West coast jazz guitarist Harry Bartlett said it means a lot to be returning to his home province, and his muse, for the first time with his new trio.
“B.C. has been such a source of inspiration for so much of my music and it’s going to be really great to connect with that again,” said Bartlett, 21, who is now based in Toronto.
“Particularly the mountains and the ocean and everything that the province has to offer. I’ve written a lot of music as dedications to certain areas and we’re going to be playing a lot of that music on our tour as well.”
Bartlett left Vancouver in 2016 to study at the University of Toronto jazz program. Last year he released his debut EP with the Harry Bartlett Trio – Bartlett, bassist Caleb Klager and drummer Harry Vetro – and this month he’s bringing them on their first Western Canadian tour, including his first-ever Nanaimo show at the Lighthouse Bistro on Nov. 8.
“We’re going to be playing a set of compositions that I’ve written in the last couple of years that are really informed by folk music but incorporate that folk composition with jazz improvisation and a jazz sensibility,” he said.
During his tour, Bartlett is hosting improvisation workshops at high schools along the way. He said he hopes to open students’ eyes to the experience of playing “without any preconceived idea of harmony, melody and rhythm.” He said it’s something he wished he learned sooner.
“It really freed up a lot of preconceived ideas about what’s musical and what isn’t and, unfortunately, I wasn’t really exposed to playing free, open, improvised music until I moved out to Toronto to go to school,” he said. “And I think I would have really benefited from being exposed to it at a younger age.”
He’ll even be visiting his old school when his tour takes him to Vancouver.
“I’m really looking forward to connecting with the teachers there and offering something back to that community because it has been so huge in my development,” Bartlett said.
WHAT’S ON … The Harry Bartlett Trio performs at the Lighthouse Bistro, 50 Anchor Way, on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students.