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“I’ve always been drawn to lyrics and the timeless human story
of life, love and loss that they tell.” Deb Rasmussen

Deb and Keith released their duo CD “Heart Wide Open” in 2011. The disc goes straight to the heart of their musical conversation - intimate interpretations of Deb’s original songs and well loved standards, with the occasional twist. A musical journey down the path of love with all its detours, “Heart Wide Open” pairs eloquent lyrics with the rich textures of guitar.

Deb Rasmussen (vocals) has performed at the Beatniq and Piqniq, the Bear’s Den, the Calgary Jazz Festival “Party in the Park”, the “Jazz at the Lake” Festival in Sylvan Lake and the “Cliff Bungalow-Mission Jazz Concert Series”. She’s studied with Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordon, Nancy King, Roberta Gambarini, Cheryl Fisher, Dee Daniels and Viviane Cardinal. Keith Smith (guitar) was a staple of the Calgary jazz scene since his arrival in 1997. He appeared regularly with the PrimeTime Big Band and their many guests including Hugh Fraser, Tommy Banks, Guido Basso and Oliver Jones. He is a fixture in the Amos Garrett Jazz Trio, The Lorna MacLachlin Quintet and also performs in the Keith Smith Trio, a highly interactive Bill Frisell-inspired group heavily based in improvisation on Keith's original material. Keith released his CD, “Afterthought” in 2009.

Deb and Keith performed together from 2003 until Keith's passing in 2016. With the Northern Lights Quartet, they performed at the Giant Steppes Festival (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) in 2006 and 2008 and at the Time Arts Jazz Series at Peking University in 2008. In 2008, Northern Lights Quartet collaborated at the Giant Steppes Festival with the traditional Mongolian group, Altai Khangai. They toured Canada in 2009 and recorded the CD “Northern Lights Altai Khangai”.


nl ak dr "spellbinding"
"the music was simply phenomenal"

Northern Lights – Altai Khangai is a unique fusion blending some of the freshest Canadian jazz with the ancient sounds of the Mongolian steppe. Northern Lights performs spacious and interactive music reflecting the openness of the Canadian prairies. Altai Khangai performs traditional music from the vast steppes of Mongolia. The morin khuur (horse head fiddle), khuchir (two stringed violin), tuuvshuur (swan fiddle) and khoomii (throat singing) evoke images of the grasslands, deserts, mountains, horses and nomadic people of Mongolia, the land that knows no fences. Together, Northern Lights – Altai Khangai play music that springs from the expansive landscape shared by western Canada and Mongolia.

Northern Lights:  Keith Smith (guitar), Simon Fisk (bass), Robin Tufts (percussion), Deb Rasmussen (vocal)
Altai Khangai:      Odontungalag (khuchir), Ganbolt (morin khuur, khuumii), Ganzorig (khuumii, morin khuur, tovshuur)

Northern Lights – Altai Khangai came together to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Mongolia. It began with a concert hosted by the new Embassy of Canada in Ulaanbaatar in October 2008, continued with a tour through Western Canada in August 2009 and ended with a concert for the Embassy of Mongolia in Ottawa in September 2009.

The music selected for this collaboration introduces these separate traditions and moves forward together, blending jazz into traditional Mongolian music and the sounds of Mongolian music into jazz. In the collaborative pieces the musical traditions both echo and complement each other, and as Mongolian musicians add improvisation, a new sound emerges that is a celebration of both traditions and a symbol of evolving together in a partnership of co-creation.

A unique fusion blending the freshest Canadian jazz with the ancient sounds of the Mongolian steppe.