The Brad Cheeseman Group was awarded the prestigious TD Grand Prix Jazz Award at this year’s Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. The prize features recording time, future festival appearances, prize money, and included a feature performance on the festival’s TD Stage. Each year, the festival selects ten Canadian artists to compete for the award and, after careful consideration, selects a winner based on their festival performances. In addition to the Brad Cheeseman Group, this year’s competition included Tara Kannangara (Ontario), Lisanne Tremblay (Quebec), Tertio (Quebec), Samuel Bonnet (Quebec), Autobahn (Ontario), Annie Dominique (Quebec), FOG Brass Band (Ontario) and the Simon Denizart Trio (Quebec).
The band—including guitarist Robert Chapman, pianist Sam Kogen, drummer Marito Marques and saxophonist Chelsea McBride—delivered the exciting competition-deciding performance on July 4 at the Club Jazz Casino stage, performing selections from the band’s award-winning self-titled album for hundreds of enthusiastic festival-goers. Later that night, Brad received a call from the festival letting him know the good news. At the festival’s press conference, Cheeseman stated that “to be here at all, especially with nine other fantastic artists, is a huge honour and to get this recognition is incredible.” The band later delivered a concluding performance on the festival’s TD Stage on July 5.
“Figurants, the wraith says they’re called, these surreally mute background presences whose presence really revealed that the camera, like any eye, has a perceptual corner, a triage of who’s important enough to be seen and heard v. just seen.”
– Infinite Jest, pg. 835
Receiving acclaim for his work as both bassist and composer, Brad Cheeseman has been steadily positioning himself as a unique voice in Canadian jazz. Considered by some to be “one of Canada’s bright new jazz composer-artists,” his music has been described as having the “subtleties of the best modern jazz music” with a strong emphasis on musical storytelling. On Figurants, Cheeseman brings this idea full circle with his most ambitious work yet: a series of new compositions based on David Foster Wallace’s landmark novel Infinite Jest.
Joined by Brad Cheeseman Group alumni Lorenzo Castelli (drums) and Jeff LaRochelle (tenor sax & bass clarinet), as well as Kevin Stolz (piano), Colleen Allen (alto & soprano sax), and Aidan Sibley (trombone), Figurants explores various characters, chapters and themes from Wallace’s novel, using varying instrumentation and moods to set each scene. Whether it’s the urgent quartet performance on “Year of Glad” or the elegant complexity of “Scaling Mt. Dilaudid,” Figurants looks at both the themes and world of Wallace’s novel while recognizing their parallels in the world around us.
Selections from Figurants will be premiered at Spectrum Music’s upcoming “Literary Landscapes” concert.
1. Year of Glad (4:34)
2. The American Century as Seen Through a Brick (6:45)
3. The Wraith Himself (6:45)
4. Scaling Mt. Dilaudid (7:31)