The Terrain of Calgary’s jazz music scene

By David Kenney

Jazz is life for Tyler Hornby.

For someone who at first hated trumpet legend Miles Davis, that might be a surprise. But years of learning, playing and understanding jazz has Hornby a disciple to the music of cool.

Now it’s eight days a week teaching, playing, listening and cultivating jazz grooves in one form or another. Tonight, the percussionist finished a day of musical endeavours, punched a three-hour jam clock and is only now easing into "his time." For most it’s 11 p.m. and probably bedtime. For Tyler Hornby, he’s just getting started.

"You get a lot of drive when you’re doing your own artistic thing," Hornby says over the phone, amongst various PR duties.

This "thing" Hornby mentions is his gig with the local contemporary jazz group, Terrain. Through a chance meeting at, of all places, an Earthtones gig in 1998, Hornby hooked up with Terrain co-founder, guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer. Four years and one album later, the group is releasing their second CD, Time to Travel, this Friday at Mescalero. Hornby calls the groove-oriented album a continuation of their self-titled debut, delving into Latin, funk and R and B. And in true John Coltrane or Medeski, Martin and Wood style, the record is a concept album-an airplane ticket across vast musical territory.

"[Jazz is] a music based on improvisation and that’s what we gear ourselves towards," says Hornby, also a University of Calgary sessional instructor. "It’s not like I’m some guy who hits things fast and loud just because I can. I hit it with a musical purpose."

Such purpose filled Hornby at age five. His musical kindergarten occurred with home practices with his dad and then his brother’s band. Next it was his turn. Years of grade school practices brought him to the U of C. There, he played his way to a BA in Music in the now defunct Jazz Studies program.

Nowadays, you can catch Hornby at any number of shows, backing up a variety of musicians or hosting jazz sessions. Still, it’s writing and performing the Terrain originals that really gets him.

"We do jazz music, but it’s definitely fresh," Hornby stresses, noting that to truly experience Terrain is to see them live. "It’ll be music they can sink their teeth into," he says. "You cannot repeat the experience."

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