Indie Jazz?

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

Winnipeg Free Press Review of ‘Gaia/Goya’

By: Chris Smith

Keith Price’s second album, Gaia/Goya, was partially inspired by poet Gary Snyder.</p>
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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.

The Uniter Review of ‘Breakfast Of Champions’

by Aaron Epp (Managing Editor)

4 out of 5 stars

 It’s fitting that Keith Price is holding a baseball on the cover of this CD, because with these seven songs, the jazz guitarist has hit a home run. Recorded last December, the 45-minute disc proves not only that Price has talent, but that he’s a team player too. The excellent compositions are his, but the collaborative nature of the recording is what makes songs like Warmth and the three-part Zoom Zoom work. Other guitarists might have used the opportunity to get in as many solos as possible. Price, on the other hand, picks his spots to shine and allows the other musicians – Neil Watson (alto sax), William Bonness (piano), Julian Bradford (bass) and Curtis Nowosad (drums) – the opportunity to display their formidable talents as well.