Ralf Buschmeyer and John Hyde interviews

By Peter Hemminger

As part of a continuing mission to keep culture alive in Calgary, the Beat Niq Jazz & Social Club will be hosting the release of Ralf Buschmeyer and John Hyde’s new disc, Manic Thematic. For a mere $20, ($25 at the door), attendees will receive a copy of the disc and be treated to some tasteful, melodic, intelligent music in a comfortable atmosphere. Sound a bit old fashioned? Buschmeyer says that’s a popular misconception.

"Jazz has the bad rep of being ‘your grandfather’s music,’" he says. "Most people are conditioned to need to hear specific things from their music. If it doesn’t sound like something they’ve been force fed by the big radio stations or their television, it is often met with resistance. Fortunately we still get enough youth that look past the obvious to keep the music progressing and keep it alive. I’m seeing more of that all of the time."

Even for those few adventurous enough to leave the club scene behind for a night, jazz can still seem frightening. Images of a beret-clad saxophonist squealing while aimless piano chords wander in the background are enough to keep the majority away from live jazz. Again, this common impression doesn’t reflect the reality.

"Uninitiated university students may find our particular brand of jazz a bit more accessible," says Buschmeyer. "John and I play with a strong emphasis on melody and swing. Whereas some other forms may be harder to follow, we could be a good way to initiate yourself into jazz."

Even if you’ve never listened to jazz, there’s no reason to fear that you won’t "get it." As with any genre, there are countless different entry points–if Coltrane left you cold, Louis Armstrong might warm you back up. Almost everyone has a unique story for how they fell in love with the genre. For Buschmeyer, the inspiration came from his dad’s LPs.

"My dad had an enormous record collection, and he had music on all the time when I was growing up," he recalls. "All kinds. I gravitated towards Rïœ|B and blues, like Booker T & the MGs or Eric Clapton. That eventually brought me around to jazz. Mostly it was just a cathartic expression I couldn’t get with nearly anything else."

So leave behind your apprehensions and join in on what could be a refreshing change of pace. These two accomplished musicians, along with guitarist Keith Smith, have prepared a night of light jazz that is intelligent enough for jazz devotees, but accessible enough for the newcomers. As Buschmayer puts it, the release will be "friends having fun, playing music they love. And hopefully people will appreciate the honesty of the music, and will help keep the live music scene alive."

Even ignoring such lofty goals, it’s sure to be an entertaining evening.

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