environmental essays and the suite was born. Part 1 is named Theme for Gary Snyder.
The indie material includes a cover of Kurt Cobain’s Lithium and while it is the first time Price has recorded the Nirvana hit, “it was the first thing I played in sixth grade. It was easy to play power chords,” he says.
The playing has advanced since then, of course, and Lithium and the whole recording sound very good in the hands of Price, bassist Julian Bradford, drummer Curtis Nowosad, pianist Will Bonness and alto saxophonist Neil Watson playing in trio and quintet formats.
Released: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
Producer: Keith Price
Studio: Epiphany Lutheran Church
In 2010 I had the pleasure of working with singer/songwriter Michael Peters to produce his second full length album.
Check out the title track, Etherized. To me, it sounds like Michael and his lyrics are blended with sounds from The Police and Sufjan Stevens!
Jordan Jackiew recorded, mixed and mastered the album and shares some of the production credit.
Julian Bradford on bass, Curtis Nowosad on drums, Ron Halldorson on pedal steel, Andrew Littleford on flugal horn and Alex Cambell on piano.