Open Skies is the product of music written during the Covid19 pandemic. All the songs were composed as musical responses to social and political events or personal experiences of various kinds. The intention was to contribute something hopeful and reflective of possibilities for resilience, kindness, and social change during a challenging and uncertain time, conveying emotional depth and positive energy.
During the pandemic lockdown, the music was initially recorded in isolation, each instrument recorded sequentially, separately, and not performed together. Later in the year, we picked some our favourite songs and recorded them properly at #9 studios with Bernie Cisternas as our recording engineer. So most of the music on this project was performed live in the studio for the first time – capturing something of the intensity and feeling that happens in the spontaneous and risky moment of playing together. The synergy that occurred between us opened something special, something fragile and tender as well as forceful and passionate.
Our hope is that listeners – in various ways – might be carried along into open skies…good vibes, expansiveness, connection, hope, and spiritual radiance.
Under the title of the “St. Andrew’s Trio”, the Tom Reynolds Trio offered the music of Open Skies as postludes throughout the pandemic. We then chose our favourites to record and share.
The Trio is grateful for the support of the St. Andrew’s United community and our families and friends.
The Tom Reynolds Trio emerged from the context of performing for Sunday worship services at St. Andrew’s United Church (near Bloor and Yonge in Toronto), where it is known as the “St. Andrew’s Trio.” Providing jazz music in a liturgical format opened unique possibilities for performing in a more contemplative, textured, and reflective mode, even while retaining the distinct elements of improvisation and spontaneous interaction among the musicians.
When performing live in clubs in Toronto, such as the Rex or other venues, the trio ratches up the intensity. Reminiscent of Bill Evans and Keith Jarett trios, the trio foregrounds the flexible and collaborative elements of jazz performance. Each original composition is melodically and harmonically structured to open space for responsiveness between musicians (piano, bass, drums), expressed in both subtle and full-bodied emotional contours. Strong melodic content and layered harmony through the writing provides a bedrock for the performance to convey intensity of feeling and improvisational vitality. The contemporary jazz sound that results is distinctive and unique to the trio, as each musician brings their own voice to the performance. The ‘band vibe’ is very much alive in what we do.
George Koller is a bassist, producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and promoter of jazz, world and folk music through concerts and his home grown label ZSAN Records (the zenith of science art and nature). In a wildly diverse and expansive career, he has worked with everyone, including Peter Gabriel, Eartha Kitt, Chaka Khan, Eddie Harris, Loreena Mckennitt, David Clayton-Thomas, Jim McCarty (The Yardbirds), Ian Tyson, The Shuffle Demons, Laila Biali, John Mcdermott, Larry Coryell, Karrin Allyson, Phil Woods, Michael Mcdonald, Carvin Winans, Sonny Stitt, Valdy, Eliana Cuevas and Holly Cole and many others.
A prolific composer, producer and bassist, George plays a variety of instruments many of which are featured on his award-winning debut solo album “Music for Plants, Animals and Humans”. He has performer/bassist/ credits on over 1600 albums in various genres and producer credits on at least 250 albums. Some recent producer credits include: Laila Biali, Fern Lindzon, Eliana Cuevas, David Clayton-Thomas, Rita Chiarelli, Monsoon, Near East, June Garber, Lara Solnicki, Julie Michels, Linda Carone, Shuffle Demons,Toronto Tabla Ensemble, and Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds. George has also recorded numerous yoga/meditation/wellness albums such as Cello by the Sea, India, Bali, Breathing for Relaxation, Peaceful Harmony, Zen Tranquility, Zen Harmony, Zen Serenity, Rest Well for labels such as Dan Gibson's 'Solitudes', Sommerset Records and Avalon Records.
George was awarded the HMV "fresh blood" grand prize, has been voted National Jazz Awards “Bassist of the Year”, has a Toronto Star critics award and 2 “Porcupine” awards and has been on many Juno award-nominated and winning albums. His latest solo album is called “Secret Space Program”. George continues to release digital singles on his ZSAN Records label and in 2020 has begun a special series of singles from various artists recorded in studio sessions called "Orphan Songs", where he is highlighting unique and stand alone compositions that have not found their homes in an album.
Born in 1958 and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, George was fortunate to have great teachers and a thriving musical community to work in. Tommy Banks, Big Miller, Bob Stroup and Judi Singh were his mentors. George studied classical music at the University of Alberta and jazz at Grant McCewan University, where he also became the bass instructor. George then moved to Calgary during what he would describe as an artistic renaissance period and he flourished as a gigging jazz musician and studio session player. In 1984, at age 26, George moved to his now home Toronto. He has toured Canada at least 35 times, the USA, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Brazil, Ecuador, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Japan, China, Thailand, Korea, Estonia, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, India, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, South Africa and New Zealand.
Founding Director: Kirana East-West Orchestra
Founding Director: FreeUnion Collective, inspired by Fred Stone
Radio Host: CKLN Jazz Universe (1994-96)
Producer/artistic director- International Divas Concert series
Producer- World Jazz for Haiti (23 song fundraiser cd)
Producer: Maple Leaf Rising Sun, Songs for Tohoku Japan
Artistic Director: An Artist’s Affair for University Hospital network
Music Director: Porgy and Bess at Soulpepper
Music Director: Carvin Winans
Music Director: David Clayton-Thomas (2015-2019)
Music Director: Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds
In House Producer: Number 9 Audio Group
CBC Accent on Toronto: Music Director (15 years)
Radio Documentary Host: East-West Universe JAZZFM.91
ZSAN Records, owner/operator
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