Jazz envoys bring York influence to an international audience

Steve Koven trioThe Steve Koven Trio will represent both Canada and York University at international cultural events this week. Their tour includes a series of concerts and a public presentation in Trinidad and Barbados, where they have been invited to perform by the Canadian High Commissions in both countries.

Right: Anthony Michelli (left), Rob Clutton and Steve Koven

Led by pianist Steve Koven, with Anthony Michelli on drums and Rob Clutton on bass, the trio has a close connection to York University. Both Koven and Michelli teach in the Music Department in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York.

The trio will open the San Fernando Jazz Festival, featuring both international and local jazz talent, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on Nov. 11. While there, they will also give a private concert for the Canadian High Commissioner to Trinidad and visiting dignitaries.

Koven, who celebrates his birthday on Nov. 11, said: “I’m looking forward to a great birthday party debut, and to giving patrons a style of music that makes listening a pleasure.”

Well-known on the Caribbean festival circuit, the Steve Koven Trio has previously appeared at the jazz festivals of Barbados, Jamaica and Nassau, Bahamas, sharing the stage with such artists as Nancy Wilson, John Pizzarelli, T.S. Monk and John Williams to critical acclaim. Al Peabody of the Barbados Press hailed “a great young Canadian talent, pianist Steve Koven. Steve was the kid who stole the show. This group lit the place up…it was a memorable, remarkable performance.”

The trio is returning to Barbados on Nov.13 to participate in the National Cultural Festival, where they have been invited to conduct a masterclass and perform for young music students. They are also bringing a gift: big band charts from York University’s Jazz Orchestra, directed by Al Henderson.

The charts, a resource tool to help young jazz artists improve their solo and ensemble playing, will be donated to the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados at a presentation hosted by Michael Welsh, the Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados.

“We’re very proud to represent Canada and York University at global cultural events,” said Koven, who helped inaugurate Canada Month on Barbados with a solo concert last June.  “Many people in the Caribbean are curious about jazz and things Canadian. These performances give us a chance to inspire new and eager audiences for jazz, while introducing them to Canadian musicianship.”

Based in Toronto, the Steve Koven Trio has been performing nationally and internationally since 1993. Their discography includes their most recent CD, All the Time in the World, as well as Lifetime (2002), Not by the Elbows (2002), Sandbox (1999) and Steve Koven Trio Live (1997).

Individually, each member of the Steve Koven Trio is an accomplished instrumentalist:

An alumnus of York University’s Music Department, Koven (BFA ’87) is a versatile jazz pianist, composer and educator. In addition to performing with his trio, he enjoys an active solo career, appearing throughout Canada, the US, the Caribbean and Europe. He has composed for film and television and has been teaching for 18 years. Currently, he teaches contemporary improvisation and jazz piano at York.

An international performer and recording artist, Michelli has toured extensively in Japan, the United Kingdom and Mexico and has worked with many distinguished musicians including Ranee Lee, Oliver Jones, Ed Bickert, Don Thompson, Joe Sealy and Mike Murley. He teaches jazz drumming and rhythm studies at York.

The classically-trained Clutton has worked as a sideman with Moment, NOJO, Jazzstory, the Ryan Driver Quartet and others, and is engaged in collaborative projects with musicians such as David Mott, Nick Fraser, Doug Tielli and Eric Chenaux. He has released three CDs featuring his own band and compositions.

For more information about the trio, visit the Steve Koven Trio Web site.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, Faculty of Fine Arts.