“Like musical skydiving”: Jeremy Ledbetter Trio brings thrills to worldly jazz

The Jeremy Ledbetter Trio takes audiences on a jazzy musical journey at Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria on Apr. 16. While the trio is named after its pianist and composer, Ledbetter says that the talent of drummer Larnell Lewis and bassist Rich Brown makes it possible to make thrilling music at a breakneck pace a reality.

“They’re basically superhuman. Composing a trio with a bass player and drummer like that. It’s limitless,” says Ledbetter. “Everything’s possible. It’s so liberating.”

Anything is possible for the Jeremy Ledbetter Trio.

A deep rooted connection

Exploring the possibilities of contemporary jazz is the name of the game for the Ledbetter trio. Drawing on Ledbetter’s experience studying jazz-adjacent music throughout Central and South America, as well as Lewis and Brown’s extensive jazz backgrounds and Canadian-Central American heritage, Ledbetter says the trio is all about embracing the endless possibilities of the genre.

“There’s a lot of room for the music to go this way or that,” he says. “That was sort of the idea with the trio, just, ‘Anything’s possible, so let’s see where it leads.’”

It takes time to develop a musical relationship where a band can go in nearly any sort of direction and find success. So despite taking a hiatus during the pandemic, Ledbetter says the group benefits from a few years of experience working with one another. Since 2018, he says the trio has developed a connection with one another that allows for extensive, unspoken musical communication, crucial in a style of music that features heavy improvisation.

“The main way in which what we do has evolved is just the familiarity and communication, the connection between the three of us has become deeper and wider and more instantaneous,” he says. “It’s like at first we were on dial-up, but now we’re on WiFi.”

For Ledbetter, it’s that deep connection, being in tune with one another literally and metaphorically, that allows the band to take creative risks in the heat of the moment.

“We’re playing a song we’ve played a couple of dozen times, and somebody has a brand new idea, and we all go ‘yeah, okay.’ It’s just like we turn on a dime together with no notice,” he says. “Sometimes I feel like I’m not even actually playing music. I’m just sort of going for a ride on a rollercoaster. Like musical skydiving.”

Taking the listener on a journey

For the musician, the point of the trio’s approach is allowing the audience to watch a thrilling improvisational musical approach take place live. But, as is often the case with jazz, there’s a lot that goes into composing a song that can take wild turns and still remain grounded. Keeping with the spirit of bringing audiences along a musical ride, Ledbetter says his compositions aim to create vivid visual images for listeners, carrying them through an evocative musical landscape.

“It’s important to me that the songs have a shape and that they take the listener on a journey,” he says. “Things are changing and moving. There’s a lot of dynamics and a lot of different moods and changes of vibe throughout.”

And what makes that musical journey so special, says Ledbetter, is that it can be different for everyone. While a whole audience might all be listening to the same song, Ledbetter says that the trio’s music aims to stir up the imagination for everyone in a different way.

“The main thing is that there’s an atmosphere that’s created that [enables you to] close your eyes and let the music wash over you and take you somewhere,” says Ledbetter. “Sometimes I’m telling a specific story, but it’s not told in words. So everybody’s going to see something different in their minds.”

For more information about the event, visit: www.caravanbc.com

For more on the Jeremy Ledbetter Trio, visit: www.jeremyledbetter.com