A jazz concert with a difference at Studio 64
When Kimberley Arts Council’s [email protected] 64 committee invited the Dirk Quinn Jazz Quartet to open the fall jazz and blues concert season on September 21, little did they know what they were in for.
The band’s billing as a funk jazz improv band, while suggesting that their music would be contemporary in style, didn’t really give much of a clue about what the audience might expect. And when, following a brief introduction by MC Keith Nicholas, the band launched into its first number with no further words from band leader Dirk Quinn, we still had no idea what was coming.
That first number, an intense instrumental that lasted about 12 minutes, left many of us bemused; intrigued, impressed, maybe a little awestruck, but still not quite understanding what it was we had been listening to.
Throughout the concert, the band performed as it might in a recording studio, alternating the intricate melodic leads between Quinn on lead guitar and Cody Munzert on keyboard and synthesizer. Rory Flynn’s long fingers adapted to the changing rhythms on bass guitar and Charan Singh’s sticks provided precise, sometimes delicate but mainly driving rhythms on drums. Such communication as took place, other than through the music, was the occasional laugh or nod between Quinn and Munzert as they switched leads or changed up the rhythm.
As the concert proceeded, Munzert created an ever widening range of instrumental sounds from his synthesizer, from backing guitars to xylophone to wild animals shrieking in the jungle!
All four musician were excellent instrumentalists and the pieces they played, which this listener assumed were original creations from their three albums, none of them being introduced by title, were fascinating.
They lacked recognizable melodies, with occasional exceptions, as when Quinn picked out a line from the Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’, which produced an appreciative sigh from an audience glad to recognize a tune. [email protected] 64 committee chair, Keith Nicholas, said after the show: “That was a great band ….. I loved how they weaved The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, etc., into their improvisations. They certainly had the audience spellbound and me for one in awe at their virtuosity.”
From their hometown in Philadelphia, the band was on a tour across the USA, with this one jog north to Kimberley their only Canadian gig.
During the past decade the band released three albums, Quinntet in 2008, Live at Home in 2012, and Infinite Game in 2018, which have received over 100 plays on American radio stations.
If this concert was anything to go by, their reputation as a great instrumental contemporary jazz band is only going to grow. The Dirk Quinn Jazz Quartet certainly provided a memorable start to this fall’s [email protected] 64 concert season.
Photos by Rod Wilson