The Trevor Dick Band has released a crossover album titled New World that incorporates genres appealing to the progressive music community as well as world music and other roots music elements that will connect to other music fans. The group’s sound is characterized by the acoustic and electric violins of band leader, composer and fiddler Trevor Dick.
You will hear echoes of Jean Luc Ponty-style fusion on some of the more progressive rock leaning pieces such as the exquisite opening piece “Perpetuum” (which has memorable violin overdubs near the end); the classical-leaning “Schindler’s List” with a beautiful electric violin solo that reminds me of the masterful work by Brazilian prog rock master Marcus Viana (this pieces also reappears later in an acoustic version); the funk fusion track “Bourbon St. Carnival”; the mesmerizing electric violin in “East of Sinai Prelude”; the fabulous Middle Eastern-colored progressive rock composition in “East of Sinai” featuring outstanding violin solo work, violin and guitar interplay and overdubs; and the breezy fusion piece “Mother’s Kiss.”
Other tracks on “New World” such as “Change the World”, “Ayangba Village Market”, “Ifriqiya”, and “Cancao para Aaron” incorporate blues, Afropop, Brazilian and Latin jazz beats. There are also a handful of radio friendly smooth jazz and new age-inclined pieces.
I had the opportunity to ask Trevor Dick a few questions about “New World” and his musical background.
Angel Romero – You enrolled in violin and piano lessons at age 7, why did you choose the violin?
Trevor Dick – My mom plays the violin (along with the piano) so I was exposed to it (and all kinds of music) at a very young age and it was available for me to try out. I think I chose it because I was attracted to the lyrical “voice-like” qualities of the instrument and interesting mechanics of how it worked (with the bow, etc) …
AR – As someone with initial classical music training, how did you get into jazz and fusion?
TD – “This began in my teen years as I was exposed and introduced to prog. Rock and Jazz Fusion violin through such players as Jean Luc Ponty, Jerry Goodman, Didier Lockwood and Robby Steinhardt (of Kansas).”
AR – I read that you started experimenting with your acoustic violin, adding a contact pick-up and using effects to emulate Jean-Luc Ponty. Did the experiment work and did the acoustic violin survive?
TV – In a very basic, raw way, the experiment did work and started me on my journey of experimenting with electric violin, electronics and effects. The acoustic violin used in this experiment (an English George Craske built in approximately. 1850) did survive. In fact, I still play this acoustic violin as my principal acoustic instrument to this day!
AR – What kind of violins do you play now and who makes them?
TD – “I presently play and record on Four key instruments:
1) Ned Steinburger – NS Design CR-5 Electric Violin – (5 String, solid body). Watch this instrument featured here: Ned Steinberger himself invited me to become one of his artists ( http://thinkns.com/artists/artists.php ) , after hearing this performance (as recorded on the New World album):
2) Cantini MIDI 5-String Violins (X-Evon II, used on “New World” and a new Sonic model just gifted me by Cantini). Carlo Cantini has just invited me to represent his MIDI violins for all of North America after following my career over the last year. He was especially thrilled with the solo in Perpetuum:
3) An acoustic George Craske violin built in aprox. 1850, England
4) An acoustic custom 5-String viola built by Jacobus van Soelen in 2007 Cape Town, South Africa.”
AR – Some of the musical pieces on the New World album have some really interesting violin effects like the beginning of “Ifriqiya” that reminds me of a willow flute. What effects do you currently use?
TD – “New World” was truly an experiment into tonal diversity and sound/texture possibilities on the electric violin. Effects on the violin can be done with or without effect pedals. For example, the intro to Ifriqiya that you mention was actually produced with very little electronic help at all (just a small amount of reverb and delay). This “willow flute-like” effect was produced through the use of harmonics and harmonic overtones (high up on the finger board) paired with some bow techniques and light, fast finger trilling – sounds made much more present through the amplification of an electric violin. Likewise, the “feedback” sounds you hear in “Change the World” are done through experimentation in finger/bow techniques (also used by players such as Jerry Goodman) With regards to effects, electronics and pedals; I am constantly experimenting with what is out there (regular off the shelf, to wild and crazy).
For the “New World” album, I made the decision to completely rebuild my effects rig and move away from the multi-effect pedals I had previously used to higher quality separate analog and digital pedals. Tone, warmth and clarity were the basis to all my decisions in putting together my pedal board. I mainly use delays, reverb, compression, overdrive and some chorusing in my playing but added some Phaser, Flanger, Tri-Chorus in places … even some Vocoder (where I spoke through my violin in the beginning and end of “New World”). Of course, the MIDI violin is a whole other departure into tonal possibilities.
The Cantini MIDI violin drives the Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer pedal. I was able to double this instrument with some interesting Moog-like synth patches in songs like Perpetuum and Bourbon St. Carnival. This paired with my pedal rig took the electric violin into completely new territory.”
AR – Tell us a little about your current band. How did you connect with the band members? What’s their background?
