Some Jazz for the Record
in the face of live-only jazz, ’58 Belvedere records
Venture out of your house on any given weeknight and there’s a fair chance you’ll stumble upon some live jazz being performed around Eau Claire. The Plus and Shanghai Bistro harbor some of the Chippewa Valley’s most creative minds on a regular basis, and it’s not uncommon to see UW-Eau Claire alumni and students paired up with area veterans and visiting musicians for intense, sometimes one-off performances. But that’s just it: Likely due to their inherently collaborative nature and generally busy schedules, these musicians often favor live settings over recording sessions.
“We really meld well together, a big part of it being that we have a strong interest in free/experimental jazz, which is definitely the vibe that the record hit its stride on.” – ’58 Belvedere drummer Dave Power
Enter ’58 Belvedere, an experimental jazz trio that seems to be bucking the aforementioned trend. The trio, born out of a mixture of collaboration and friendship, features Dean Granros on guitar, Pat Kuehn on upright bass, and Dave Power on drums, and they are gearing up for a mid-January release of their first album, Rustic Libertines.
“Both Dean and I have played with Pat multiple times before, and we really meld well together, a big part of it being that we have a strong interest in free/experimental jazz, which is definitely the vibe that the record hit its stride on,” says Power.
Talks of recording had been swirling for a couple of years before the trio sought to make it a reality, retreating to Granros’ home studio outside of Bloomer. With the engineering assistance of Jaime Hansen, ’58 Belvedere cut the six tracks that appear on Rustic Libertines in a single afternoon in a bucolic environment that felt akin to a “quieter, simpler April Base,” in the words of Power.
The arrival of Rustic Libertines was prefaced with “I Don’t Know,” a pulsating six-minute effort shared by the trio in mid-December. Like a majority of the cuts on the album, the blueprint of the song was penned by Granros, who’s a big player in the Minneapolis jazz scene, having collaborated with the likes of Dave King, the drummer for The Bad Plus and Happy Apple. But all of his arrangements benefit from the input and interpretations from Power and Kuehn, the latter of whom adds a rigorous bass ostinato that really drives “I Don’t Know.”
The final two tracks on Rustic Libertines are unique in that they are free form and written completely on the spot. “It was something we were definitely planning on doing going into the recording session,” says Power, “and it’s especially fun to hear those tracks after the fact.”
Rustic Libertines is slated for a Jan. 13 release online via ’58 Belvedere’s Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages. Although Power mentions offhand that Granros might manufacture some CDs to sell at shows, the trio’s lack of scheduled live performances makes that task significantly less pressing. Born from a scene that hinges on emotive expressions from the stage, ’58 Belvedere retain the unique distinction of being strictly a recording project, a fact that sits well with the trio.