Underhill Holiday Show for Food Bank Donations

In 1986 five white guys from T.O. got together to create bizarre mix of jazz, hip-hop, and comedy that sang the praises of riding the rocket and discussed landlord/tenant issues with the local bug population. Being a gawky teenager prone to inappropriate laughing fits, I soon found myself ROTFLMAO as their videos went into heavy rotation on MuchMusic. Little did I know that the Shuffle Demons were a gateway into another dimension, the first step in a long journey that eventually lead me to Miles, Mingus, and Coltrane, in much the same way that Bjรถrk lead me to Autechre and Never Mind the Bollocks lead me to Rock for Light.

More than twenty years later, Demon Rich Underhill is still going strong. His solo debut, Tales from the Blue Lounge, won the Juno for Best Contemporary Jazz Album of 2003, and his latest effort, Kensington Suite, if I may be so bold, kicks total ass. Joined by a killer backing band, Richard's saxophone is fiercely focused and the arrangements are rock solid. He's working with some great musicians on this record, including Erich St-Laurent, who does an absolutely mind-bending guitar solo on the tune "Bike Lane," as well as long time associate Chris Gale on tenor sax. "Chris is great," beams Underhill. "I love playing with him. We blend really well together."

This Sunday, Underhill will be featuring tunes from the new record at his Holiday Party at Chalkers, 247 Marlee Avenue (2 minute walk from Glencairn subway station). It's an early set (7PM), and it's free. That's right, no cover. They will, however, be collecting donations for the Food Bank at the door, so please give generously if you can.

For fans of the old "bop-rap" hits, the Spadina Bus will be pulling into town in the new year as well, as the Shuffle Demons play the Diesel Playhouse on January 20th. This will be the first Toronto area show in two years for the Demons, as well as the first in a monthly series of shows put on by local jazz entrepreneur and Burl Ives-enthusiast Jaymz Bee.

On a side note, Demon Rich asked me to get everyone to come to the Festival of Lights in Kensington Market this Friday to celebrate the winter solstice and fill the longest night of the year with as much light as possible. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Photo by Suzanne Johnson

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