Spotlight on Nature Of

Our 2019 Artist Spotlight is a week away! Monday, April 8th, we will be celebrating all our amazing artist and releases! There’s still time to reserve your tickets and admission is free! We’ve already heard from two of our three performers, Kevin Dean and The Obsessions Octet. Last but not least, we caught up with Nature of, and got some insight into their upcoming release!

In 2011, a collaboration of friends and musicians within the Edmonton skateboard community became Nature Of. Since their assembly, the five-piece band has been writing music together while constantly evolving and developing a unique and organic sound. Since their first live performance, Steven Schneider, Cole Switzer, Kyla Rankine and Sydney Leard have been seen at venues all around their hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. For seven years, the musicians in Nature Of have given thoughtful effort to crafting their songs and performances. In June of 2013, the band released their debut full length self-titled album. It was recorded over a month-long period at Riverdale Recorders in Edmonton with Juno Nominated Producer Scott Franchuk. The 10-song album was listed as one of the top 10 Edmonton records of 2014 by, and served as a benchmark contribution to the band receiving a $10,000 grant through Alberta Foundation for the Arts to be used for the recording of their second full length record. The album Cherish is completed and is now available worldwide. With three cross-Canada tours under their belt, the group is steadily asserting itself as a contender in music communities both in Alberta and across the country. With their honest music and modest attitude, Nature Of is sure to continue progressing and inspiring for years to come.

1. Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward too most?

We are excited for the opportunity to perform onstage at the Triffo Theatre. It will be a refreshing change from our usual scenery of bars and nightclubs!

2. What can you tell us about your new project with Bent River Records?

For over a year, we have been working on a new full-length record, The Mean, with Marcus Paquin and Paul Johnston. Recording took place over the course of 2018 at MacEwan’s Studio A, which was a super fun and enlightening process. Paul and Marcus both brought so much to the table and really helped shape the sound of the record into something special. We are beyond stoked to be releasing the album this June!

3. What is your process as a band when writing and/or performing your music?

Above all, our approach to making music is one of collaboration. We like to spend as much time playing together as possible, working through ideas and shaping each song as a collective. And also just hanging out and doing things together, musical and non-musical.

4. Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while working on your new album?

Much of this album came from a desire to explore new sounds and ideas, while still remaining authentic to the music that we have made in the past. While we didn’t reference any specific records or artists, our love of The National made for very easy collaboration with Marcus Paquin, who worked with them on Trouble Will Find Me.

5. What is your favorite moment together as a band?

Any time we get to spend together, on stage or in the studio or just hanging out. It’s a real treat to be able to make music with your friends!

Spotlight on Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet

Bent River Records is amping up for our 2019 Artist Spotlight, Monday, April 8th, where we will be celebrating all our amazing artist and releases! This year we have three of our artist showcasing selections from their latest projects! Last week we caught up with Kevin Dean and this week we managed to catch up Kent Sangster from the Obsessions Octet!

The Obsessions Octet, led by Juno Nominated saxophonist and composer Kent Sangster, has travelled throughout the world performing their blend of classical, tango, and jazz repertoire. The group’s first album, Obsession, won the WCMA for Best Jazz Recording of the Year and received a Juno nomination. Most notably, they have performed in New York City at Carnegie Hall in 2012 (which was recognized with a City of Edmonton Salute to Excellence Performance Award) and went on their first European Tour in 2014, which resulted in many outstanding reviews. With a solid reputation in the music community and a devoted fan-base, the Obsessions Octet is now one of the most popular musical ensembles in Edmonton.

1. Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward too most?

Performing live with the Obsessions Octet, every performance is a blessing to be able to share original music in front of an appreciative audience.

2. What is your favorite track of your 4th album, “Reverence”?

“Walking By Flashlight”

3. What is your process as a band when writing and/or performing your music?

Composing for this group only happens when I have a deadline for a recording or live performance opportunity that I want to make the most out of.

4. Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while working on your new album?

Not really, I am somewhat reluctant to listen to other music so I am not steered musically in a specific direction based on the influence of another artist.

5. What is your favorite moment together as a band?

On tour with the band on the Island of Syros Greece performing at the Apollo Theatre, close second was performing at Carnegie Hall is New York City.

Spotlight on Kevin Dean

Our 2019 Artist Spotlight is getting closer and closer! On April 8th, we will be celebrating all our amazing artists and releases! This year we have three of our artists showcasing selections from their latest projects. We thought we’d catch up with one of our Spotlight performers, Kevin Dean.

