BU’s jazz program in spotlight at Brandon Jazz Festival

March 13, 2018

Members of Sola stand in front of a desert landscape
Made up of Brandon University faculty, alumni and a student, Sola will be one of the featured performers at the Brandon Jazz Festival. Pictured from left to right are Stormy Allen, Scott Brown, Aren Teerhuis, Eric Platz and Michael Cain. Matt Steckler is not pictured. (Submitted photo)

BRANDON – The past and present Brandon University’s (BU’s) jazz program will be centre stage at this year’s Brandon Jazz Festival.

With Brandon University celebrating its 50th year since receiving its charter, and the BU jazz program marking its 15th anniversary, School of Music professor Michael Cain and his band, Sola, will be among the featured performers at the Festival, which will take place from March 15 to 17. The Festival is marking its own milestone this year as well, having been founded 35 years ago.

“This is the first time since the Brandon Jazz Festival began in 1983 that BU faculty, students and alumni have been featured so prominently,” said Greg Gatien, Dean of Music at BU. “Along with providing an excellent opportunity for school-aged musicians to learn and perform, we’re fortunate to be able to see many top-flight jazz performers on stage right here in Brandon through this Festival.

“This year’s event will really showcase the calibre of musicians that we have at BU. I’m excited to see the show put on by Sola and the other performers.”

A native of Los Angeles, Cain earned a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Piano in 1988 and a Master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1990, both from the California Institute of Arts. His interest in non-western music has also led him to study the music of Bali, Ghana and India, and spent several years as an in-demand performer in Los Angeles and New York. He recorded his first of several CDs as a band leader, Strange Omen, in 1991. He has also performed with many jazz greats, including a nine-year association with legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette that included five albums and tours in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

Cain began his career as an educator in 1995, teaching at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He joined the BU School of Music in 2008 and has been instrumental in the continued development of the Jazz Studies program. Cain released his most recent recording, Sola, in 2015. Other Sola band members include BU professors Eric Platz (drums) and Matt Steckler (saxophone). The group is rounded out by alumni Aren Teerhuis (saxophone) and Scott Brown (guitar) as well as current student Stormy Allen (trombone).

A cappella group Those Guys will join Sola as featured performers at the Festival. Made up of performers from Winnipeg’s music and theatre community, Those Guys cover ground from Justin Timberlake to the Nylons and everything in between. They released their debut album in 2012, followed by an EP in 2014 and a Christmas album in 2015.

The Brandon Jazz Festival is an annual non-competitive event, held each March on the campus of Brandon University. School-based musicians and community groups perform and receive feedback from a group of adjudicators, made up of professional jazz musicians and educators from across Canada and the United states. The Festival draws more than 4,000 participants from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and the United States.

More information on the Festival is available at BrandonJazzFestival.com.