Jazz Generations

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Two generations of Calgary artists explore their common passion – Jazz!  This a once-a-year end-of-summer show experiments with the old, the new and the unexpected.  Carrying the torch for the “more mature” generation are Deb Rasmussen (vocals) and Robin Tufts (percussion).  Leading the charge for the “younger generation” is Ben Isenstein (piano).  Each year, Ben invites a bass player from the younger crowd to fill out the quartet.

Deb Rasmussen is a jazz singer and songwriter living in Calgary, Canada. Her CD, “Heart Wide Open” features her own songs and several well-loved jazz standards.   She has also recorded with the ethno-jazz group “Northern Lights – Altai Khangai”, a collaboration of Canadian jazz and Mongolian traditional musicians.

Robin Tufts is a drummer, percussionist and dance accompanist.  Robin is very active in the Calgary jazz community, playing and recording with his own Trio Velocity and many other groups. In the past five years, Robin has begun a re-exploration of his life-long passion for spontaneous improvisation. This has led to “Music for Soup”, a series of house concerts featuring performances of spontaneous duets with musical guests Keith Smith, Simon Fisk, Raulito Tabera, Peter Clark, Mark DeJong, Bill Horist, Austin Tufts and Jeremy Brown to date. The Music for Soup project has resulted in the release of seven self-produced limited edition CDs.

Ben Isenstein is a pianist and composer from Calgary, Alberta. Since moving to Toronto in the fall of 2016 to study jazz performance at the University of Toronto, he has quickly established himself among a group of dedicated young performers from across the country. Playing publicly since the age of 11, Ben spent his teenage years developing in a wide range of musical settings from folk/singer-songwriter nights and jazz jams to playing around the campfire at YMCA outdoor camps and full-blown rock shows at Calgary’s Ironwood Stage and Grill. After being introduced to jazz by his first piano teacher at 13, Ben was sent a stack of jazz records in the mail by his grandmother. After a few years of listening, the jazz bug finally stuck. Ben was committed to living a musician’s life. Since beginning studies at the University of Toronto, the journey in music has brought many new connections, lifelong friendships and lessons still to be learned. He received the Stingray award at the Ottawa Jazz Festival workshop in 2019.


Special guests:

2019:   With special guest, Al Muirhead, not two but three generations of Calgary artists explore their common passion – Jazz! Special Guest, Al Muirhead (trumpet): People aspire to be master of many skills and Al Muirhead is one who has accomplished this dream and has no plans of slowing down. Whether it is playing a sweet and melodic trumpet solo, composing and arranging for a big band, small ensemble or orchestra, performing one take sessions on recordings or mentoring young musicians, Al is an inspiration in the Canadian music scene and is known as the “Elder statesman of Jazz Trumpet in Alberta”. Gabriela Laconsay (bass), winner of the 2018 JazzYYC Keith Smith Scholarship for Emerging Artists, is one of the up-and-comers of jazz.  She has completed her first year of jazz studies at North Texas and is moving home to Canada to continue her studies in Toronto this fall.  Meanwhile, she’s honing her skills at the one VSO’s School of Music Jazz Faculty’s summer jazz workshop as a teaching assistant.

2018: Mira Riselli’s musical journey began at the age of 4 when she first started taking classical piano lessons. At the age of 13, she began playing the electric bass in her school jazz band after the instrument captured her attention on a number of her favorite recordings. At 15, she added the upright bass to her arsenal, thus steering her along the path to becoming a full-fledged jazz musician. Mira studies in the Jazz Performance program at the University of Toronto. She is excited to bring her talent to the Canadian jazz scene and to see what the future has to offer.

2017: Caleb Davidson Klager is an accomplished bassist, composer and student at the University of Toronto’s Jazz Performance Program. Upon graduating high school, Caleb received the 2016 Alberta International Band Festival’s Jazz Prospect Scholarship. Caleb is active in the Toronto and Calgary music scenes as a sideman and leader of multiple projects, ranging from the experimental and third-stream to classic jazz.