Schwonik’s jazz ensemble plays The Hub

  • Aug. 27, 2010 10:26 p.m.

Showcasing his tremendous musical skills, drummer Karl Schwonik will be heading to The Hub July 13. Promising to be an outstanding performance as always, and featuring legendary Canadian saxophonist Remi Bolduc, showtime is set for 7 p.m.

Schwonik will be joined by his jazz ensemble which includes pianist Chris Andrew, bassist Kodi Hutchinson and James Davis on trumpet.

It’s certainly been a hectic and richly creative time for Schwonik since his last show in town back in January, which was part of an extensive 29-date national tour.

February then saw the Calgary-based Schwonik log another 10,000 kms through the U.S. as well.

There wasn’t much time for a break as in March, he and his wife, cellist Andrea Case, ventured down to New York City for a three month stint to study music, meet accomplished musicians and take in a multitude of first-rate shows featuring some of the finest jazz artists around these days.

“We probably saw between 50 to 60 shows,” he says during a recent chat. Soaking in the sounds of such an array of musical giants has a tremendous impact. “It totally changed my perspective on playing, and it helps me refine what I’m doing,” he explains.

Schwonik, who is visually impaired, grew up in rural Alberta where he was exposed to musical influences ranging from polka tunes to jazz. His folks got him started with violin lessons at the age of five, although he never really took to the instrument.

In Gr. 5, band was compulsory at his Wetaskiwin school so he opted to take up percussion.

Immediately, he knew he had found the right instrument for him and asked his parents if he could take drum lessons. But they still had their heart set on the violin, he adds with a laugh. Initially they even suggested that if he wanted to take drum lessons, he’d have to pay for them himself. But it all ended up to be just the right thing.

When he was fresh out of high school, he hit the road with two-time Canadian Country Music Award nominee Heather-Dawn. This was followed by an invitation to study at the Banff Centre where Schwonik was the youngest artist ever to be a part of the long-term career residency program.

The accolades have been plentiful as has the critical acclaim ever since. Schwonik was named one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2009 by Avenue magazine. He also enjoys sharing his skills with emerging musicians — he recently become the president of the Wetaskiwin Jazz Society and artistic director of the Wetaskiwin Jazz Camp.

Meanwhile, prospects for the talented Schwonik just keep on brightening. He played at the Montreal Jazz Festival this past weekend to a potential audience of up to about 20,000 people.

But Schwonik wasn’t too jittery about the whole affair which he is thrilled and grateful to be a part of. “It’s not often that I get to play for more than 500 people,” he says. “But after a certain amount of people, it’s kind of the same.”

He’s just happy to be able to share his passion with others – even on those days when he’s feeling a bit road weary. No matter. Once Schwonik hits the stage, he’s infused with an electric energy and gives it his all.

“It’s kind of an odd thing – like an out of body experience,” he says with a laugh.

Tickets for his Red Deer show are available at L’ACFA (4936B Ross St. or by calling 403-986-4350.

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