Impressions Jazz Group at Station 8, Winnipeg, gig review: Daniel Hollenberg, Jazz Composer

On July 6, I was looking for something to do after work on a Friday night and I stumbled upon an event called Stop, Drop, and Write at Station 8 Cafe, a very cool little coffee shop and arts venue on Talbot Avenue. It used to be a fire hall. Not just any fire hall, but one of those fire halls designed for engines pulled by horses. The building, constructed in 1906 and renovated in 2014, is absolutely beautiful with arched garage doors, exposed interior brick and high ceilings. A perfect venue. I headed to Station 8 hoping to connect with some fellow writers. Apparently, this invitation goes out every Friday, and I was interested to know what it was all about.

When I got to the coffee shop, the barrista was just opening the door and let me in early. I questioned her about the group and she said “The writers don’t really meet. They come and get a drink and they sit and write. It’s a nice atmosphere here.” A nice atmosphere indeed. The building, home to Riverwood Church Community, has been lovingly restored. The coffee shop area is all new and fully equipped. The open concept lounge is filled with new couches, tables and chairs and is inviting and comfortable. Then the barrista said “We have a band on at 7:30. You should stay, they’re good.” Well, given it’s bands I write about, yeah, I stayed.

The band was called Impressions Jazz Group. The room was set up with a PA and a sound guy. I watched the band do their sound check. One guy seemed to be the leader and was giving direction to the band members. This guy was Daniel Hollenberg.

Daniel told me that their music was all his original compositions. He had created this band with a mix of seasoned performers and community musicians in order to be able to hear his music come to life. He said he was very happy with the group. They were very supportive of his work. Daniel said that his aim was to play for a diverse community and introduce people to jazz, and more to ‘what is’ jazz. He said he also likes to mix in world music by adding instruments like an African djembe or an Australian didgeridoo.

After speaking with Daniel, and hearing how personal the music was for him, I was anxious to hear what he had to offer.

Impressions Jazz Group is comprised of Daniel Hollenberg (alto sax), Sean Irving (woodwinds), Radovan Radulovic (bass guitar), Max Osawa (drums), Adam Ciric (guitar) and Alanna Fast (keys). Also, on this night, guest Djembe player Mpho Mambira. The size of the band and the assortment of instruments means that there is a lot to take in visually while you watch them.

“My aim is to play for a diverse community and introduce people to jazz, and more to ‘what is’ jazz.” Daniel Hollenberg

I have to say, it was nice to sit on the couch and chill while sipping my tea and listening to some smooth jazz. It was also nice to be having tea instead of being expected to buy alcohol. There is only so much of the bar scene you can do while exploring the music scene. I love finding these new venues. The room filled up nicely and I even saw someone I know and got to catch up…and did I mention tea, and couch.

Whale Song seemed like a long one. I found it confusing, but it was interesting too. Not in a ‘turn that off!’ way, but in the ‘this is affecting me and I’m not sure how’ way.  Angst of a Common Man contained a lot of rolling beats, was repetitive and definitely delivered angst. I thought that one was clever. The upbeat song Freedom was my favourite, and apparently the drummer Max Osawa’s favourite as well. He got right into it! Hollenberg’s music seemed to meld jazz, some gentle soul, and an occasional infusion of a funky African inspired heartbeat. It’s relaxing to listen to. It’s not unusual, but draws from the familiar.

Overall, Impressions Jazz Group made a good…well…impression. So did Station 8. I will visit both again.

You can see and hear Impressions Jazz Group on July 27th, 2018 outside the Westminster United Church from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.