Harrison2 is a Toronto-based jass quartet featuring (from left) Harrison Vetro (drums), Harrison Argatoff (tenor saxophone), Mike Murley (tenor saxophone) and Steve Wallace (double bass). Photo supplied.

Harrison2 is a Toronto-based jass quartet featuring (from left) Harrison Vetro (drums), Harrison Argatoff (tenor saxophone), Mike Murley (tenor saxophone) and Steve Wallace (double bass). Photo supplied.

Toronto quartet Harrison2 coming to Courtenay

This week, Georgia Straight Jazz Society presents a wonderful group called Harrison2 (Harrison Squared), featuring Mike Murley and Steve Wallace. It’s a Toronto-based modern jazz quartet that features two up-and-coming instrumentalists, Harrison Vetro (drums) and Harrison Argatoff (tenor saxophone), alongside two mainstays of the Canadian jazz scene, Mike Murley (tenor saxophone) and Steve Wallace (double bass).

“The group hatched from a chance encounter between myself and Wallace in early 2016, at the University of Toronto, while my drum teacher (Nick Fraser) was on tour,” said Vetro. “Wallace was asked to sub in for a lesson, with the aim of offering his wealth of experience and some new perspective. As we worked together on time, tempo, and rhythmic feel, Wallace immediately recognized a natural musical connection. Wanting to end the lesson with some fun, Argatoff was invited to jump in and play some music as a trio. Wallace recognized and was inspired by both Argatoff’s and my musicality, thoughtfulness, and creativity; very much in the Lennie Tristano/Warne Marsh vein.”

The three resolved to get together and play again but scheduling made this a challenge. Finally, the two Harrisons took the bull by the horns, landing a gig at The Rex in September of 2016 and asking Murley and Steve to join them; thus was a band born!

With an agreed-upon selection of standards, and some out-of-the-way jazz originals, the gig had an open and spontaneous feeling which was immensely satisfying. Having played together on countless occasions, Murley and Wallace were inspired by the stimulus of playing with fresh musicians. And likewise, both Argatoff and Vetro were pushed to rise to the level of such musical masters.

The band expresses a distinct Canadian jazz identity, and a forward-thinking modern approach to jazz. Together they have performed shows at Toronto’s premiere jazz club the Rex Hotel, as well as the Emmet Ray. Harrison2 recorded a full-length album in the fall of 2019, which is being released on this cross-Canada tour.

Northern Ranger, Vetro’s first album, released about a year and a half ago, topped fourth on the national jazz charts in Canada and continues to gain international airplay from New York City to Toronto and across Canada.

Showtime at the Avalanche Bar & Grill (275 8th St., Courtenay) is 7:30 p.m. Admission for this wonderful concert is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. For more information about forthcoming jazz performance during 2020, please visit www.georgiastraightjazz.com and select the calendar tab.

Jazz

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