TD – “I have the honor of working with one of the most amazing bands – great musicians with wonderful hearts. Without going into too many details, we found each other through the music, through colleagues … some band members have been with me over ten years, and others have just joined the band. Our present line-up are: Trevor Dick (acoustic & electric violins), Jake Payne (keys), Tony Lind (guitars), Will Jarvis (bass) and Steve Heathcote (drum kit). Here is what a recent reviewer wrote to sum this up:”
Like any solid ensemble, the Trevor Dick Band is the sum of its parts: Trevor (electric, MIDI and acoustic violin and viola), Tony Lind (electric and acoustic guitar), Will Jarvis (electric and acoustic bass) and Steve Heathcote (drums and percussion). The recording also features keyboard player Brad Toews who’s left for other pursuits. Those parts, individually, are impressive: Will’s performed with everyone from Tito Puente to Amy Sky; Del Shannon to David Clayton-Thomas; Tony’s credits include award-winning works by Ali Mathews, Chris Bray, Jodi Cross, Stephanie Israelson and Deborah Klassen; and Steve’s an award-winning drummer who’s played for Elton John, Shirley Bassey, Rich Little and Bob Newhart.
“Full bios of band members found here (at the bottom) http://trevordickband.com/about”
AR – The Trevor Dick Band’s new album New World, is a departure from your previous works. Why did you decide to head into this new direction?
TD – “This is music I have always been drawn to … music we all love as a band. We were ready for a change – ready to venture into new territory, ready to collaborate as well more fully as a band. This is how it is explained on our site:’
As a solo artist, Trevor’s five previous albums were in the gospel/sacred vein. 2010’s Yahweh won two GMA Covenant Awards including instrumental album of the year. Trevor helmed those recordings, but the combination and arranging contribution of all five seasoned musicians — Brad Toews (keyboards); Tony Lind (guitar); Will Jarvis (bass); Steve Heathcote (drums); and Trevor (violin, viola) — to the songwriting took the Ontario-based group in a new creative direction.
“I was born in Nigeria, Africa, so I have a love for African music, especially West African,” says Trevor, “and another band member, Will, is a specialist in Latin American music — Cuban and Brazilian — so we were feeling fairly restricted creatively in the music that we were previously doing. We were ready for something brand new.”
“On most of our previous projects, I did the majority of the writing and just pitched that material to the band to rehearse and arrange,” says Trevor. “New World was the most collaborative effort we’ve had as a band, where everyone played a much more significant role in the writing and arrangements. Amazing, fresh and exciting things can happen when collaborating fully as a team. We saw this with New World as we worked together at a deeper level and pooled our ideas, musical skills and experience.”
AR – As I understand, you will be playing in folk and world music festivals. How do audiences react to the more progressive and jazz-rock pieces?
TD – “We also plan to play in Jazz/Blues festivals. We find these audiences, when they are first introduced to us, love our music. It is cross-generational, cross-cultural and cross-musical genre stuff. Many of these festivals now are embracing progressive World Fusion styles of music. Yes, there are still Festivals that cater to the “purer” genres/styles in Jazz and Folk, but overall, the World (and festival scene) is becoming a smaller, united, place in so many ways. This is especially true in music. Our biggest challenge is to simply get known … we need to get out there more, play more, be a part of this amazing movement and add our music voice and creativity to the mix.”
AR – Who are your favorite violin players?
TD – “Hmm … there are so many, from classical, to jazz, Celtic, rock and blues … I’ll name a few I have followed:
Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Casey Driessen, Mark O’Connor, Stephane Grappelli, Didier Lockwood, Hugh Marsh, Jean Luc Ponty, Jerry Goodman, Oliver Schroer … and that’s just getting started.”
AR – Canada has produced some really interesting progressive rock fiddlers like Nash the Slash and Ben Mink of prog rock band FM, as well as Ashley McIsaac who mixed electronics wit Celtic music. Have you met any of them and did they inspire you in any way?
TD – “I have not personally met any of these players – have listened to their music/heard some of them play live (ie. Ashley McIsaac) … so I am sure they have influenced me in some way + led the way, so to speak (in their own way) for more progressive styles/expressions of music on the violin. Someone that should be on your list is Hugh Marsh. I met Hugh years ago (previously the violinist with Bruce Cockburn). His brother, Fergus has subbed in on gigs with the band on bass. He also has been an influence. Canada has produced some very fine progressive violin talent over the years. Oliver Schroer was another example of an “out of the box’ creative genius in the folk violin world. I had the honor of meeting him (in an improv. session) before he passed away of cancer in 2008.”
AR – If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?
TD – “Bela Fleck (and the Flecktones), Pat Metheny, Alain Caron (UZEB), The Yellow Jackets, Sting, Snarky Puppy, Phil Keaggy …. so many, those were the 1st that came to mind :-)”
AR – What music are you currently listening to?
TD – “Random posts of players in the Electric String Group (Facebook Group I started for Electric Violin, Viola and Cello players around the World): https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElectricStringPlayers/ Snarky Puppy, The Royal Foundry (folk duo from Alberta Canada) … some old Sting, Infected Mushroom (Trance Band my teenage son is listening to) … eclectic!”
AR – What new projects are you working on?
TD – “I am presently tracking strings (violin, viola & cello) remotely from my home for Studio/Producer out of New York. I just completed performing a solo on a “World Music Project” (featuring 30+ musicians from around the world) which will be released on Youtube this coming week. http://www.worldmusicproject.org/home.html
I have several other projects on the back-burner …
CD releases this Fall so ramping up for that”
New Beginnings (Kerux Music 775587019829, 1997)
5th String Blvd. (Kerux Music 776127221429, 2003)
Glory and Peace, double Christmas CD set (Kerux Music 620673315227, 2007)
Yahweh (Kerux Music 620673332927, 2010)
New World (Flyingbow, 2015)