Back to School with Bent River Records!

Welcome back, friends and fans! We know it’s been a minute since you’ve heard from us on our blog, but we’re back more inspired than ever after an action-packed couple of months! Our artists spent this summer recording new music for your ears and touring music festivals throughout Canada and Europe, spreading the Bent River name across the globe. Even though summer is drawing to a close, Bent River Records is cooking up some really hot projects this year to keep you warm through the winter.

Bent River Records Recording Competition winner, Nature Of, is releasing their forthcoming album in 2019 after an incredible year working with BRR’s own Paul Johnston and Montreal-based Marcus Paquin; Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet is launching a new record; and trumpeter/organist extraordinaire, Kevin Dean, will be teaming up with Bent River Records for a brand new record…and, without giving too much away, let’s just say that there will be vinyl involved 😉

As always Bent River Records will be hosting our annual Artist Spotlight to celebrate the new albums on the label this year, so save the date for Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 and stay tuned for details about the show!

2018 Artist Spotlight

On April 17th, we gathered in the Triffo Theatre to celebrate the 2017/2018 successes of Bent River Records!

The evening consisted of a reception with food, beverages, a table to purchase Bent River Records merchandise, and a photobooth station! There were three wonderful performances by Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters (Stillness Falls), Josh Rager (Jondo), and Mallory Chipman (Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen), who all performed tunes from their latest releases on Bent River Records.

The winners of last year’s competition – Nature Of – joined the emcees on stage, and endearingly discussed working with Paul Johnston and Marcus Paquin (and hilariously compared their relationship to two parents). Marcus sent his well wishes via video message from Montréal, and then our team here at Bent River Records held an after-party in the atrium. We could not have pulled this night off without the support of everyone who was involved – and we want to share our sincerest thank-you’s! We are all looking forward to the next year, and we can’t wait for you to see what is to come!

Spotlight Artist: Mallory Chipman

Our April 17th Spotlight is just a few days away! Our final artist that is performing this Tuesday is Mallory Chipman. We talked with her about her release Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen. Take a peek and catch Mallory at our Spotlight in the Triffo tomorrow!

Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward to most?

Of course I’m excited! Last year’s Artist Spotlight was one of the highlights of my year, and I can’t wait for what is to come this time around – especially in the new building! I’m really looking forward to performing in the beautiful state of the art Triffo Theatre alongside my incredibly talented labelmates, Chandelle Rimmer & Tom Van Seters and Joshua Rager. There’s nothing quite as special as being in great company.

Do you have a favourite tune on your record, if so – why is it your favourite?

Funnily enough, my own composition “Tune for the Troubadour” turned out to be my favourite song on my album, Rags and Feathers: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen. I only find it funny because this record is a tribute album to one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Leonard Cohen. While I don’t believe that any of my original tunes could rival his in any way compositionally, “Tune for the Troubadour” acts as my love letter to the work and legacy of Cohen himself, thus I believe its truly emblematic of the entire record as a whole.

What is your process as an artist when writing and/or performing your music?

Gosh, that’s a hard question. Every composition comes to me differently – sometimes it’s melody first, sometimes the lyrics flow as poetry years before I’ve added anything musical to them, and sometimes I find myself jamming at the piano playing with different progressions, and then the harmony establishes itself as the initial piece. The common thread between these different processes is that they never occur when I plan to sit down and write a tune. Inspiration for composition always comes when I’m doing something else; walking my dogs, having a shower, getting groceries, you name it!

Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while making this record?

Well, in the case of this specific record, the answer to this question is quite obvious. Rags and Feathers is a tribute album to Canadian icon, Leonard Cohen. Throughout the process of making this album, Leonard’s thoughtful lyricism and the fearless attitude that seems to permeate his music inspired me and pushed me to write and perform with a musical confidence I had never explored before.

What is your favourite Netflix show to binge watch?

The Mindy Project, hands down! I’m quite certain that Morgan Tookers is my alter ego.

Spotlight Artist: Joshua Rager

Joshua Rager is a Montreal-based jazz musician. His album Jondo was released this year with Bent River Records, and he is another artist that is performing at the 2018 Bent River Records Artist Spotlight! Here is our interview with Joshua so you can get to know him a little more!

Are you excited for the Spotlight, and what are you looking forward to most?

Yes!! What an unbelievable opportunity I’m being given by Bent River Records to perform my music with a hand picked group of some of Edmonton’s finest musicians. I can’t wait to hear these great players perform my music and it will be interesting to hear their unique interpretation of it. Of course it’s also a great chance for my music to gain exposure to an audience in western Canada. There is a lot of energy coming out of Grant MacEwan these days and it’s a pleasure to get invited to the hub of all this great music.

Do you have a favourite tune on your record, if so – why is it your favourite? 

I must say that I do not have a favourite tune on the record. When you write and arrange music, your pieces become almost like little children, each with their own personalities and quirks and as parents we learn to celebrate them all and accept their shortcomings, their strengths and weaknesses. There is some really great playing from the musicians particularly the great saxophonists Donny Kennedy and Frank Lozano. Also our drummer Rich Irwin brings a great energy and feel to the music.

What is your process as an artist when writing and/or performing your music? 

I usually work with ideas that have been on my mind for a while. They might not even be very concrete, like a melody or a chord progression. Sometimes original music is born from a feeling that needs to get explored. Usually for me I get a sense of the vibe of the piece first. Like: This is going to be a fast jazz swing tune with lots of energy, or this is going to be a moody or yearning kind of melody. I like exploring “light” and “dark” sounds especially when thinking about harmony. The other thing I can say is that from my experience the best music happens quite quickly. I have to get it out in a short period of time before I can think about it too much. Once my thinking brain becomes engaged the process can get bogged down to an endless series of unanswerable questions.

Is there any artist or album that you drew inspiration from while making this record?

Probably the music I have studied the most recently has been Herbie Hancock and Walt Weiskopf. There is a Herbie Hancock record called The Prisoner which, as a university student, I transcribed and studied. Walt Weiskopf has a wonderful record called Sight to Sound which really opened my eyes to the possibilities of form in small group writing. Walt seems interested in deconstructing the chorus structure in jazz while still basing form on repetitive structured development. Essentially he’s a master at writing chorused based tunes which he obscured by arranging them in a through composed fashion. You often see this more in larger ensemble writing so I think it’s particularly interesting the way he writes like this for smaller groups.

What is your favourite Netflix show to binge watch?

Me, I don’t watch too much tv. Over the holidays I caught a few episodes of Fargo which had, I think, a really fresh take on traditional narrative storytelling. It seemed very smart to me what they were doing. Otherwise I catch a Spongebob or two with my kid after homework time.