By Nate Smelle
Published June 26 2018
Award-winning drummer/band-leader Ernesto Cervini and his sextet Turboprop are coming to Haliburton to treat a very lucky audience to a special performance at the Haliburton Highlands Museum on Saturday July 7.
The band is comprised of six of Canada’s top jazz musicians on the scene today: Tara Davidson on alto saxophone; Kelly Jefferson on tenor saxophone; William Carn on trombone; Adrean Farrugia on piano; Jim Vivian on bass; and Cervini steering the sound from behind drums.
Having toured across the country several times now Turboprop has developed a significant following that seems to grow with every time they perform.
Cervini and his bandmates’ dedication to their craft and the colossal amount of time they spend on stage together is garnering a great deal of attention and applause from the jazz community. Their sophomore album Rev was recently nominated for a 2018 JUNO Award for Jazz Album of the Year.
“One of the things that people always enjoy when they come to see us play is that we have a lot of fun on stage; there’s a lot of joy and love in the band” he said.
“We are a really tight-knit group and while the music we’re playing is all jazz there’s a little bit of everything in there. I like to make sure to explain what the inspiration was behind the song why we’re playing it and what it means. It gives people an idea of what they’re listening to so it’s not just music for music sake. And it helps them relate to the music because it’s very emotional and personal music.”
Growing up in a musical family Cervini said he first studied classical piano and clarinet before he found his way to the drums. Looking back he said it was his two older sisters who inspired him to dive deeper into the world of jazz.
In fact it was after hearing his oldest sister Amy who is now a jazz singer in New York City practising Charlie Parker solos on the saxophone that he first felt a calling to explore the genre.
“By the time I was in Grade 9 I knew I wanted to be a jazz drummer” he said.
“I knew it was just a matter of putting in the time and the effort but I never really had a question of what I really wanted to do. I was lucky because a lot people struggle with figuring out what they want to do with their life; it can be daunting. It’s a big decision and it can be a scary. I think the decision I made was a little bit scary because deciding to be a musician is a bold decision – there are no guarantees. But I started performing a young age playing gigs when I was 12 and I just always felt at home up there.”
Though jazz has always called to him the loudest Cervini draws inspiration from all genres of music.
A self-described “huge” fan of the band Radiohead he often performs jazzed covers of the iconic rock band’s songs; and even plays in a Radiohead tribute band on the side.
Immersed in jazz festival season Cervini said he has shows scheduled almost every night over the next week and a half. Taking the stage with several bands during this time he said he will be back and forth between a between Ottawa Montreal Toronto Rochester and of course Haliburton.
Some musicians might feel intimidated by such a hectic line-up of performances in such a short timeframe however Cervini is not one of them. Instead he is thrilled to have the opportunity to do what he loves.
“It’s going to be crazy but this is what I live for” said Cervini.
“I can’t wait; it’s always so much fun to play great music with great people at all these amazing festivals.”
As the host of Canoe FM’s Jazz at the 45th program – the sponsor of the performance – Tim Hagarty is looking forward to having the chance to experience Cervini and Turboprop’s music in the intimate setting of the museum. Whether already a jazz fan or not he said listening to and seeing such talent up close in such a unique venue will be a night to remember.
“If you see the jazz and if you’re right there especially in a venue like this it’s a totally different experience” Hagarty said.
“They [Turboprop] are innovative they’re electrifying and they have an energy that is just crazy. And yet they will sit down and play songs that will make you cry. You’ll be just sitting there watching the guys do their thing and they will amaze you. Really it’s all about introducing people to jazz and hopefully getting them hooked.”
Hagarty said the event is also a fundraiser with net proceeds raised going to the museum.
Turboprop will perform at the Haliburton Highlands Museum on Saturday July 7 from 7:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30 and are available for purchase at Canoe FM and the museum. For more details visit www.haliburtonhighlandsmuseum.com; or contact email@example.com; or 705-457-2760.