Northern Lights is a collective of some of Calgary’s most popular freelance musicians performing a mixture of traditional and contemporary jazz styles. Northern Lights evolved from a number of ensembles that have consistently worked toward the development of spacious and interactive music which evokes the unbounded expanse of the Canadian prairies. The configuration of the ensemble varies, drawing on its members Deb Rasmussen (vocals), Keith Smith (guitar), Kai Poscente (bass), Robin Tufts (percussion) and Simon Fisk (acoustic bass). Northern Lights repertoire includes songs by guitarist Keith Smith and vocalist Deb Rasmussen. Influences include Bill Frisell, Pat Metheney, Charlie Haden, Abby Lincoln and Shirley Horn. Northern Lights members perform on Calgary’s best club and concert stages. Between them, they have played the breadth of North America, the British Isles and Mongolia.
In 2006, Northern Lights headlined at the Giant Steppes International Jazz Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia where they performed in concert and conducted workshops to promote the development of improvisational music in that country. Northern Lights returned to Mongolia in 2008 for the Giant Steppes Festival and to embark on collaboration with Mongolian traditional musicians, Altai Khangai. They subsequently toured Canada with Altai-Khangai to celebrate the 35 anniversary of Canada-Mongolia relations. The collaboration was captured on the 2009 recording “Northern Lights – Altai Khangai”. The Northern Lights Trio make its third appearance at Giant Steppes VIII in October, 2014 where they will perform and lead workshops in jazz performance.
Deb Rasmussen: Debra’s material includes jazz standards and her own originals. Deb has performed at the Calgary Jazz Festival “Party in the Plaza” and the Sylvan Lake “Jazz at the Lake” Festival along with the Keith Smith Trio. She has been featured at the Cliff Bungalow Jazz Series, the BeatNiq Jazz and Social Club, the PiqNiq Café, Niko’s and the Bears Den. With “Calgary Women in Jazz”, she annually presents an International Women’s Day concert, a Christmas benefit concert and the popular show “Favourite Females of Jazz” which features iconic jazz vocalists through song and stories.
Keith Smith: Keith Smith leads the Keith Smith Trio, and is a resident member of The Amos Garret Jazz Trio, The Penny Sanborn Trio and Northern Lights. He also played with the Prime Time Big Band for 4½ years. Keith’s calls range from The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Newton Wayland Pops Concert and the Canadian premier of the Ainadamar Ensembles and Arias by Golijov recorded by CBC Radio 2 2008), Phil Dwyer's , Hugh Frazer's and Ross Taggart's performances for The Jazz Is Society of Alberta to folk music with Chris & Beth Sandvoss (Chisel Creek).
Kai Poscente: Calgary native, Kai Poscente, is a first call sideman on the Calgary scene. Kai has been a member of the Prime Time Big Band since its inception in 1994, performing with Tommy Banks, Guido Basso, Phil Nimmons, PJ Perry, Don Thompson, Marvin Stan, Pat La Barbara, Clark Terry, Bobby Shew and Bob Mintzer amongst others. Kai has been a member of the Stampede Youth Talent Search band for over 15 years under the direction of Canadian jazz legend, Al Muirhead. Kai also co-leads, with Keith Smith (guitar), the Calgary trio, Estate.