KITCHENER — The sounds of Snarky Puppy mixed with late-career Miles Davis will be heard Friday night at the Boathouse when the Toronto-based jazz-fusion sensation Snaggle takes to the stage.
“We try and create this genre blurring sound taking influences from funk, from R&B, from metal, there is a little bit of classical music in there, and interpret it within a jazz context, in the jazz background and training that all the members have,” bandleader Nick MacLean says in an interview.
The Saturday show is also a CD launch party for the band’s second recording, “The Long Slog,” which was released earlier this month on the Browntasaurus Records. You can check it out at www.snagglemusic.com.
“We’ve often been described as Canada’s answer to Snarky Puppy, and sometimes we use the analogy of Electric Era Miles meets Rage Against the Machine,” Maclean says.
This music is a joyous, raucous and danceable. It is not from the sit-in-your-chair-and-listen school of jazz. Snaggle was formed in MacLean’s’ final year in the highly-regarded jazz program at Humber College.
The Friday night show at The Boathouse starts at 9 p.m. and runs to midnight. The cover is $10, or $15 with a CD.
With the release of The Long Slog just three years after graduating, MacLean has led the band into new, sonic territory. With straight-ahead roots, the tracks soon branch and blossom into a 21st Century sound like no other.
“It is absolutely fantastic,” MacLean says.
The Long Slog was produced by Brownman Ali, and recorded on his label in Toronto. Brownman plays on two tracks. He will be joining Snaggle for the Friday day night show at the Boathouse.
Opening for Snaggle is Ryan Cassidy, a tenor sax player, composer and recording artist based in Kitchener who released his first CD — At Street Level — a few months ago. Brownman also plays on that CD, and will play with Cassidy at the Boathouse show as well.
“For the KW show a local, fantastic saxophone player named Ryan Cassidy and his band are going to be opening for us,” MacLean says.
“He is coming from a similar kind of place — jazz influenced by rock, R&B, soul,” MacLean says. “So that is going to be a lot of fun.”
Brownman was described by the Village Voice as the best modern jazz trumpet player in Canada. He has played The Jazz Room and the Boathouse before. With a large array of pedals at his feet, Brownman plays an electric trumpet that fuses everything from hip-hop, RB, straight-ahead jazz, electronica and deejay turntables.
For 15 years Brown was in and out of New York City where he studied jazz trumpet under the Grammy-Award winning Randy Brecker. He founded his Toronto-label to help young musicians bring their new sounds to market, while staying in control of the creative process.
That label and studio are a cauldron of musical creativity, and the fruits will be on stage Friday night at the Boathouse. MacLean met Brown through the Toronto big band Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School.
“I got him to sub in on a Snaggle gig in February 2015 and he really dug the music,” MacLean says. “And he said: ‘If you guys are making a record I would really like to produce.’ And of course, I jumped at that.”
MacLean loved working with Brownman.
"The man has so much experience in the industry and he's such a phenomenal player," MacLean says. "We hold a lot of the same values. So working with him on the project was an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned a great deal about the process of creating an album. He really bought out the best version of ourselves during the project."
Snaggle played two gigs during the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival in July. It hosted the jazz festival jam at The Jazz Room, and played the main stage the next day. MacLean wants to do the same thing next summer with The Long Slog.
"I really enjoyed writing for this project, I really enjoyed leading it. The musicians in it are an absolutely a blast to work with. They are all fantastic players. Where are we hoping to go next with this album? We are hoping to take it across the country on the festival circuit next summer," MacLean says.
Brown sent a copy of The Long Slog to his old teacher and mentor, the Grammy Award winning Brecker. Brecker’s thoughts: “Reminds me of a band I used to play in.”
Snaggle is: MacLean on keyboards, Graeme Wallace on tenor sax, Max Forster on Trumpet, Michael Murray on guitar, Doug Moore on bass and Tom Grosset on drums
"The incarnation of Snaggle with Max and Mike has definitely been my favourite one so far," MacLean says. "The two guys add so much to the project. Mike, he has an incredible breadth of influences in his playing, there is a lot of metal in there, as well as jazz influences. And Max has an incredible rhythmic sense to his trumpet playing, so it fits right in."