A Drinky Thingy

According to Tim Tamashiro, there’s “thinky” jazz and then there’s “drinky” jazz .

“I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the serious nature of jazz, so I wanted to come up with some sort of a name to put it into a bit of a context for the greater population,” he explains.

Oh, there’s also “slinky jazz”, which Tamashiro admits having performed on occasion. But the specialty of the house for the smooth-toned Calgary singer is a cocktail of stylings from the drinky side of the menu.

“I do drinky jazz because it’s fun. It’s meant to have people come out and bring the fun as friends, have a couple of drinks and relax, talk if they want, and not really make it all that serious.”

Tamashiro’s online bio describes him growing up in Blackfalds, Alberta as “a skinny Japanese kid” who learned early on that being different was something special.

It was what he calls his “differents” (for instance, he boasts of being “probably the world’s most acclaimed noseflute player”) that led him to try his hand as a performer three decades ago.

“I’m 49 years old, but I’ve been singing since I was 19. It’s crazy. I can’t even believe those numbers add up,” he admits.

“It was literally one of those moments when I sat up in bed one morning after I had graduated high school and said, ‘I guess I want to be in the music business.’ And I haven’t looked back ever since.”

For years, Tamashiro was also on the business side of music, as a representative for MCA Records.

“I had a lot of big acts in the ’90s when CDs were still hot: Guns N’ Roses, country stars like Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire, and God knows what else. We covered the gamut, that’s for sure.”

While he has also earned a reputation as an emcee and public speaker, he says that line of endeavour is not really what he calls his centre of joy.

“But the work I do on CBC Radio is really joyful, and it keeps me out of those rubber chicken dinners a little bit, because they don’t always want a CBC personality there.”

After a lengthy stint as weekend host of the Radio 2 program Tonic, Tamashiro succeeded Katie Malloch as full-time host two years ago.

“It’s awesome to be a supporter of Canadian jazz and a supporter of jazz here in Canada,” he says.

“Beyond that, what I’m really thrilled about is to be a supporter of the CBC audience. Tonic is not a jazz show. It’s a show for all of Canada that has jazz music. I’m always very careful about letting people know that.”

This Saturday, he will perform in Haines Junction, backed by Vancouver’s Tim Webb Trio, followed by a Jazz on the Wing performance at the Yukon Arts Centre on Sunday.

The trio consists of Webb on piano, his wife Jodi Proznick on bass and Jesse Cahill on drums. The four have played together previously, and will be cutting an album of “all up-tempo” jazz tunes in April.

Tamashiro is non-committal about the bill of fare for this weekend’s “drinky” sets in Yukon.

“I never know what I’m going to do until I do it. I keep the band on their toes, let’s put it that way,” he chuckles.

“If the theme to “Love Boat” pops into my head and it feels like a good time to do it, I might ask them to start playing it.”

Information, including times and ticket prices, can be found at www.jazzyukon.ca.

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