Home Street musicians In-demand keyboardist Jason de Couto brings his Hammond B3-led dAB Trio to the Powell Street Festival

In-demand keyboardist Jason de Couto brings his Hammond B3-led dAB Trio to the Powell Street Festival


If you’ve ever been out and seen local cover bands or Vancouver jazz gigs, chances are you’ve heard Jason de Couto’s piano, organ or synth. He’s one of the city’s most in-demand keyboardists, performing with bands such as Meridian, Rain City 6, Side One, and Steely Dan tribute band Steelin’ In the Years, as well as various lineups of his own trio. of organs.

Jason De Couto Trio Video – Softly As In A Morning Sunrise @ Guilt & Company, Sep 10, 2018

He has also accompanied Gabriel Mark Hasselbach and Goby Catt, shared the stage with Cory Weeds, Jodi Proznick and Bill Runge, and performed at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Harmony Arts Festival, the Illuminaires Festival and the Vancouver Writers. Festival. And this weekend (July 30 and 31), he will give two concerts at the Powell Street Festival.

The guy is really moving.

“I kind of find myself straddling two worlds of the local music scene,” de Couto says, online from his South Van home near Fraser and 41st. “One is kind of into jazz-funk and creative music, which I really love and which are almost more like passion projects, and then I’m also into the more, I guess, lucrative world of bands. ‘events.

Rain City 6 Official Band Video Video | Vancouver Dance Group / Event Group

“I’ve played with a lot of different cover bands,” he adds, “and right now I’m in a couple that I really appreciate. One that I’m really proud to be a part of, that I I just love I’ve come my way over the last couple of years is a band called Side One I really like working with them because they’re so professional and so well organized and they pay very fairly and they seem to really respect the musicians who play with them.”

De Couto, who has been teaching music for 15 years at various elementary and high schools in Metro Vancouver, and this fall will be an instructor at Lord Byng High School, has been making music most of his life. He grew up in a home where his parents eagerly encouraged him.

“I noticed early on that it was something that really resonated with me and was really important to me,” he says. “Obviously on an emotional and spiritual level – and I guess psychologically – it hit me hard. But also on a biological level. I’m on the spectrum of the perfect ear, so this was one of those things where, taking my piano lessons very early, I was always able to pick things up a little bit quicker, especially the ear training exercises and all that. there was just something there, inside me.

Video of Steelin' In the years

At the age of five, de Couto was studying piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and he grew up playing classical music, but by the time he was in high school in the early 90s, his musical interests took an abrupt turn.

“I was really starting to get into rap and hip-hop,” he explains, “and as I got into high school, I tried deeper and deeper to learn about it. ‘where did the samples come from in a lot of things that I was Because, as you might know, a lot of hip-hop music of that era was doing really creative things with sampling at that time, and I remember being really intrigued by a lot of musical aspects, I got into deejaying and record collecting, and I started to realize that a lot of the sampled music was from those old jazz records and of funk.

“So that really piqued my interest, and then I realized, ‘Oh, well, maybe this could be a new direction for me, with my piano playing,’ because I loved classical playing. , but I didn’t like it. to like. Towards the end of high school, it started to get a bit dry for me, and jazz, on the other hand, seemed so exciting and captivating.”

De Couto’s newly discovered love for jazz led him to attend Capilano College and earn a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies, with a focus on jazz piano.

“It was a really good experience,” recalls Couto, whose last musical purchase was the McCoy Tyner Trio’s 1995 album, Infinite. “And not only was it great for the course content and the musical content, but it was also great as a start-up center for networking. I think a lot of students who come through Capilano will recognize that it’s a place great for meeting like minded people and really starting to have gigs.”

Video of Impressions

Hundreds of gigs later, de Couto is aiming for the next one, which will see his dAB Trio – featuring him on Hammond B3 organ, with guitarist Alvin Brendan and drummer Bernie Arai – performing at the Powell Street Festival this Saturday (June 30 ). The following day, de Couto will hold another festival gig in Oppenheimer Park, alongside local indie-pop singer Kaya Kurz.

De Couto has played in organ trios with Arai and Brendan before, but never with all three together, so there’s sure to be a fresh, adventurous vibe to the combo’s mix of jazz, funk, pop, Latin and blues. , with influences ranging from organists Jimmy Smith, Dr Lonnie Smith and Jimmy McGriff to de Couto’s personal favorites such as Larry Goldings, Sam Yahel and Joey DeFrancesco.

“I use the Powell Street Festival shows as an opportunity to do something new,” he points out, “or at least to work with musicians I’m not used to working with. And the Powell Street Festival is a place where they advocate and support musicians and people of Asian-Canadian descent, so I’m trying to make an effort to create bands that will celebrate that. So obviously Bernie Arai is Japanese and Alvin Brendan is of Filipino descent.

Brendan is a promising young guitarist, while music veteran Arai might be as in demand as a drummer on the local scene as de Couto is a keyboardist.

“I think Bernie is an incredibly musical drummer,” de Couto raves. “Very creative. Definitely a force to be reckoned with. He’s a very careful listener, so it’s quite fun to play with him because he’s very interactive, and sometimes when I’m watching him while we play together, he will be very expressive not only in his playing but also in his facial features.So he will give me a smile if there is something he likes, or maybe he is laughing at something something that happens a bit unexpectedly. I really respect him on a lot of levels, not just as a musician but as a human. And he’s also a father.”

Jason de Couto’s dAB Trio performs at the Powell Street Festival’s Street Stage at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Alexander Street on June 30 at 1:15 p.m. De Couto will also perform with Kaya Kurz on the festival’s Diamond Stage at Oppenheimer Park on July 31 at 5:30 p.m. Check out the full festival schedule here.