When Roy Styffe’s mother died last year he was moved to honour her with his music. But what started with a commemorative composition has led to the Victoria-based jazz saxophonist’s first album in almost 20 years.
Styffe said it felt like the right time to “get something out there,” but added that it was a very different process this time around.
“My previous experience was one of being a young guy and trying to get something happening in Toronto,” he said. “And this was much more of an offering of gratitude and just maybe a little bit more comfortable in my own skin and just playing as I know how and playing with musicians that I really admire and love.”
Styffe recorded the album with his new quartet, which features West Coast musicians Bill Coon on guitar, Ken Lister on bass and Buff Allen on drums. Styffe had been familiar with these musicians for decades, but this is the first time they’re playing together.
“What I really love about these musicians is that there’s a real sense of back-and-forth, of listening to each other and building on the storyline of the music,” he said. “So, in a way, we’re kind of like storytellers, and that’s the name of the CD is Stories Within Stories.”
The album came together quickly over the course of five months at the end of last year. Styffe said one day six songs came to him at once.
The group held a three-night “mini tour” to launch Stories Within Stories in January, and the tour resumes this month with a show at the Lighthouse Bistro in Nanaimo on Feb. 24. Styffe said the quartet is improving with each performance.
“These next gigs will be closer to what I want to hear, but it’s all a process,” Styffe said. “It’s certainly not easy to just have it come out exactly as you like because it’s jazz, right? It’s got that element of surprise in there.”
WHAT’S ON … The Roy Styffe Quartet plays the Lighthouse Bistro on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, available from the venue, Fascinating Rhythm, Arbutus Music or online.