Montreal guitarist Sam Kirmayer started 2018 on a high note.
A few weeks into the new year, he won the Julian Award for Excellence for Emerging Canadian Artists, a prize given by Simon Fraser University’s CJSF 90.1FM to an album by a young Canadian jazz up-and-comer. Kirmayer’s 2017 debut disc, a quartet release called Opening Statement, richly deserved the recognition. For an encore, Kirmayer has climbed further still, with his new album High and Low, which finds the 28-year-old devotee of bop and swing assuredly leading an organ trio.
Kirmayer chose wisely when he picked sidemen for his new project that casts his warm tone and lyrical focus in a different setting. On drums, it was a no-brainer to play again with veteran Montreal drummer Dave Laing, who laid down the unflinching, impeccable groove on Opening Statement. “Dave has been one of my favourite musicians for a while,” says Kirmayer. “I’ve learned a lot playing with him over the last few years and he brought so much to the first CD we made together that it was never a question for me that I wanted him on this record as well.”
Hiring New York-based organist Ben Paterson on organ, a 35-year-old who demonstrates consummate taste and fire on High and Low, was more of a leap of faith. “I discovered Ben through his work with Bernstein and Bobby Broom,” Kirmayer explains. “He’s got such a great sense of swing and is a truly melodic improviser. When I found out he was a friend of a friend, I jumped at the chance to do some playing with him.”
The band prepped by playing two nights at Montreal’s lynchpin jazz venue, the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill, and then went into the studio for two days. They might have begun as two friends and an out-of-towner stranger, but the simpatico and eloquence that they’ve achieved on High and Low sound like the hallmarks of a seasoned band.
Sam Kirmayer: guitar
Ben Paterson: organ
Dave Laing: drums
Sept 19: Avalanche Bar, Courtenay, BC – presented by the Georgia Straight Jazz Society. 7:30pm.
Sept 20: All Saints by the Sea, Salt Spring Island, BC – presented by Salt Spring Jazz & Blues. 7pm.
Sept 21: Hermann’s, Victoria, BC. 8pm.
Sept 22: Osborne Bay Pub, Crofton, BC – presented by Pat’s House of Jazz. 2pm.
Sept 22: Lighthouse Bistro, Nanaimo, BC. 7:30pm.
Sept 25: Frankie’s Jazz Club, Vancouver, BC – presented by Coastal Jazz. 8pm.
Sept 26: The Nexus, Salmon Arm, BC – presented by Salmon Arm Jazz Club. 7pm.
Sept 27: Lolita’s, Calgary, AB. 7pm.
Sept 28: Yardbird Suite, Edmonton, AB. 8pm.
Sept 29: The Artesian, Regina, SK. 7pm. (Double bill w/ the Trent Reschny Group.)
Oct 1: Mardi Jazz @ Centre Culturel Franco Manitobain, Winnipeg MB, 8pm
Oct 2: Jazz Bistro, Toronto, ON. 8pm.
Oct 4: The Jazz Room, Waterloo, ON – presented by the Grand River Jazz Society. 8:30pm.
Oct 5: Dièse Onze, Montreal, QC – L’OFF JAZZ. 10pm.
Oct 6: Stewart Hall, Pointe-Claire, QC