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SoundStage! Talks with John Chiasson
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October 2000

With the dawn of the new millennium, John Chiasson enters a new phase in his professional career. Emerging from a productive seven-year stint as bassist for the Rankin Family Band, Chiasson hits the music circuit full force, offering a professional package designed to appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes. In 1997, the release of Here in the Moonlight -- a collection of light jazz numbers -- marked his debut as vocalist. Both the success of the album and the popular response to the accompanying video featured on Bravo demonstrate the appeal of Chiasson's performance. On record and in concert, he presents his audience with a pleasant, accessible form of jazz -- an approach that allows him to draw on a variety of styles, including Latin, swing, and blues to enrich the listening experience. This versatility lends itself to a range of venues, from an intimate engagement to a large-scale concert setting. In his ability to adapt to the mood of any function, Chiasson creates a musical atmosphere uniquely appropriate to the occasion. His conscientious attitude, combined with over 20 years of involvement in the Canadian and international music scenes, make John Chiasson a performer in tune with both the needs of his audience and with the professional demands of a new era.

SoundStage!: I'll be honest, I picked up Here in the Moonlight when it was released mainly out of curiosity. I thought, quite ignorantly I might add, "What does the longtime bassist for The Rankin Family, a band primarily known for Celtic music, know about jazz?" And I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised to hear just how good it was. Where, and when, did your passion for jazz develop?

JC: I always liked the sound of jazz from the first time I heard it. Also, when my parents would have parties, everyone would gather 'round the piano and sing. My mom would play pop tunes from the '20s-'60s and some of them (like "Stardust"), I still have in my repertoire. To me, a good song is one that will work well in any style. Take Gershwin's "Summertime" for example. We've done it in my group as swing, Latin, fast, slow and even in 5/4 time. It always works.

SS!: Why do you think jazz has come back into vogue over the past few years?

JC: Jazz is a new sound to most people. It's a great alternative to alternative music. Most people live a hectic lifestyle. Smooth jazz presents a nice, easy space to hang out in. I've had a great response from people who need an easy way to relax.

SS!: You mention jazz being new to most people. For those people who are getting turned on to jazz for the first time, would you mind recommending a few smooth-jazz albums, classic or current, which you consider exceptional?