Talking local music with Kristian Vogel.
author: quinn bell | a&c writer
Saxophoning it in. / Jeremy Davis
A wonderful look at Regina’s musical talent.
It’s now been about two weeks since the one of the university’s finest concerts to date: the 2019 Lois and Thomas Glenn Visiting Artist, Wayne Bergeron concert. Now, with music department auditions wrapping up and final recitals just around the corner, it seems a fitting time to sit down and chat with some of our top music BFAs about how the semester has been treating them, what it’s like to play with monster musicians, and what their plans are for the future.
This week, I interviewed Kristian Vogel, a fourth-year student majoring in saxophone performance. Vogel is a regular sight on jazz stages across Regina, and performs with the University of Regina’s Saxophone Quartet, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band. Vogel is also heavily involved with community music, having participated in Head-Start clinics in elementary schools across the province as well as spending time helping out at the city’s various band camps. He spent much of his break auditioning for Masters programs in Montreal and Toronto. I caught up with him this week to debrief about his recent performances with Regina’s top jazzers.
You’re quite involved in the music scene in Regina aren’t you? You volunteer your time with musicians young and old, At this point, are you thinking a career in music?
Yes, music! The way my degrees are taking me, it’s looking classical, but I’m a saxophone player so it can really go anywhere. Even just this morning, I had rehearsal with Jaecy Bells, which is in my mind a kind of pop with RNB and Jazz influence. I love playing with her, it’s lots of fun; my job is literally to show up and play, just “let’s go!” But I just love music, so where I end up is where I end up. I also competed in the [Shurniak] concerto competition yesterday. It was fun, and I sucked, but I’ll take what I learned from it.
Before you left for the break, you had the chance to perform with the Regina Jazz Orchestra, sitting front and centre in the sax section. Can you tell me a bit about how that went for you? And how you got involved?
I got really, really, lucky. Art Neill is the regular bari-sax player and he [couldn’t make the show], which sucks because he didn’t get to play with Bergeron… so, they needed a fifth saxophone. I was going to play bari but we had one song called “Besame Mucho,” which was very, very, very, heavy bari. A very hard bari part. So, Brent [Ghiglione] was like, “I won’t do that to you.” I got to play the second alto.
I was really nervous going into the first rehearsal, cause all these guys are such killer musicians. I mean, I took lessons with Trent [Reschny] last semester — he’s first tenor. Every time he solos, my jaw drops. And then there’s Cam Church, first alto. Cam has his Masters degree from North Texas (he studied at the same time as Sam Bullock, one of Snarky Puppy’s saxes). He sounds so good! I told him, it’s just so easy to play next to you. He’s so consistent, you know exactly what he’s going to do. As second alto, my job is just to sound like Cam, but play my part. When [a friend] came up to me afterwards, she said, “You know I couldn’t really hear you, but I guess that’s a good thing.” Because I was matching my colleagues. It’s really cool to get that.
Playing with the RJO was just exhilarating, really. I don’t get to play like that often. Obviously, they’re a cut above the U of R Jazz Band… Or any group that I’ve played with before. Brent just says, “fix this,” and it’s done. He doesn’t have to repeat himself or mention it again.
A lot of students were visibly nervous before the Bergeron concert. Trumpet players were on edge, drummers were pacing and checking their watches. How did it feel being a sax student in the presence of a brass god? Did you care?
It was very, very intimidating. Especially in the jazz world, you don’t necessarily have to take lessons from someone who plays your instrument. I would have loved to have taken one with [Bergeron] if it weren’t $200 and if I had the time. But there’s so much I can learn from Wayne in terms of musicianship. Everyone was on edge. I was very, very, tense.
How did Bergeron interact with the students? Did he pick up that everyone was shaking in their boots?
When he walks into the back of the auditorium, we’re all just staring at him. Everybody stops. It’s the quietest I’ve ever heard the theatre. Immediately, we’re all like, “Oh my god. This is him. This is Wayne Bergeron!” So nervous, so tense. Then he just casually admits “Hey guys, I left my trumpet in the car over supper. Can you play me an A so I can see how flat I am? It’s never been this cold.” He comes out a whole tone flat, he starts goofing around. We all start laughing, the focus is gone.
So, this is what the best is like. I always thought the best people would be snobs, but he was always cracking jokes (even in the concert. He tuned his razor at one point!). If you went to his masterclasses, you’d see that he’s super generous with his time. His first masterclass went an hour and a half over. So did his second one. He was trying to answer everybody’s questions… He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t do anything, he gives us everything we want, and more.