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Christopher Butcher

This week we feature Christopher Butcher, a trombonist, producer, and bandleader who has established himself as one of Canada's top trombone players. An important contributor to the jazz and world music scenes in Toronto, he has performed with artists such as Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, Archie Alleyne, and Nikki Yanofsky.  As a member of the Heavyweights Brass Band, the group’s debut record Don’t Bring Me Down received widespread acclaim and saw them tour Canada extensively. Their new record will be released in March 2014.

Christopher participated in our Jazzology program in 2008 while completing his studies at Humber College. He took time to answer some questions about his activities and the Jazzology program:

Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

My favourite aspect is that the show requires that students present their music and prepare for an interview. This raises the level of our young artists by having them prepare to be a professional. Producing music and doing artist interviews are two of the most important skills for aspiring musicians.

What is your strongest memory of the program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

I have to say hearing the program on air. The feeling you have when you hear your own music on JAZZ.FM91 is certainly a rush and can be addictive.

Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

Without a doubt. Everyone should be producing music and working on their interview skills. Jazzology gives students something to aspire to.

How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

I’ve been interested in radio ever since. Now I have my own show on CIUT 89.5 FM called Dig! every Wednesday 12PM-2PM ET. I play music I love and try and shine the spotlight on local artists. I also always keep the radio format at the front of my mind when I produce music for groups I’m involved with.

Jazzology is made possible by our generous donors and RBC Royal Bank who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

Thank you so much for providing resources to an organization that has numerous programs to provide outlets for music for youth.

Why is music education important?

I believe art and music are what makes us human. There are many cultures that have no written language, but none that have no music. It is form of communication that is deeper than language. An education in music is vital to keep us human.

Since participating in the Jazzology program, what have you been doing?

I have remained extremely busy playing the trombone. My group, the Heavyweights Brass Band, is releasing its second album Brasstronomical on March 6th at Lula Lounge. I’ve played and recorded with David Clayton-Thomas, Randy Bachman, Paul Schaffer, and Nikki Yanofsky.  More importantly I’ve been mentored in the groups of Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, Archie Alleyne and Jay Douglas. When not working with those artists I’m on a salsa gig, a jobbing band or recording horns for people in my home studio.

I also run a community group called Street Brass in association with Uma Nota. It’s an open call to horn players and we play brass band music from the carnival traditions of the Americas. You can hear us opening for The Heavyweights on March 6th and any horn player (from high school to professional level) can join the group at “Street Brass” on Facebook.

I spent November in Cuba, studying music, listening to my favourite groups, working on my Spanish and I even did a clinic on jazz at Paulita Concepcion music school for the kids. I was nominated for a Premier’s Award for Excellence in The Arts in 2013. I’ve done Canadian tours with Hilario Duran and the Heavyweights Brass Band (opening for The Roots in Saskatoon). I’ve played the Havana Jazz Festival with Jay Douglas and in both Barbados and Antigua with Archie Alleyne’s Kollage.

What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

Trombone Shorty: He’s a huge inspiration. He plays with a lot of swagger, burning energy, and rhythmic fire. He’s a showman live and is trailblazing a path for the trombone in popular culture.

Havana D’Primera: They have to be the greatest Cuban band, fusing the funk deeply into Cuban music and they are a monster group live. The lead singer Alexander Abreu is also one of the greatest trumpet players on the planet.

Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz: Comprised of 20 or so horn players and Afro Brazilian percussion, these guys bring it. Stunning arrangements and writing by Letieres. They are always doing interesting collaborations with Joshua Redman or Gilberto Gil.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m working more with my quartet and I want to record them. I’m also recording a lot of stuff at home. Some of it is going to go on an album that is going to be very eclectic, not your average trombonist’s album. I’m also producing for other artists, working on tracks, and getting my studio chops together.

How can people learn more about you and your activities?

The best thing is to check out my webpage I’m also on twitter and Instagram: @butchermusic

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.

About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

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