CANMORE – Unveiling its debut album to the Bow Valley community, The Redline Trio lit up the artsPlace stage with its electric jazz meet blues tunes Saturday evening (Feb. 1).
Redline Trio saxophonist Mark DeJong said it was exciting having the opportunity to host the trio's debut album release at artsPlace because it has given the band a space to celebrate jazz music and showcase its skills in the past.
“Jazz, the nature of the music kind of lends itself to that ... we can change it up,” DeJong said.
“The tunes themselves are vehicles for creativity and improvisation – it’s different every time.”
It is great to have a debut album, he added, but the improvisation the trio can explore on stage makes each concert unique.
The new album has unofficially been available for a couple of months, but the show at artsPlace marks the official release of Redline Trio featuring Steve Hudson.
DeJong added that because he is co-director of the Valley Winds Music Association jazz ensemble, the album debut in Canmore was made all the more special.
He hopes audiences will appreciate the depth of connection the band can communicate in its music through the way band members flow together through songs. The years they have been playing together live allows them to play-off and respond to each other when performing.
The trio came together three years ago and has honed its songs playing mainly at the speakeasy cocktail bar Betty Lou’s Library in Calgary – bringing drums, saxophone and bass together to create modern jazz tunes that roar with the influence of early blues music.
“It’s a rare thing for a band to have a regular gig nowadays,” DeJong said.
“The fact that we have a weekly gig in Calgary, as well as additional concerts and festivals, to have that regular gig really means that we sound like a band.”
Hailing from Calgary, DeJong and drummer Jeff Sulima had known each other “for many years.” The duo reconnected while both were living in Vancouver in the early 2000s.
They ended up moving back to Calgary and launched the Redline Trio in 2016. DeJong said they found that the best way to have fun with their tunes was featuring guest musicians.
The trio’s collaboration with visiting artists began with multi-Juno award-winning trumpet player and pianist Brad Turner, who joined them on stage for a few shows, including a gig at artsPlace.
The Redline Trio later went on to host multi-Juno award-winning bassist Brandi Disterheft at artsPlace and brought out pianist Steve Hudson as well.
DeJong said he had worked with Hudson for around 20 years and collaborating on an album served as an opportunity for the entire band to work with the renowned pianist.
“We had so much fun we decided we wanted to do a recording with Steve,” DeJong said, explaining how the trio’s debut album Redline Trio featuring Steve Hudson was inspired.
The band got to work recording at the Banff Centre in May 2019. DeJong had done a recording session with André Wickenheiserin in the fall of September 2018 and said he was impressed with the space because it allows musicians to focus on the process of creation.
“I had recorded at the Banff Centre before, but it reminded me of how much I like the space,” DeJong said.
“They have a beautiful piano there.”
He added that the band was thrilled to receive a grant from the Alberta Foundation of the Arts to create the debut album, which involved staying at the Banff Centre for three days and immersing themselves in the music.
“We wanted to remove ourselves from everyday life,” DeJong said.
Redline Trio featuring Steve Hudson features seven original tunes written by the band along with a standard. Five are originals crafted by DeJong, one song written by Sulima and a song written by Hudson.
“It a mix of straight-ahead jazz with some contemporary vibe and solid grooves,” DeJong said.
“It’s melodic playing all around.”