Bent River Records Artist Spotlight – April 2023

We are excited to announce the next Bent River Records Artist Spotlight will be at the Yardbird Suite on April 20th, featuring performances by Jim Head, Esther Forseth & Andrea House. Save the date and join us for an evening full of live music and fun!

The event will take place on Thursday, April 20th, 2023 at the Yardbird Suite, 11 Tommy Banks Way NW, in Edmonton, Alberta.

The evening’s lineup includes three performances featuring artists with new releases from Bent River Records. The night will open with Esther Forseth performing her indelible brand of progressive folk; next, the sensational and multi-dimensional, Andrea House; and Canadian Jazz great, Jim Head, will be closing out the night. CDs of the performer’s albums will be available for purchase. Bent River Records merchandise and other previously released works from Bent River Records will also be available for purchase. Entry to this event is by donation to the Students First Campaign. A QR code with the link to donate will be available at the event. No RSVP or ticket purchase is necessary.

Click here for the Yardbird Suite event page.

Catching Up with Mike Bruzzese

What was your inspiration for writing Even When I’m Dreaming? Were there any unique approaches to how you wrote for it?

Without making a conscious effort, a lot of the music I wrote for this record is dedicated to significant people in my life or what inspires me. For example, “Roots of the Poet” is a tribute to my late grandfather, and “Roots of the Seeker” is written for my grandmother. “Eyes of Tranquility” was inspired by my partner, while “Sky Hook” describes a basketball shot that I love. I explore what stimulates me and gives me a reason, to compose and play music. 

Who are your most significant Jazz Influences, and why?

I have so many jazz influences, that I would struggle to list them all. John Coltrane is a good start. I recorded two compositions by him (“After the Rain” and “Transition”) as a medley, to show my appreciation for his art and creativity. My main guitar influences, in terms of sound, are Grant Green, Barney Kessel, and Sonny Greenwich. They are all so unique but in terms of sound, I am drawn to their bright, melodic style. I feel like they are singing through their guitars. I am certainly inspired by all the great drummers of this music, including Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Roy Haynes, and Rashied Ali. I recall that one of my mentors, Ra Kalam Bob Moses, always advised me to think of myself as a drummer.

Where do you find your creativity when you aren’t feeling creative?

When I am not feeling creative, I seek inspiration wherever I can find it. Whether it is reading a book, watching a film, going for a walk, or watching highlights of my favorite basketball players, there is always something that re-ignites the fire in me!

Other than music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?

I am a huge basketball fan, so I enjoy going out there and playing pickup basketball with friends and strangers. There is something about the rhythm of the game that reminds me of the flow of music. 

What does 2023 have in store for Mike Bruzzese?

My objective is to continue working with my bands and composing new music. In addition, I plan to get started on my next record. I teach approximately 20 students a week because I feel it is important to transmit my knowledge to people who share a passion for music. 

Do you have any special shoutouts or people you’d like to acknowledge in the creation of Even When I’m Dreaming?

I want to thank my partner, Lianne Currie, for supporting me and always encouraging me to continue to grow and challenge myself. My parents and my sister have also been tremendously supportive. I feel blessed to have a great family that loves music. I feel so much gratitude for the musicians that played on this album. I truly feel that I recorded with some of my favorite musicians. Special thanks to Michel Lambert, Ira Coleman, Gentiane MG and Caity Gyorgy for their collaboration in Even When I’m Dreaming. Lastly, I want to thank everyone at Bent River Records for contributing to this project. It is an honor to be on this label with a roster of superb artists.

“Hello!” from the Bent River Records team

Hello! My name is Barbie Cayanan, Bent River Record’s Design intern this winter semester! I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Design program, focusing on illustration, advertising, and branding design. While I have no background or experience in music, art is in my blood. I grew up in a family of creatives with my pastry chef mother, aspiring writer younger sister, and architect older sister and brother. I am passionate about bringing ideas, emotions, and messages to life, and I have expressed that passion through my art and illustrations. Being a newcomer to Canada, I did not know where my talent and passion fit into the academic world until my high school art teacher introduced me to MacEwan and their design program. I am beyond excited to work with other creatives and artists outside of my home and grow further as a designer in a professional environment.

Hi there! My name is Gladwyn Badger, I am an Associate with Bent River Records. I started working with the label as an intern in 2021, and I’ve been fortunate enough to continue working with such an incredible team of hardworking, dedicated people since!

I am in my final semester, studying in the department of Music here at MacEwan University, with a General Major and a Minor in Music Career Management. My goals are to continue to expand my professional network and build meaningful relationships within the local music community, as well as amplifying indigenous musicians’ voices and artists alike. Working at Bent River has given me the experience I was looking for when I first started out as an intern, and because of the amazing opportunities while working here, I feel so much more prepared to succeed after I leave university.

Fun fact: I am a very proud Nehiyawak originally from the Treaty 8 territory. During the summer you can usually see me cruising around the city on my Indian Motorcycle, taking a jog in the beautiful River Valley, or enjoying an espresso at one of the many cafés the city has to offer.

Designing ‘Be Kind’ with Simon Dechant

Simon Dechant is the winner of the 2021 Album Design Competition in partnership with the MacEwan Bachelor of Design program. Scroll on to read about the designing of the album Be Kind!

Be Kind by Chandelle Rimmer and Tom Van Seters is releasing this week on November 24, debuting at our Artist Spotlight at the Yardbird Suite! Join us at 7pm for a night of live music! 

What was it like to participate in the album design competition?

It was a difficult project! I went through so many revisions that I can’t even remember them all. I had to start from scratch at least three times! Once I figured out how I wanted to tackle it conceptually through the rationale, it all came together. This excerpt [from the rationale] really captures the vision that the album cover is based around: “Smoke is fluid and beautiful in its waves and patterns, but it is also vulnerable. It goes away with a wave of a hand and is only captured in a single moment, never making the same shape twice.”

How does it feel knowing that your design is actually being produced and put out into the world for people to buy and enjoy?

I’m sure this is a standard answer, but it’s honestly very surreal. I’m super excited to see it in the M Store! I will definitely be showing all my friends.

Checkout more of Simon’s work on Instagram at dechantsdesigns.

Designing ‘Up and Over’ with Thia Ma

Thia Ma is the winner of the 2021 Album Design Competition in partnership with the Bachelor of Design program. Read on to hear about her experience designing the album for Up and Over Trio’s first album!

‘Up and Over’ will be released next week on November 24th, debuting at our Artist Spotlight. Come see Up and Over Trio debut their first album live at the Yardbird Suite!

What was it like to participate in the album design competition?

I enjoyed participating in a project centred around a real client in the music industry, something way beyond the fictional project briefs we are usually assigned. It was an opportunity to design something novel, like an album cover, and put the client’s needs at the forefront of the design process. You are competing against your classmates but what stood out was the many different interpretations of the same information, leading to some compelling final designs. 

How does it feel knowing that your design is actually being produced and put out into the world for people to buy and enjoy?

It’s surreal, and honestly, until I’m holding the physical album, I won’t believe my work exists in such a concrete way. I hope people are attracted to the album’s design and take the opportunity to listen to and support the Up and Over Trio. 

Check out more of Thia’s work on her Instagram madebythia or her portfolio site

Click here for Thia’s 2022 MacEwan Student Research Day presentation breaking down her full process and inspiration behind the Up and Over cover.