You could say Quinn Bachand had his own Smoke on the Water experience in Boston last year.
In the process of finishing up his studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, but away at the time, the acoustic guitarist and multi-instrumentalist experienced a feeling of helplessness when he learned the building next to his had been affected by a major fire next door.
His own suite wound up badly damaged, but luckily friends went in and grabbed various musical instruments and equipment before the fire escalated.
The school put students up at a nearby Sheraton hotel, which became part of the inspiration and in fact the recording site for Bachand’s next CD, which he later appropriately titled Tunes in a Hotel. He invited an international collection of top-notch musician friends to play on the recordings and the result, he said, was “very authentic, gypsy jazz kind of stuff.”
“It was my last month of school and I was down to one day a week, so I had time to work on it when I wasn’t touring,” he recalled during an interview back home in Victoria this week. “I converted the hotel room into a studio, tried to isolate it as much as I could … I had a fridge full of beer, and the microphones were set up all the time and people were coming in and out and playing.”
The material, to be featured in his band Brishen’s CD release concert this Friday night at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is a collection of songs he’s been listening to since he was young, he said. Most were recorded at one time or another by legendary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and Bachand aimed to have a very raw, pure sound for the recordings. He used analog equipment and other unconventional methods that makes the record sound, as some have described it, “like a lost recording of Django Reinhardt … with a bit of Glenn Miller thrown into the mix.”
The detail even extends to minor mistakes made on original recordings. Striving for authenticity, Bachand arranged for those same glitches to be made anew in “Exactly Like You.” Featuring such other lesser-known jazz standards as “Louise,” “Seagulls” and timeless classics as “It Had to be You” and “Pennies From Heaven,” the CD includes songs from the 1930s to 50’s that Bachand and company put love and care into. They retained the mjusic’s old charm, but infused them with new energy through fresh solos.
“I’ve picked up about 200 Django tunes over the years. Some of these tunes jumped out to me and we recorded them and I’m excited to play them for audiences,” Bachand said.
Brishen, Bachand’s gypsy jazz and swing ensemble, hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. (doors 6:45) on Friday, June 21. Tickets are $25 in advance at Lyle’s Place, 770 Yates St., Nicholas Randall Ltd., 2180 Oak Bay Ave; and the Royal and McPherson box office (service charges apply), or $30 at the door.
On the bigger stage … Bachand and Brishen will open for piano prodigy Joey Alexander and his trio during their debut at the TD Victoria International Jazzfest, next Tuesday June 25 at the Royal Theatre. Tickets for that show are available at jazzvictoria.ca or the box offices.
Find out more about Bachand’s band at brishenmusic.com.