Wawatay News with Robin Ranger

There’s not a lot of jazz players in Indian Country, but musician and composer Robin Ranger, from Fort William, Ontario, is blazing a trail of change. He talked with Wawatay News about his love of the genre, his goals as an artist, and what album got him hooked on jazz in the first place.

In Ranger discovers voice with jazz, Wawatay News writes:

While walking the streets of Toronto in his early-20s, Robin Ranger heard a guitar-playing busker hit a chord that captivated his ears. Using some of the $40 he had that was to last him three days in the city, the Fort William First Nation member paid the guitarist to play the song again.

“I paid attention while he was playing the song and waited until that chord rolled around,” the 39-year-old recalled. “Then I went back to the hotel, picked my guitar up and made the same chord, and it completely affected the way I played music.” Up to that point, Ranger was into rock and heavy music like Tool and Ministry. But the chord – a B-flat minor6 – converted him to a new style. He began to mess around with seventh, ninth and major-seventh chords and wrote songs based on them.

“After a while, another musician friend of mine said, ‘Wow man, this sounds a lot like jazz,’ and I’m like ‘Jazz? I don’t listen to jazz.’

Based on the comparisons, Ranger decided to give the genre a listen. He asked a friend that since jazz is a 100-year-old medium, where should he start. He was recommended Miles Davis’ 1959 album, Kind of Blue. Ranger was immediately obsessed with the album, considered the best-selling jazz record of all time…

Being a First Nations person, Ranger gets a lot of comments about the oddity of being an Aboriginal jazz musician. Ranger estimates there are about six or seven that perform regularly in Canada.

“Jazz chords aren’t something we hear a lot in our communities,” he said. “As a culture, we’re not big jazz appreciators. I hope that’s changing, because jazz is cool. More people should listen to it.”

Read the whole article here.

And watch Robin’s This Endless Night: