A new year sees a new band with some familiar players make its Coast debut Jan. 27 at the Gibsons Public Market. Kestra features Steve Giltrow on guitars, Ken Grunenberg on saxophones, Regan Haydu on drums and Tammy Clowers on bass. Music lovers will no doubt recognize Steve Giltrow as one of the Coast’s jazz mainstays. He plays with several groups and is a keen organizer of jazz concerts, regularly bringing guest musicians from Vancouver to the Coast. The Kestra concert is the second of four in the Gibsons Market Jazz Series. “It was a natural extension of what I already do,” says Giltrow. “What I was really looking at with the Market is getting another venue for jazz music on the Coast going.”
Giltrow defines Kestra’s music as “wide-ranging. Anything from bebop to swing, blues, bossa novas, funk and ballads.” While the styles will be familiar to many, the band plays all original tunes. In fact, being able to play original tunes is why Giltrow and Grunenberg founded the band. “Ken and I write a lot of our own music,” says Giltrow. “The only way to find out if you like a tune you’ve written, other than playing it in your head, is to try it out [on an audience].” Giltrow has been playing guitar since he was seven years old, moving from classical, rock, blues and pop before settling on jazz in his early twenties. “It’s the richness of the harmonies and the great melodies that can be in jazz,” says Giltrow of why he has stayed with this style. “The word jazz, it turns some people off because it can be anything from the beautiful symphonic kind of jazz that Duke Ellington did to noise, for lack of a better word. I like jazz that has a melody.” Giltrow commuted to Vancouver once a week to take private lessons from jazz guitar legend Bill Coon. “It was really intense,” says Giltrow. “It would sometimes take me weeks to figure out what he’d taught me, but it was a great way to learn.” Giltrow now has 20 students of his own to which he imparts his own considerable knowledge of playing and writing music.
Giltrow looks forward to Kestra’s debut, featuring new music written specifically for the concert. “New group, new tunes,” says Giltrow. “These guys are really enthusiastic, they come up with ideas and they’re a real pleasure to work with,” he says of his new bandmates. “I hope people come out and listen to something they haven’t heard before.”
Kestra plays the Gibsons Public Market Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30pm. Tickets $20 available at One Flower One Leaf Gallery, The Medicine Shoppe, Strait Music or online at gibsonspublicmarket.com