By David Ng
The quality people most often associate with jazz is “cool,” but for all the new schoolers, jazz is “chill.” Two mainstays of the Canadian music scene, Brian Buchanan and Brent Wright, bring a passion and creative energy to bridge the old school jazz into the “chill” milieu of today.
Pianist Brian Buchanan has been involved in the Calgary scene for over 20 years with credits like Music Director for Kaos Cafe and president of Jazz Calgary. Guitarist Brent Wright is versed in both jazz and blues, and those familiar with the Vancouver blues scene may know him from the band Vaqueros. The two have been collaborating for a year and a half developing a contemporary style echoing the jazz tradition. Along with Mike Lent on bass and Sandro Dominelli on drums, this quartet provides an excellent opportunity to witness some of Canada’s best musicians.
“I just like to play good music, and I kinda look at it as being a evolutionary process. I think if you are serious about music you’ll tend to gravitate towards jazz,” Brent says on an overcast evening in the bowels of Mac Hall. “It’s earthy, you dig into it as much as you want, and the farther you go you end up with jazz, but it all comes from the roots of the blues [with] five guys getting together and making some intelligent noise.”
Brian adds, “I think it’s collaboration, that’s one thing that Brent and I have going for us, which is why it’s evolving to the point where we’re both doing some concerts. It has been a good thing, because we have spent quite a bit of time in the last year and a half working on tunes together, you know sitting down and saying what harmonic approach are we going to take to this tune.”
The culmination of their efforts will be played on a unique Mason & Hamlin 9′ Concert Grand Piano in the historic Cantos Music Room, which also is the resting place of another song-writing duo’s–Elton John and Bernie Taupin-piano. “We try to incorporate what we both do well, and we pick tunes that showcase both Brent and I, in terms of playing the melody.” Brian explains, “We’re doing a few originals of mine. Brent has some originals too, but we haven’t worked them up to that point where we’re ready to perform them, some standards, and any of the standards we’re playing have been harmonized or arranged to our own needs with intro and both interludes.”
The profound passion the duo has for music allows for their collaboration to flourish and break new creative ground. It also represents a distinct time in their musical careers. Brian relates, “I’ve probably spent more time rehearsing and collaborating with Brent than anyone else.”
Brent is also feeling the love, “I did a lot of, you know, a couple of projects with other people where I would do something like lend my voice to the CD, and I just, I didn’t really have anything to do with how it was written or what was done. Yeah, it was just like I can sing a bit, so here’s the vocal tracks fellas. So this is really cool, much more worthwhile.”
Take a well deserved break this Saturday from the tired bar scene, and soak up some “chill” jazz sophistication with the Brian Buchanan & Brent Wright Quartet with Mike Lent and Sandro Dominelli at the Cantos Music Room.