Music releases

Garden Variety

Garden Variety

By Pretzil Stex

Friday, November 18, 2022
Grant Trippel and Jeff Presslaff and Matt Steckler
Exchange District Studios
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Pretzil Stex is a jazz quartet collaboration from musicians who converged in Manitoba, Canada at a certain time and place. Recent Brandon University faculty Jeff Presslaff (piano), Matt Steckler (sax), Eric Platz (drums) and BU alumnus James Hamilton (bass) met weekly during the 2019-20 academic year to improvise, flesh out new creative concepts, and workshop new pieces and arrangements. They performed two well-received shows at Brandon University and CCFM Mardi Jazz in the spring of 2020. 

But the story goes further back than that. Presslaff, Platz and Steckler themselves hail from the northeast USA. Matt met Jeff (a family friend) as a kid, captivated by the latter’s quartet which featured the legendary Cornelius Bumpus (Steely Dan, Doobie Bros.). He also knew Eric as a fellow grad student at New England Conservatory, where the two were often called on to perform with visiting artists Marty Ehrlich, George Lewis, Steve Lacy and others. All four have an association with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra (James’ father is noted bassist and educator Steve Hamilton), and for those familiar with the music community in that region, the project had been one of the most anticipated groups in the making. 

As individual artists, the musicians have also been heard with Matty Stecks & Musical Tramps, Ron Paley, Papa Mambo, Carrie Rodriguez, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Jim McNeely, Lonnie Plaxico and many others, at festivals internationally and at distinguished venues, including the Blue Note, the Kennedy Center and Austin City Limits. 

With this first recorded effort, Garden Variety aspires to spread the gospel that live bands still make something extraordinary from the ordinary. The repertoire is co-written by Presslaff and Steckler, who individually have received critical acclaim for their compositions. The illustrious Wayne Shorter has said Presslaff “gets the harmony just right!,” while Downbeat and Jazz Times have described Steckler’s writing as “delightfully eclectic” and “inspired by greater artistic depth.” The music of Pretzil Stex promises no less, and is best characterized by melodies that stick, (re-)harmonies that bend, rhythms that crunch, and bold improvising personalities - taken seriously, but with a grain of salt…  



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