Trumpeter Kevin Dean is a Professor of Music (Jazz Studies) at the Schulich School of Music,McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. Kevin grew up on the plains of America and dreamed of one day being a cowboy. As sometimes happens when people age, they are attracted to the music they heard early in life which lead to his new cowboy jazz album, Sunset Trail. Dean co-founded the Jazz Association of Montreal and serves as their first president. He developed the first Jazz curriculum at McGill and is featured on over thirty CD’s, including twelve with his original music. Kevin has performed in concert and recorded with numerous well-known jazz artists including Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson and Barry Harris.

1. Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward too most?

I´m very excited and looking forward to connecting with old friends in Edmonton. Paul Johnston, PJ Perry etc!

2. What is your favorite track on your new Album, “Sunset Trail”?

I think “Empty Saddles” is a lovely tune by Billy Hill and it came out nicely, Its from the 1936 movie Rhythm on the Range..starring believe it or not. Bing Crosby as a cowboy!! absurd! Google Bing Crosby Empty Saddles and you will see why..

..Also from the same film there  the lovely tune by Gertrude Ross, “Roundup Lullaby” which is performed as a duet  on the LP with Gabriel Lambert and Marie Fatima Rudolf. The rendition in the film with Bing and Frances Farmer and a huge bull in a barn is completely ridiculous..but the tune is fantastic. I am also fond of “Moon of Mañana” which is virtually unheard of..from the 1939 Gene Autry film, South of the Border.

“The Banks of the Sunny San Juan” is also a great old song with a very old fashioned melody with lots of dramatic wide leaps and Jean-Michel Pilc´s whistling is brilliant. All this to say I guess I like all the tunes! I´m not sure I have a real favourite.

3. What is your process when writing and/or performing your music?

Well, this is the first album I have done where I don´t play my own music. With the exception of my composition “Cowboy´s Last Waltz,” all the songs are by other people, so I just listened to a lot of music, hundreds of songs really and took notes regarding the ones I liked and how they might be arranged. We actually recorded 15 numbers and I picked what I thought were the best ones to fit the time restrictions of the vinyl.

Normally I lead a jazz group..usually a quartet or quintet and I usually compose at the piano or just in my mind and then write it down at the piano or with my horn in hand.

4. Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while working on your new album?

I would to say that the most interesting discovery was composer/vocalist Bob Nolan and the group he is mostly associated with, The Sons of the Pioneers. He was a great songwriter and that group was amazing. They sang mostly in 3 part harmony (but sometimes up to 5 part) and they all had quite distinctive voices so the particular blend of those voices is very unique. The also had a very long and successful period from the mid 30´s and into the 60´s with new personnel. They recorded constantly and were on the road, the radio and in movies too. Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer were the main composers and were very prolific. I also like gene Autry´s sort of easy going untrained style of singing. He was hugely influenced by Jimmy Rogers and for the first few years of his career sounded very much like him.

5. What is your favorite childhood memory?

That’s a tough one..probably getting ice cream at the town ice cream store: Birdsalls, which still exists.

My favorite musical memories would be when my uncle Allan (trumpet) and Gerald (piano/sax) would come home for Christmas or something and have a family jam session. My dad would play bass.

Stay tuned for more from our artists! For free tickets to our 2019 Artist Spotlight, Monday, April 8th, Click here.

Nature Of’s “The Mean” Official Cover Selection

We have some exciting news about Nature Of’s upcoming release!

As a way to promote student involvement, we collaborated with Constanza Pacher’s Typography II classes for the design of the cover art and album packaging for Nature Of’s new record, The Mean.

Members of Nature Of and the Bent River Records team went in to discuss the album’s themes with the students, but the project was left open to interpretation, resulting in a wide range of fantastic original concepts. In the end, the band had 39 different versions to choose from (no easy task)!

After weeks of deliberation, Nature Of narrowed it down to their top five choices, and decided the best fit for The Mean was the concept created by second year design student, Cam Zimmel. Congratulations, Cam!

Design by Cam Zimmel

“It was a super enjoyable experience getting a little taste of what ‘real world client work’ could look like in the future. I’m really glad we have the resources available at MacEwan to do collaborations like this. Everyone in both sections of the course did an absolutely killer job of giving the band their best visual interpretation of the music. I think it really was anyone’s game, but I’m honoured to have been chosen by Nature Of after what sounded like a pretty painstaking decision process. I can’t wait to see the cover printed and grab a copy of the vinyl to listen to!!”

