Tyson Naylor Trio
“Tyson has a way of adding great amounts of depth through subtlety, and delivers moments of pure genius throughout.”
After three years on the Berlin scene broadening his horizons, returning Vancouver native Tyson Naylor put together a local trio that really clicked and took it into the studio for his long-overdue debut recording, with the brilliant Vancouver clarinetist François Houle guesting on two tracks. Kosmonauten is a diverse but ultimately unifying record that well displays the group’s strengths – great rapport across a range of styles and grooves, from stompin’, jazzed-up rock’n’roll to free improv; writing that taps into a rich vein of lyricism; and a playful yet at the same time highly communicative focus that somehow sets it apart from a lot of modern jazz. Even if you might pick out influences or references, from Wayne Horvitz to Abdullah Ibrahim to Misha Mengelberg, there’s nothing second-hand about this music. It seems to want to engage the listener in a personal dialogue that’s grounded in its changing moods, from tender and introspective to intense and celebratory, but is ultimately about things beyond music.
Perhaps part of this has to do with Tyson’s eclectic musical activities and interests. In Vancouver he’s played keys and/or accordion in various folk groups, and since his return in indie bands such as Kenton Loewen’s The Crackling and feted west coast singer-songwriter Dan Mangan’s band. “At school, as I was one of the few keyboard players in a sea of guitars, I was asked to play in soul bands, folk bands, funk bands, and ended up spending a lot of my time figuring out how not to play so ‘jazzy’ all of the time. I was never a huge fan of virtuosity for its own sake, particularly in jazz, and trying to play folk and rock demanded a different kind of subtlety and sparsity that many jazz pianists don’t necessarily appreciate or value. I think the importance of the notes not being played, of space, and of patience continue to influence my playing and my music in all styles.”
Other aspects of the music relate to his time in Berlin: “Berlin has so much to offer, culturally, and there is a spirit of creativity and an anything-goes attitude that I think make it a very unique place. I immersed myself in improvised music while I was there, and was very fortunate to get to play with some incredible musicians and really lovely people. I was particularly thrilled at the chance to play with Toby Delius and Tristan Honsinger, as I’ve long been a huge fan of ICP Orchestra….I’ve always been drawn to improv and the freedom that it offers, but I’ve always gravitated to music that retains strong rhythmic and melodic motives. Misha Mengelberg’s concept of Instant Composition has always appealed to me, and when I improvise I always try to use repetition, tension and release much the same way as if I were composing on the spot. And when I do compose, trying to mix set parts and improvised parts, I want it to sound organic, perhaps ambiguous – that the improvised space is a logical extension of the composed material, and vice versa. What I really appreciate about Mengelberg and other Dutch musicians is their playfulness and no-fear approach, a patience and a willingness to see a melodic idea through right to the end, whether it’s a ballad, a joke, or a joke ballad. It’s always emotive in some way.”
Tyson’s bandmates currently play together in three other west coast groups: Aeroplane Trio (with JP Carter) and Tony Wilson’s 6tet and Longhand. Skye Brooks is also well known as one of Fond of Tigers’ two drummers and a member of Inhabitants, as well as performing/recording with Veda Hille, Ndidi Onukwulu and Orkestra Futura. He also composes, sings and plays guitar in his rock band Copilots.
“Tyson Naylor’s trio music shows a maturity beyond his years. A strong new voice on the west coast creative music scene.”
— François Houle
“Ever since Tyson Naylor knocked on my door to come and jam a couple of years ago, I’ve been intrigued by this open-minded and open-eared musician.”
— Toby Delius