When Erin Propp sang her song The Breathing during the jazz festival, it took my breath away.
The Winnipeg singer's composition, based on a conversation with her father about her parents' love for each other, is an emotionally powerful song that highlights her songwriting and vocal skills.
The fact it was performed in a spare trio with bassist Luke Sellick and guitarist Larry Roy made it even more poignant.
If you didn't catch her performance opening for singer Gretchen Parlato at the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, you'll be able to hear The Breathing on the debut CD she's recording.
Propp is one of three 20-something jazz musicians, along with drummers Curtis Nowosad and Lucas Sader, to hit the studio last week to record debut albums. All expect to release them in the fall.
Propp says that while the trio will be the core, the recording will be "more than the trio sound." It will incorporate piano, Rhodes electric piano, percussion, full drum kit on some tunes and saxophone by Jimmy Greene.
"Every song is being treated differently; a very individual treatment," Propp says.
The singer emphasizes that the project is a 50/50 collaboration with Roy, her former teacher in the University of Manitoba jazz studies program, and the recording engineer who will oversee all three recording sessions in his studio. Propp writes the lyrics and melody, she says, and Roy adds harmony and rhythm.
Nowosad emphasizes his recording is jazz, even with music by Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Black Star, Tupac Shakur, Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd along with two originals by the drummer. Even one of the originals is based on Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix.
"It's a pretty eclectic mix, but it ties together well," Nowosad says. "It's still very much a jazz record, but the underlying concept is contemporary music from 1970 to now," he adds.
Nowosad is backed by bassists Steve Kirby and Julian Bradford, pianist Will Bonness (Taylor Eigsti plays on one track), saxophonist Greene, trumpeter Derrick Gardner and guitarist Roy.
"Hopefully, jazz people will see the (musician) names and pick it up and non-jazz people will see the songs and pick it up," he says.
He adds that the CD will be under 50 minutes long, like classic jazz LPs. "Since the advent of the CD in the '80s, I think most albums are too long," Nowosad adds.
Music from Sader's recording, Apollo: Tribute to the Miles Davis Quintet, has had a couple of airings -- in January and again during the jazz festival.
The drummer said the CD will be a mix of originals, music associated with Davis's "second great quintet" with bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Tony Williams, as well as a new arrangement of Blue in Green from the classic Kind of Blue album.
Sader said he composed a couple of tunes, including the title track, in the vein of Davis, a musician who was "always searching, moving forward, finding something new."
Sader's band includes saxophonist Paul Balcain, bassist Karl Kohut, keyboard player Paul De Gurse and trumpeter Gardner, a U of M professor who loves the music of the '60s Davis band and "who was in the project from the start."
All three musicians plan to use their recordings as a calling card for airplay and gigs across the country, including the summer jazz festival circuit.
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Bassist Luke Sellick has his fingers crossed as he prepares to attend Juilliard in the fall on a scholarship.
The 21-year-old graduate of the U of M's jazz studies program will go to New York to work on a master's degree in jazz studies and one of the prestigious school's bass instructors is the legendary Ron Carter.
"I'm hoping to get some one-on-one time with him," Sellick said in an interview. The other bass teachers are Ben Wolfe, whom Sellick studied with over Skype this year, and Ray Drummond -- both well-known and respected jazz musicians.
Sellick is one of only two bassists who won scholarships through an application and audition process; one each in the master's and undergraduate programs.