SAGA Jazz hits a national note at Thursday, Feb. 10 when the Toronto-based Griffith Hiltz Trio plays the SAGA Public Art Gallery.
Featuring Johnny Griffith on saxophone and bass clarinet, Nathan Hiltz on guitar and bass pedals, and Sly Juhas on drums, the trio produces a melodic jazz sound that is at once familiar and exotic.
The bass pedals that form the core of the band’s sound had been gathering dust in Griffith’s basement until a lucky conversation brought them to Hiltz’s attention.
He was curious about the effect of using the vintage technology to replicate the organ’s place in a trio, quickly realizing they were on to a great new sound.
Together the trio incorporates not only the influence of Blue Note legends of the ’60’s jazz scene, like Horace Silver, Lee Morgan and Herbie Hancock, but also Celtic, Norse and Eastern motifs, to create a melodic jazz sound.
Their debut album, Now and Then, produced by and featuring Don Thompson, was released in July 2009 to much acclaim. It was voted the number 1 Jazz Album of 2009 by Jazz FM.
Griffith is both talented and versatile. Adept in a diverse range of styles, he has shared the stage with the likes of Maceo Parker, Charlie Hunter, Don Thompson, The Wailers, The Roots, Sloan and Kardinal Offishal.
He has performed at all major Canadian jazz festivals and many international festivals including, the world-famous Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland.
In 2006 Griffith was nominated for a Juno for his work with the EMI/Blue Note recording artists the Pocket Dwellers.
Hiltz has shared the stage with a who’s who of Canadian Jazz icons; Brian Barlow, Phil Dwyer, Ken Fornetran, Bob Mclaren, Bernie Senensky, Norm Marshall Villeneuve, Jake Wilkinson and Alex Dean among others.
He has appeared on albums by John Kay, Lance Bennet, and Carlo Berardinucci and, in 2007, received the Juno Award for Traditional Jazz Album of the year as part of Brandi Disterheft’s group.
Sly Juhas’ has performed and recorded with some of the world’s leading musicians and in some of best venues.
The Griffith Hiltz Trio plays at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10 at SAGA Public Art Gallery.
Admission is by donation.