Thursday, 18 June 2015 09:59

Medicine Hat duo will jazz up music festival

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Sometimes, there are musical collaborations that take time to evolve.

The chemistry just needs to combine better, whether it’s because of different philosophies or perhaps the personal connection doesn’t quite mesh right away, but because of areas of expertise, it just seems logical that they would work.
Well, that isn’t the case for the gifted duo of Adele M. Wilding and Juanita Faas (Jazz Vespers) who will perform at the Medicine Hat Jazz Festival as well as numerous locations prior to the start of the event.
Those lovers of music may have luckily already seen them perform — Wilding on vocals and Faas deftly playing the piano — at different locations around the city of Medicine Hat including The Twist Wine and Tapas Bar and Inspire Café at the Esplanade.
It is an understatement to say Faas and Wilding can’t wait for the June 21-28 Jazz Fest.
They have played the Jazz Fest before, but in larger picture, the two haven’t been together long so being there is still exciting for them. Both are professionals and accomplished musicians as far as separate individual projects go.
Perhaps they may have met up eventually since Medicine Hat’s music community isn’t gigantic by any stretch, but it was by chance how they first performed together.
When Wilding took over as voice instructor of the Medicine Hat Conservatory of Music and Dance in September 2012, she was impressed with the school and the people who worked there, but wasn’t sure what she would find on a personal level for her own career in a community not overly close to a major centre. She has a large list of credentials having been a music educator in the United Kingdom, has a lot of education, has had her work performed by recognized and accomplished classical ensembles and according to her Medicine Hat College biography was the “inaugural winner of the BWA Nina Simone Jazz Award, awarded at the Vortex Jazz Club, London, UK (2005), Semi Finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest (2006/07) and Invited Performer at the NME/Uncut Artist Showcase, London (2009).”
Wilding wasn’t necessarily looking for a professional collaboration, but found one quickly. She had performed with a few members of the college  conservatory, but one day when she needed some accompaniment on piano for a show she was doing, her scheduled collaborator unexpectedly had to bow out at the last minute.
Wilding says fellow college music instructor Lyle Rebbeck suggested she contact Faas, an extremely talented piano player who could play a lot of different genres and highly sought-after for accompaniment at different music festivals.
“It was a chance meeting,” explains Wilding who at the time was not overly familiar with Faas.
Faas admitted the first gig didn’t go off perfectly and at first they needed a little work, but that ironed out almost immediately. Now they are not only collaborators, but Wilding has quickly become friends with Faas’ family.
“We became kindred spirits,” explains Wilding. “There’s definitely chemistry between us.
“There are a lot of good freelance musicians you can work with out there, but when you find someone special to work with, it manifests it self into some great work ... it’s almost like we’re mindmelding when we work together. We agree on most of our new songs.”
“Adele’s work is — it’s interesting ... it’s diverse,” explains Faas. “She paints pictures with her words and her melodies are very catchy.”
Faas is strong in composing and arranging which Wilding says contributes to to their innovative material.
“Her instrumental music talents are amazing,” explains Wilding. “I truly appreciate her technical brilliance. I’ve never worked with someone like her before. We’re hearing something and we’re able to bounce things off each other’s strengths.”
They did work with Rick Lett for a while, but are now a duo.
Faas is always busy and extremely grateful for the support she receives from her husband and family who have been understanding in her musical pursuits and work.  She has worked on five albums. Very appreciated yet perhaps still has flown under the radar a bit, Faas came from a musical family. She played as a child and never looked back, but admits jazz-type of music wasn’t on her radar at an early age.
“I had no idea this kind of music even existed,” she says with a laugh.
They both say they enjoy pardon the pun, jazzing it up not only to prior to the festival, but in general. Depending on what venue they play, the music selection will differ. That keeps it fresh for them.
“We love performing for a fresh audience; it gives us a renewed energy,” explains Faas.
Wilding adds, “We love to be challenged.”
Tuning up for Jazzfest they will performed at the Bravo Coffee House at the Esplanade June 18 starting at 12:15 p.m.; June 19 at the Desert Blume Golf Course’s Mirage area as well as two sets at The Twist Wine and Tapas Bar June 20 at 7:30 and 9 p.m.  At Jazz fest they are at Inspire Café June 25 (6-8 p.m.) and will grace the  Bless the Fest, Jazz Vespers, St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Medicine Hat starting at 4:30 p.m. June 22.
Wilding says the St. John’s performance will be different as there will be additional appropriate scriptures which will add yet another variation to their usual musical sets.
They will also be going on a significant five-stop summer tour, including an early July stop in Dauphin, MB and ending in Vancouver — a hub of jazz in Canada.
“It’s all been very special,” says Faas who is doing a composing and arranging session in Nashville Tennessee July 23-24 and working with the national symphony there.
Wilding says she’s working on a deal with a company which supplies music for film and television to supply them with her works.
For more on the Medicine Hat Jazz Fest ’15, visit or follow regular updates on Twitter at @medhatjazz. Also see the Jazz Vespers at @JuanitaFaas2 and @AMWildingJazz.

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Ryan Dahlman

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