The Redline Trio bring Canadian jazz great Brad Turner to Calgary to help them get noisy in Betty Lou’s Library


But not necessarily quietly.

And if you do want to chat, you certainly won’t get shushed.

Not even from the band onstage.

Not if it’s a Thursday night and you find yourself in the low-lit and cozy confines of 17th Ave. speakeasy Betty Lou’s Library.

No, the three local jazz monsters who make up The Redline Trio — sax player Mark DeJong, drummer Jeffery Sulima and bassist Simon Fisk — know that they’re simply part of the complete picture that makes up a night out at Betty Lou’s.

Some come to hear, some come to be.

“I’d say it’s 50-50,” Sulima says sitting beside DeJong over a pint at the Wild Rose Taproom, before acknowledging he and his bandmates are more than fine with that. “I think it’s our job to pull them in at that point. If they just came to drink or to have the experience, we’re part of the experience. They can hang out if they want and if they want to get involved in the music, that’s definitely there for them.

“I feel like it’s a good triumvirate of experience for people,” says DeJong. “They like the fact that there’s no big-screen TV, they like that it’s a classy—”

Sulima interjects. “It’s a good what?”

“Triumvirate. Not bad, eh,” DeJong says with a laugh. “I’ve been waiting for seven years to use that word and I finally found the context where it made sense.”

He continues. “No, it’s got that atmosphere that’s really great, they do a very good job with cocktails … and I think the music just works perfectly in that room.”

Apparently. They’ve been doing weekly it for more than a year now, making it a staple on the Calgary jazz calendar, providing that tasty, tasteful music from back in the day.

After being approached by the club’s owner Blaine Armstrong about doing a regular jazz night, the pair kicked it off in March of 2017 originally on Tuesday nights and with a different bassist, before eventually moving to the unofficial first night of the weekend.

“It’s more consistent,” says DeJong of the switch. “We haven’t had a quiet night in a long time.”

And, again, both of them admit that quiet on the sonic scale isn’t something they necessarily care about.

In fact, while there are seats right in front of them where people can soak up the sounds in a more focussed manner, they’re also not catering specifically to the jazz heads of the city or trying to impress that crowd.

They love the fact that they have complete autonomy on Thursday nights, can take some chances, maybe turn some people onto the music in a more passive manner and, selfishly, push themselves as musicians and further define The Redline Trio as an act.

“We get to really explore under our own terms, which is the best of what a jazz gig should be,” says DeJong.

“I think what we’re somewhat sneakily doing is we’re doing what we want to do and developing that concept and that sound without … pandering. We’re not pandering. It’s not like we don’t care what people think, but we’re not making our decisions moment by moment, tune by tune, night by night based on what we think people will like. We’re more interested in developing the sound of the band and exploring in that way.

“And keeping that in mind, unless you’re a jazz aficionado I think most people don’t want to sit and listen to every minutia that comes out, because there’s a lot going on.”

There should be a great deal more going on Thursday, Sept. 20 when they bring in a special guest for their regular evening, with a bonus night of Wednesday, Sept. 19 and, should you be up in Canmore, Tuesday, Sept. 18 at the artsPlace.

The band are flying in from the West Coast famed multiple-Juno-winning musician, composer and educator Brad Turner.

True, they used to have guest vocalists with them on the odd occasion, but, because they didn’t want to merely be seen as or play the role of backup for other performers, they stopped that practise.

In this case, though, they don’t mind being relegated to the backing band. They’ll perform an evening, or evenings, of Turner’s work, while he plays piano and trumpet.

“The reason we’re bringing Brad out is is he’s a great musician and it’s a great opportunity to play his music,” DeJong says. “And it’s a great chance for us to mix it up and play with a known entity. And he’s an important entity.”

As to what the jazz newbies in Betty Lou’s can expect, Sulima, who was taught by Turner and used to go see the elder musician perform his own regular night’s in Vancouver, sums it up nicely: “His music is very intense and very pretty. And I would say he’s a virtuoso.”

They admit that if it makes sense and it suits their sound, perhaps down the road they may welcome other guests into The Redline Trio’s weekly evenings.

But for the most part they’re just happy to be part of the Betty Lou’s complete Thursday experience.

“Honestly, man,” DeJong says, “there’s not too many places I would rather play.”

Brad Turner plays with The Redline Trio Tuesday in Canmore at the artsPlace on Tuesday and on Wednesday, Sept. 19 and Thursday, Sept. 20 at Betty Lou’s Library. For reservations please click here