Road to Django

Local violin whiz Cam Neufeld has been a fan of the late great Gypsy jazz guitar pioneer Django Reinhardt for longer than he can remember.

"There was a kind of passion and depth of musicality in Django's playing that led me to search for the roots of where that came from," he said.

To that end he travelled to Asia twice in the past couple of years - to Rajasthan, India, Turkey and elsewhere - to search out the roots of Gypsy music first-hand. He even dropped into Paris on the way back to see what Reinhardt's legacy had wrought and played at a festival of Gypsy jazz.

Now, to mark what would have been the man's 102nd birthday next week, Neufeld is heading up a musical birthday party Sunday, dubbed Road to Django. The occasion will be packed with talent, including four dancers and a birthday cake.

A dozen musicians are involved including Ben Sures (Swing Manouche), Billie Zizi and the Gypsy Jive, Jim Findlay, Bob Tildesley, Don Ross, Dwayne Hrynkiw and more.

The Road To Django happens Sunday at 7: 30 p.m. at Expressionz Cafe (9938 70th Ave.). Tickets are $15 in advance from the venue or $20 at the show.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Versatile Violinist enjoys mingling of genres

Its been said you can tell a lot about people by the company they keep.
On his new concert recording "live at Bonnie Doon Hall" violinist Cam Neufeld has eight of the finest playuers from the cities roots and jazz scenes on board for what he calls the Cam Neufeld Connection. Its a reflection of just a few of the varied associations he's made over the past two decades.
"It's been really good scene for me here in Edmonton" he says, " What I like is the mingling of genres too, like people from the jazz world who play with the country and folk people. It just seems really supportive and songwriters can draw on people from all these different areas. Its a very eclectic mix of talents and that keeps it really interesting for me"
In the end, the most intriguing part of the entertaining live disc has to be how the string man connects to so many diffeent musical genres from Gypsy swing to jazz , Celtic , country , bluegrass, tango , Middle Eastern melodies and more. Neufeld's imaginative improvisations are the key that keeps it happening over the 57 minute , 14 track set of original tunes recorded late last March.
T idea to put out the show on CD hadn't occurred to Neufeld untill Bonnie Doon Folk Club's Hugh Smith make the suggestion. Engineer Mike Tully had a multi- track on hand and after the fact, the violinist came to realize that the live show had the sort of spontaneous feel he wanted.
Along with Neufeld\s versatile violin , the show involved percussionists John Newton adn Dwayne Hrynkiw, bassists Thom Golub and Jim Hepler and four guitarists ; Mo Lefever, Chris Smith , Kevin Cook and Ben Sures. Most tracks feature three or four players at a time , most often with Hrynkiw and Golub serving as the de facto rhythm section.
Neufeld grew up around Medicine Hat, hearing a mix of jazz , country , and opera around the house. He took up guitar at an early age and finally switched to violin at 21. After listening to a lot of horn players , he figured it was the one string instrument that would let him bow something similar to those horn lines. Along the way he also picked up banjo and mandolin.
Although he was writing instrumental tunes from his early 20's , Neufeld says improvisation was his main interest.
"It was the freedom of it , the idea of creating in the moment and the challenge of being able to play spontaneously. It seemed to me that improvising was such a useful skill because it would allow you to fit in with just about anybody and traveling around I was always meeting different musicians so I got to play a lot of different styles."
After spending a few years travelling around the Prairies , Europe , and Mexico, Neufeld wound up in Edmonton in 1985 to study at MacEwan College, for the past decade , he's make a living solely from music, playing and teaching. During his time in Edmonton , he's been part of many different groups including Swing Manouche, the Digs, Back Porch Swing, Crooked Creek, and most recently , the John Henry Band. ( part of the CD release party Saturday) and he has worked an/or recorded with solo performers like Andrea House, Andy Northrup, Kevin Cook and many others.
He continues to find creative inspiration in many corners, most recently in oud music and also from visual art. As Neufeld expains in the illustrated liner notes, his search for fresh aids to improvisation has led him to draw increasing influence from painters over the past few years. Maybe that's one reason his music can generate imagery in the listener.
Neufeld's live album is available at Southside Sound and Blackbyrd Myoozik.

