Jazzing up jazz 

Bassist Brandi Disterheft returns to jazz’s roots of party, dancing music

By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: Mingus to Björk

Who: Brandi Disterheft

When: Wednesday, June 27, 8 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: $19/$17/$10

Jazz bassist Brandi Disterheft gets back to the roots of jazz by putting the party and dancing into a genre too often intellectualized. Her music pays tribute to classics such as Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus works from the 1950s as well as revolutionaries such as Icelandic musician Björk, to whom Disterheft dedicated her first album.

“She was quite an innovator; doing her own thing,” Disterheft said. “She is totally different than all other artists. The melodies she writes are so beautiful and it sticks in your head. It’s different, but it really moves people.”

The same may be said of this budding Toronto artist who sets off on a national tour promoting her new album this month, stopping over in Whistler for one night, with Mingus to Björk on Wednesday, June 27 at MY Millennium Place.

“My new album is all original music,” she said. “It covers contemporary jazz mixed with old school jazz of the ’50s and ’60s, and then there is uppity dancing music.”

This get-up-and-dance kind of music is what really sets Disterheft’s music apart from the traditionally brooding jazz meanderings. Like Björk, Disterheft switches up styles and genres, from Brazilian-pop rhythms to traditional jazz.

“Jazz was traditionally party music,” she said. “Now it seems like it has become more of an intellectual thing. Sometimes people are scared of it because of that. I like the old school approach where everyone is having a good time.”

Disterheft has racked up countless good times at jazz festivals in Europe and North America. The award-winning musician has played everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, where she opened for Diana Krall. Her passion for music came from growing up listening to her mother on the piano.

The mid-twenties talent has worked in bands since she was 19 years old, but now she is at the helm of her own adventure: her first tour.

“Usually in the past I’ve done touring as a side band in Japan, China, Canada and Europe, but this is my first venture as a band leader; I am really excited about it,” she said. “Because I’ve worked with other people through their bands, I’ve been able to watch and learn a lot. I picked up some tricks along the way.”

Michael Kaeshammer was one of those people who impacted her sound, most notably as producer of Debut .

The album’s instrumentalization runs the gamut from piano to Spanish castanets; however, her live performance is paired down to an intimate chord-less trio with Disterheft on bass, Chris Gale on saxophone and Sly Juhas on drums.

“Traditionally, there is guitar and piano players to provide the chords but we are a chord-less trio, which makes it really interesting and fun, providing different textures,” she said.

The Ontario musician is part of MY Millennium Place’s Real Canadian Series, a program celebrating Canada’s soul through performing and visual arts, cultural activities and inspirational events.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for students/seniors and $10 for children.

For tickets, call 604-935-8410 or visit ticketmaster.ca.

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