— Cam Zimmel

And if you want to grab your own copy of the album, come see Nature Of perform, along with Kevin Dean and The Big City Wranglers, and Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet, at our 2019 Artist Spotlight on Monday, April 8th.

Check out the designs from our four runners-up below!

Concepts by (top left to bottom right)
Logann Fitt, Jenelle LeBlanc, Hannah Reaper, Keira Zanbak

A Night with Kate Blechinger: Special Pop-up Event

You’re invited to our Special Pop-up Event featuring Kate Blechinger at Towers on Fourth, Tuesday, March 26th!

Can you believe that Bent River Record’s Artist Spotlight is less than a month away?! Monday, April 8th, we will be featuring three of our Bent River artists in a night filled with brilliant music and musicianship. To start off the celebrations we are holding an Pop-up event at MacEwan’s Towers on Fourth from 6pm- 8pm on March 26th!

Kate Blechinger, our featured artist, accompanied by Kyle White, will be playing two sets showcasing music from her new album, Under a Dancing Sky. Kate is an inventive and charismatic vocalist, composer and arranger. Her “Jazz” is the musical equivalent of an artist’s palette, and is definitely a hybrid of sorts; she pairs the harmony, instrumentation and improvisation of more traditional jazz forms with the lyricism of modern jazz and folk genres. What results is personal, poetic, and playful- and one that involves audiences in a truly eclectic musical journey.

Come down to Towers on Fourth to enjoy the talented Kate Blechinger, meet the Bent River team, and enjoy some excellent food and drinks!

We would love if you could join us!

Towers on Fourth Pub:
Grant MacEwan University 6-101,
Edmonton, AB T5J 2B7

Jean-Michel Pilc in Edmonton

Be on the lookout for Jean-Michel Pilc this month! He will be in Edmonton Friday, March 15th for a Jazz Improvisation masterclass at MacEwan University and will also be performing a solo piano set at the Yardbird Suite, Saturday, March 16th from 8 pm – 10 pm!

Jean-Michel Pilc is praised for his improvisations. Pianist and composer Jean-Michel Pilc has performed with numerous jazz giants including Roy Haynes, Billy Hart, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Jean Toussaint, Marcus Miller, John Abercrombie, and the Mingus Dynasty & Big Band, among others. He also worked with Harry Belafonte as his musical director and pianist and performed a duet with the legendary opera singer Jessye Norman. Originally from France, Pilc moved to New York in 1995 where he established himself as an active performer. Jean-Michel has released four critically-acclaimed solo piano records: Follow Me (2004), Essential (2011), What Is This Thing Called? (2015), and his most recent solo double CD Parallel (2018). In addition, he regularly performs in a trio with both Montreal and New York City-based ensembles including Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig which performed at the Yardbird Suite in 2015. A dedicated educator, Jean-Michel founded the Improvisation Workshop Project with Rémi Bolduc, Kevin Dean and Jean-Nicolas Trottier, an educational research project funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FRQSC). In September 2015, he was named Associate Professor at The Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal.

Pilc’s masterclass is centred around his book It’s About Music: The Art and Heart of Improvisation. Jean-Michel’s workshops are based off the expressive aspects of improvisation. He bases his teachings off the premise that originality in art is a matter of expressing one’s own uniqueness.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from a masterful improviser and musician, Friday, March 15th at MacEwan University and be sure to see him live in action Saturday, March 16th at the Yardbird suite!

Tickets are $26, and $22 for EJS members, plus applicable fees.

Get your tickets here:

Get your copy of his book here:


Marcus Paquin and the Creation of Nature Of’s Album

We can’t believe a year has gone by since Marcus Paquin was in-studio and we were tracking for the Nature Of record! It was such an incredible experience for our team and the students who got the opportunity to get involved and learn from Marcus. Bent River Records prides itself in being a learning lab for faculty and students, and bringing in another brilliant mind such as Marcus to work with Nature Of and our students was such an extraordinary opportunity, and something we will never forget!

This time last year, the beds for 2 songs of Nature Of songs were being tracked and we had just begun overdubs. Now a year later, the project has come full circle and Nature of is getting ready to preview their record at our Artist Spotlight on April 8th. The release of the album will be later on this year, and audiences at the Spotlight will have an exclusive look at the album, and will be able to purchase it prior to its release! Time flies when you’re having fun!  

In celebration, we caught up with Marcus and asked him to recap his experience with the band and what he has been up to lately!

1. What did you enjoy most when working with Nature Of and Bent River Records on this project?

It was a real pleasure working with such open minded and creative musicians and of course with Paul Johnston and the staff at Bent River records.