Cam Neufeld

Cam Neufeld is an Edmonton fiddler with a passion for gypsy music in all its forms. His travels with his violin have taken him from Rajasthan to France, with stops along the way in Istanbul and Romainia. Cam has been invited to perform in Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey, and as he was about to leave, he stopped into CKUA for a chat with Lark Clark on World Spinning, April 24, 2011.

A fresh approach from this Edmonton - based fiddler in a genre too saturated with straight-ahead Celtic -influenced jigs and reels.Neufeld probably learned to play in that traditional style because his bowing techniques betray those influences. But he has obviously been listening to a diverse collection of music since then , ranging from Eastern European sounds to avant-garde jazz and classical. In fact, that avant-garde influence is probably most important of all, bringing unexpected rhythms , off-beat tempos and what sounds like improvisation into the mix. And fiddle virtuosity isn't the only thing on display here: Neufeld also regales us with his mandolin and guitar.
****1/2 - Stew Slater
Crossover Connection

Crossover Connection

Tom Murray - See Magazine
Paintings paved the path for Cam Neufeld’s aural improv
For his latest album, Live at Bonnie Doon Hall, local violinist Cam Neufeld used the abstract paintings of Marianne Watchel to inspire his compositions. "I’d get up to write early in the morning," Neufeld explains, "go down and look at a painting for a while. It was almost like stream of consciousness, or a dream state."
Titles like "Phoenix #3" and "Holy Near Collision" make a direct link from painting to song, but Neufeld mostly used his study of the paintings as a passing point of reference in his own writing.
"The energy of the painting is not a direct thing, like a colour doesn’t indicate a certain note," he says. "It’s just a kind of vibe that you get from a painting that you can use as a beginning inspiration."
To ensure that the proper level of improvisatory skill was attained, Neufeld used friends and band mates like Ben Sures, Jim Hepler, Mo Lefever, Chris Smith, John Newton, Thom Golub and Dwayne Hrynkiw to realise his vision. As is to be expected from work by Neufeld and his accomplished and eclectic sidemen, Live at Bonnie Doon Hall is a grab bag of tangos, jigs, waltzes, swing numbers, blues-all performed with verve and immaculate taste. Neufeld will be celebrating the release of his album at the very same hall that he recorded in, using most of the same musicians that he recorded with, both as back up band and in the opening acts.
"There were flaws in the playing, but there were also moments that can’t be caught, except in a live situation," he says. "Live there’s the energy of the crowd, the interplay of the musicians, and that’s what I’m most interested in-so I try to create situations where that happens. Of course, it helps to play with guys like [bassist] Thom [Golub] and [drummer] Dwayne [Hrynkiw]."

Neufeld At centre stage

Local violinist/fiddler Cam Neufeld could have considered renting a tour bus to get all the players participation in his show at Bonnie Doon Hall this evening.
As a popular session player, sideman and collaborator, Neufeld gets his chance to take centre stage this evening with many of the musicians and singers he's worked with over the past decade. The cast of Andrea House , Kevin cook, Terry Morrison , Ben Sures, Mo Lefever, Thom Golob, Chris Smith, John Gorham, and Dwayne Hrynkiw will have more musical styles covered than your average festival.
"I'm excited about the opportunity and the logistics of getting everyone together on the same night was the first thing we needed to get out of the way"
"Its going to be a real challenge to support that many artists , adapt to all those styles and be aware of all the changing nuances" says Neufeld , who was firt introduced to acoustic music via the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the Circle be Unbroken "album.
Then I came under the influence of the great jazz violinist Stuff Smith" added Neufeld, who is recording tonight's show in hopes of using some tracks for a solo album.
Tickets are $12 in advance at Myhre's Music or $15 at the door. Show time at Bonnie Doon Hall is 8 p.m.