Hometown boy Kristian Braathen returns to Sechelt for a concert with his jazz trio at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre October 14. Some of you might have seen him play drums at the Lighthouse Pub pre-renovation when he performed in his first “professional” gig with Little Coin. “We had to play on the outside deck because we were under aged,” laughs Braathen. “We got paid in food maybe.” He’s come a long way since then, graduating from the jazz program at Capilano University and performing with such celebrated musicians as Donald Harrison and Matt “Guitar” Murphy. He toured with blues great Russell Jackson, BB King’s former bassist, when he was just 25.
Braathen was first introduced to drums through a friend’s dad. “Something drew me to them,” he says, taking his first lessons with Bob Campbell and then Don Reid who came up from Vancouver once a week to teach Braathen in Nikki Weber’s basement. “He’d lived in New York for 20 years and carried a whole plethora of experience,” says Braathen of Reid. “He knew so much about drums and the music business.” He enrolled at Capilano in part because a friend had gone there. “I threw caution to the wind and pursued the jazz studies program there not fully understanding how intensely focussed on jazz it actually was,” recalls Braathen. “I quickly realized I was out of my element.” But rather than give up, Braathen began looking deeper into the genre, discovering music by Oscar Peterson, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Jacky Terrason, and the Bill Charlap Trio. When he saw the Ray Brown Trio play in Seattle, Braathen never looked back. “That was the first high calibre concert I saw that was awesome,” he says. “It was the pinnacle point for me.” Rather than study four years straight, Braathen took breaks from school to gain real world experience, playing on cruise ships, travelling to French Polynesia and the Caribbean, and then touring with Russell Jackson.
In 2015 Braathen released his debut album, Tempus Fugit, Latin for “time flies,” which includes such non-jazz tunes as Patsy Cline’s “A Closer Walk With Thee,” Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and Pearl Jam’s “Nothingman.” Braathen, who also composes and arranges music, enjoys playing music outside the jazz genre. “The thing about jazz is that you can take almost any song and do something very different with it,” says Braathen, calling “Both Sides Now” bossa nova-ish and “Nothingman” a jazz waltz. For the concert, Braathen says the trio will play some songs from the album, some new compositions as well as familiar jazz standards. “It’s a lovely intimate space,” says Braathen of the Arts Centre, chosen partly for access to a grand piano. “The main focus [of the show] is to create a great feel, inspiring improvisations and lots of dynamics.”
The Kristian Braathen Trio, featuring Nick Peck on piano, Paul Rushka on acoustic bass and Kristian Braathen on drums, plays the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre Saturday, October 14 at 7:30pm. Tickets $25 at the door or $20 in advance at brownpapertickets.ca or by calling 604-209-7333.