Nature Of have a unique and organic approach to making music that I relate to deeply so it was really fun to listen to the songs move from demo mode to completion; it’s a very deep record.

Of course it’s always a joy to work with my old friend Paul Johnston. Paul is a very talented and accomplished musician as well as being an intelligent and sensitive recording engineer. Our skill sets are very complementary so I really hope to do more work together in the future.

2. What was your process for recording this project?

The first thing I do when working with a band is to discuss their own thoughts about their music (strengths/weaknesses) and their influences. If they’ve got a certain sound or aesthetic in mind, that will influence how I operate from both a technical and artistic standpoint.

As a producer, one of the most important things for me to keep in mind is that I’m there to help the artist I’m working with realize their vision. I may have creative input in a project but the artist always has the final say.

Paul and I have similar technical approaches to recording because we studied together at the McGill tone Meister recording program so there wasn’t too much deliberation from a technical standpoint; a bit of microphone talk and that was it.

From an aesthetic standpoint, we all agreed that the focal point of this music is the voice, so we went about framing the vocal in a way that best complemented Steves lyrics and performances.

We discussed that preserving a certain raw and paired down element to the Nature Of record would be very important. This involved using room mics on many of the elements we recorded, favoring vintage instruments, amplifiers, microphones and preamps. We also made sure the arrangements didn’t get to dense or overwhelm the lead vocal.

3.  Any memorable moments from the studio or working with Nature Of/ Bent River Records?

All the people involved in this project from the band to the staff and to the students were enthusiastic, driven, and excited to make something truly special. For me, adopting a “yes and” attitude is crucial to making something unique and all parties involved were on board… that’s what always makes the most memorable recordings.

4. What projects are you looking forward to this year?

This is going to be a really fun year indeed.
I’m currently working on the new Little Scream record.
I recently finished Tim Baker’s (Of Hey Rosetta) solo record that will be coming out this year.
I worked on the new Begonia record that will also be coming out this year.
I’ve been writing new material for a yet to be named project of my own that I’m very excited about.
And I’m starting a couple of top secret projects this spring… stay tuned!

What our artist’s have been up to…

Hello! Our artists have been up to some amazing things this year from recording new albums to playing some incredible shows! We thought we’d fill you on what one of our artists has been up to since her big release with Bent River Records back in 2017.

Mallory Chipman has had a world of success since her release of Rags and Feathers: A tribute to Leonard Cohen. It was celebrated with a western Canadian tour and had amazing media and audience response. Arranger and composer, Mallory is working on her new album Aquarian set to release this year!

MALLORY CHIPMAN — Rags and Feathers

“Chipman’s voice is as far removed from Cohen’s flat baritone as you can imagine, in the register and the way her nimble vocal cords dance out of the ether to explore a dynamic range in ways he didn’t or couldn’t. Her scat vocabulary nails it, and the audio keeps things warm and intimate as Chris Andrew’s keyboards, Brett Hansen’s guitar, Murray Wood’s bass and Jamie Cooper’s cleverly choppy drums set up exquisite backdrops, adding exotic seasoning from Cameron O’Neill’s percussion.” —The Edmonton Journal

We sat down and asked her a few questions on what she’s been up to since the release of Rags and Feathers and got the inside scoop on what to expect from her this year:

1. What have you been up to since your release of Rags and Feathers? What’s an event, show, or experience that you’ve been most excited about?

Since Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen came out about a year and a half ago now (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I’ve been keeping busy with a variety of shows, collaborations, and other creative works. What I’ve been most excited about; however, has been the songwriting I’ve been doing. With Rags and Feathers being a tribute album, I mainly was working on arranging for that record, with only a small focus on original material, but after the release of that album I promised myself that I would get back into writing more original music. One of the highlights of this past year was when I went out to Moose Farm Studios, a recording studio in rural Alberta, for a songwriting retreat. I hardly spoke to a single person while I was out there, and truly just set aside quality time for me and the piano. It was an extremely rewarding experience, and I came out with a handful of brand new tunes of which I’m very proud!

2. Where can we see you live in 2019?

One upcoming show I’m particularly looking forward to is a feature with the Cosmopolitan Jazz Orchestra on March 16 at the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre. I’ll be performing some original compositions of mine with the big band, and that doesn’t happen too often!

Additionally, on the following night, March 17, I’ll be performing with Jens Lindemann at the Yardbird Suite for A Tribute to Nat King Cole, which will be a really special concert. Tickets will be on sale soon through Tix on the Square.

