Touching Bass with Yukon Friends

Jazz Yukon is delivering yet another one-of-a-kind show next week. On April 23, Toronto bass player George Koller will perform alongside Yukon percussionist Ken Searcy and muti-instrumentalist Daniel Janke in a concert dubbed George Koller: Jazz Reunion.

It has been decades since the three musicians have played together.

“I have been trying for quite some time to get George up here, and with the help of Jazz Yukon, we were able to make it happen,” says Searcy.

Koller is well-known throughout the jazz scene, and has played in Whitehorse numerous times in the past.

“I’ve played maybe four or five times with Julie Michels, Ken Whitely, Daniel Janke, to name a few various Frostbite and jazz events” Koller says.

“A most memorable moment was playing sitar and kora with Daniel Janke out in nature. Then I went canoeing in the crystal clear morning and lost perception of up and down as the sky mirrored the water perfectly. I’ll never forget that,” he adds.

Koller started his musical career in jazz playing the bass.

“I gravitated towards the sound of the bass, and dove deep into it with many hours of ear-training practice to the radio, then classical orchestra. This led to folk, rock,

jazz… everything,” he says.

“Then I discovered Indian music, and dove into that as well. Then all kinds of world music and everything in-between. I was able to work in all styles, which helped keep me employed in Edmonton during the early years.

“I think I play about 15 instruments, but the bass is my dearest friend.”

Becoming a successful bass player was no walk in the park for Koller.

“Fate, hard work, perfectly-timed ideas, good fortune, chance, placing yourself in the right fertile conditions to be recognized, having a thick skin, recognizing yourself first, and then let others recognize you,” he says. “Then building on good relationships. It’s quite a mix that has to happen. It includes persistence, if you know you have talent,”

Over the years, Koller has branched out and explored other genres. Some of his projects include producing music for yoga and Indian classical artists. Koller admits he has to be in a different frame of mind to produce this serene style of music.

“The inner peace with nature sounds aspect…they are all equally rewarding. It requires a different mindset…and can be highly addictive in a good way. I have nine solitudes/ nature with music records. I will bring some cd’s to Whitehorse,” he promises.

A side from music, Koller is a gifted poet. One of his future projects is to publish a book of haikus.

“I have hundreds of them,” he says.

Other future projects include a new solo record.

“There are dozens of artists I am producing now – hopefully, more optimum healthy living, mixed with continued world touring with Holly Cole, Laila Biali, Shuffle Demons, my quartet, Eliana Cuevas and more,” Koller says.

Koller joins Ken Searcy and Daniel Janke on April 23 at the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse. Show starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available at $20 from Dean’s Strings.

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