Celebrating a jazz doubleheader

Top trumpeter and gypsy jazz reimagined

Beyond Sled Island there are jazz gigs in the city. June is touring season for many jazz musicians and this year Calgary’s Jazz Is Society has partnered with organizers in Edmonton and Medicine Hat to bring two exciting acts here.

Plan to catch both shows on Friday June 24 and Saturday June 25 at the Central United Church and plan to be awed by the renowned talents of the Marc Atkinson Trio and the trumpet virtuosity of Gary Guthman. Both acts are here as a doubleheader that is billed as a Jazz Celebration.

Atkinson is first up on June 24 and the trio’s gig will be shared by the Bow Djangos in an evening they’ve called gypsy jazz. Django Reinhardt’s ghost will be in the room that night but though Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli first popularized gypsy jazz in the 1920s Atkinson’s sound is much more than a Django love-in.

“I don’t really call what I do gypsy jazz” says Atkinson “because I’m not playing Django Reinhardt’s music. But it’s definitely influenced by it because I love the sound the overall sound of the two guitars blending with bass.”

Atkinson’s trio now releasing its fourth CD has a distinct West Coast influence and has built a reputation for exhilarating performances. Each album has the same energy as the live gigs and that’s a deliberate plan. His 2000 debut was recorded live from a friend’s house and each successive offering has been captured live off the floor.

“The thing about it is that it breathes — it’s capturing an event” he says. “I’ve always believed that with that kind of music that’s the only way you’re going to capture any kind of excitement.”

Excitement also aptly describes the performance of one the world’s leading trumpeters Guthman. He’s on tour from his home base in Poland and a scant week ago he was performing on a cruise ship in the Baltic Sea. Word is this one-time Edmonton resident has just signed a recording contract with the Polish National Radio label for his upcoming release Solar Eclipse due in September. The label is reputed to be the best in Poland and following the release of the album it will receive airplay on every network station in the country. A coup for Guthman to be certain but it’s also a big treat for us as we’ll get to preview new tracks live in Calgary. To add to that the gig is backed by the Resident Artists Jazz Ensemble Jazz Is Society (RAEJIS).