3. What are you looking forward to this year?

This year I’m really looking forward to a variety of musical endeavours, but I’m over-the-moon excited about my upcoming trip to New Orleans! I should clarify – this is not a work trip, which, honestly, is kind of nice for a change. This summer, my husband, Brett, and I are travelling to NOLA to get some much needed R & R and listen to a variety of music in the birthplace of jazz, and I can’t wait!

4. Any new projects or events in the works?

2019 is turning out to be a year overflowing with fun musical projects. Two friends and peers of mine are releasing albums this year that I was so fortunate to be a part of: Concealment, the debut album from Edmonton jazz pianist Stephanie Urquhart, and Bloodless Arches by Ways in Waves, the art-rock brainchild of composer, producer, and guitarist, Brian Raine. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to see both of those records being released into the world this year! Additionally, I am working on my own album, projected to be released within the next year or so. This album, titled AQUARIAN, will feature the tunes that I wrote at Moose Farm Studios as well as a couple of others that I’m really excited about. It fuses rock, prog, folk, and jazz influences for a sound I truly believe will reflect my musical soul more authentically than any record I’ve done yet.

Check out Mallory Chipman’s Album “Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen” here!


You won’t want to miss the Bent River Records 2019 Artist Spotlight on Monday, April 8th at the Triffo Theater in Allard Hall!

Last year’s spotlight was filled with incredible music from BRR Artists Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters, Joshua Rager Nonet, and Mallory Chipman. We cannot wait to show you what our Artists have been up to this year!

This year’s showcase will feature three of Bent River Records’ artists. Obsessions Octet, led by Juno nominated Kent Sangster, will be jazzing up the stage with their spin on classical and tango music. Montreal based Trumpeter, Kevin Dean, will be gracing the stage with The Big City Wranglers, playing selections from his upcoming release. And last but not least, Nature Of will be releasing and playing selections from their brand new album!  

This is a night you will not want to miss!

Thank you to everyone who came out to the event last year and made the night such a huge success! We hope to see you again at this year’s Spotlight!

Here is a flashback to the 2018 Artist Spotlight:

Mallory Chipman
Joshua Rager Nonet
Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters

Spotlight on RJ LeBlanc

Great news! Bent River Records artist Rémi-Jean LeBlanc will be in town this Friday, January 18th playing with JUNO Award nominee and Canadian Jazz Vocalist Carol Welsman at Festival in Sherwood Park.

Rémi-Jean LeBlanc has been based in Montreal since 2002 and for the last 10 years has been in the forefront of the Montreal jazz scene. LeBlanc has played and toured with a variety of fixtures from Quebec, including Steve Amirault, Elizabeth Shepherd, Jean-Pierre Zanella, Yannick Rieu, Jean-Michel Pilc, Marianne Trudel, Rafael Zaldivar, and l’Orchestre national de jazz, to name a few.

Rémi-Jean LeBlanc released an Album in 2018 with Bent River Records titled Déductions which was a project that brought together 4 musicians from completely different backgrounds. With Cuban pianist, Rafael Zaldivar, Montreal Rock drummer, Samuel Joly and New York jazz guitarist, Nir Felder, the album Déductions has a driving fresh rock edge that exhales maturity and sensitivity.  

We took the time to ask him a couple questions about his music career to date:

1. What was your biggest inspiration for Déductions?

The biggest influences were the rock albums that I listened to in the last few years. There’s no one influence really. One of them is actually the album of the guitarist who plays on it, Nir Felder, the album is called Golden Age. Rock got mixed up with some Kendrick Lamar and Miles’s sixties quintet and Gretchen Parlato a ton of other stuff and that’s what came out.

2. Who Inspired you to become a musician?

I was pretty passionate about music from the time I started playing bass at age 11. One person who particularly helped me out and pushed me into jazz and consequently to become a musician is a trumpet player from Moncton, NB named Roland Bourgeois.

3. What is your process when writing and performing?

Writing and performing are two very different things. The writing process is best described as a bunch of ideas that are reworked for years and eventually pieced together to make songs. Essentially, performing is sort of a meditation for me, I try to detach myself from the technical stuff, listen to the music and try let myself be taken by the current.

4. What are you most proud of within your music career?

I’m proud that I work and play exclusively with people and projects that I like and believe in and I can make a living doing this! I’m a very privileged person.

Catch Rémi-Jean LeBlanc backing Carol Welsman on Friday, January 18th at Festival Place in Sherwood Park.

Showtime is 7:30 pm and you can purchase your tickets here: