Tune in to Tunnel Six

Tunnel Six is a sextet comprised of some of the most notable up-and-coming jazz musicians and composers

Tunnel Six is a sextet comprised of some of the most notable up-and-coming jazz musicians and composers from the east and west coasts of the continent.

Playing original compositions by all the band members, Tunnel Six hopes to connect to their audiences through the strong and intuitive storytelling elements of their improvisations.

The group, which plays this Sunday at the Avalanche Bar and Grill in Courtenay, was formed when its members were attending the International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at the Banff Centre. Though formed by chance meeting, the strong musical chemistry between them was immediately evident.

“We were sharing some beers at the 2009 Banff workshop when we realized that the guys around the table were exactly the instrument configuration for a band,” recalls pianist Andrew Oliver. “So, the next morning we set up and went at it.”

Within the span of a three-week workshop, the band members felt as though they had already been playing together for years.

Tunnel Six is led by Oliver from Portland, Ore., who is developing a substantial jazz compositional reputation. He was recently awarded a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant in 2012 for an album-length work and recording, and was given a fellowship by the Oregon Arts Commission for further studies.

The band features another West Coaster on trumpet, Chad McCullough. All About Jazz.com calls him “one of Seattle’s musical gems.”

With four critically acclaimed albums as a leader, McCullough brings experience ranging from Dixieland bands and the Glenn Miller Orchestra to in-your-face modern jazz.

From Toronto is saxophonist Ben Dietschi, with a wealth of experience from most major jazz festivals in Canada.  Most recently he’s been working with the Spectrum Composers Collective fusing jazz and classical music with his brother Jesse Dietschi, who holds down the Tunnel Six bass chair on this tour.

Jesse has appeared in music festivals and venues across Canada. He has performed with Toronto’s Tapestry New Opera Company, and is an artistic associate with the Spectrum Music concert series.

Originally from Toronto but now calling Nashville home is guitarist Brian Seligman, who has written music for film and television and works primarily as a touring guitar player and multi-instrumentalist including, mandolin, dobro, and lap steel.

Originally from Portland, Tyson Stubelek moved to New York City after completing a master of music degree at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

Tunnel Six has completed three cross-continental tours of Canada and the U.S. Their debut album Lake Superior was released in the spring of 2011.

For this show, the band is featuring their latest CD release Tunnel Six Alive.

Tunnel Six performs May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Avalanche. Tickets are available at Bop City in Courtenay, Red Carpet in Comox and the Avalanche.

— Georgia Straight Jazz Society

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