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Culture | Busty and the Bass charms Jazz Fest

McGill’s own takes up residency at Le Savoy for three nights

When The Daily sat down with Busty and the Bass Thursday night, the nine-piece band had already played a two-hour set for its album release party at Apt. 200. The band members’ exhaustion was palpable, but so was the playful excitement necessary to power the three-hour set the band would go on to play later that night at Le Savoy du Métropolis, the cozy corner lounge tucked away in the massive concert venue.

Busty transitioned from being that one good act in the OAP lineup to the band everyone was talking about after winning the CBC Music Rock Your Campus competition in the fall of 2014. The $10,000 prize scored them the studio time and production needed to release their new album, GLAM. While GLAM is a professional rendition of the pieces that make up Busty’s live set, it doesn’t hold a candle to the energy created on stage by the musicians.

Bassist Milo Johnson summed up that energy when he explained the idea behind the notorious adjective in the group’s name: “The idea of ‘busty’ is like an adjective, [but] not the usual definition; [it’s when] you’re having a good time and letting go of the world and entering this crazy party zone, where it’s safe, but everybody’s having a good time.” That crazy frenetic energy felt from good live jazz is something Busty almost effortlessly provides, but it is far from effortlessly created.

“The idea of ‘busty’ is like an adjective, [but] not the usual definition; [it’s when] you’re having a good time and letting go of the world and entering this crazy party zone, where it’s safe, but everybody’s having a good time.”

Hatched in the basement of the Strathcona Music Building during Music Frosh, Busty runs on the technical training learned in class. “We all have a base level of technical proficiency,” said pianist and keyboardist Eric Haynes, “so we all come from that baseline and [we] all [speak] the same language [and have the same way of] approaching music […] so it definitely makes talking about music to each other a lot easier.”

However, Busty is far from a textbook jazz ensemble. Because of the members’ varied music tastes, the band puts out cover after cover of familiar songs spanning genres as disparate as hip hop and EDM. One hour into the set yielded a sampled masterpiece driven by Evan Crofton on synth and keys, featuring the wispy “never” and other sound elements from Disclosure’s “Latch” layered with powerful work from the band’s brass section. The packed room exploded with energy as the anthemic favorite pitched the room into an excited frenzy.

Yet, the audience response to the band’s more traditional jazz improvisations was equally as frenetic, if not more. A sublime piano solo by Haynes and gusty saxophone feature by Nick Ferraro had someone in the audience yelling “Holy fuck!” Somehow, the members of Busty and the Bass are able to present a genre of music largely foreign to their peers and get them dancing to it. They succeed in making instruments like the trombone and saxophone current to a demographic who can only vaguely remember John Coltrane and J.J. Johnson.

Now, more or less graduated from the Schulich School of Music, Busty is hitting the road. No longer ‘the college band to watch out for,’ the group must bank on the following it has been able to muster from quick tours during the semester to support it. If last night’s turnout is any indication, Busty won’t have a problem filling venues.


Catch Busty and the Bass at Le Savoy du Métropolis July 3 and 4 from midnight to 3 a.m.. Entry is free.


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