I like Jeremy Kittel. But honestly, I feel like I know very little about him. I like how he plays, I like the classes of his I took at Mark O’Connor Fiddle camp in the past, I like the fact that as a Scottish/Irish fiddle champ, he’s now playing jazz viola as a fixed member of the Turtle Island String Quartet. But every time I read a little bit about what he’s doing now, I feel like I’m reading about a brand-new guy.
The Jeremy Kittel Band concert from Club Passim is streaming live on concertwindow.com right now, and I’m catching the tail end of it. This is the bio for the band on the concertwindow page:
“Jeremy Kittel is one of the foremost of a new breed of fiddlers and violinists who easily navigates between a multitude of musical styles and traditions. Fluidly mastering this rich musical heritage, he also breaks exciting new ground while helping to redefine the role of his instrument.
Currently a full-time member of the Grammy-winning Turtle Island String Quartet, Kittel also leads his namesake group, the Jeremy Kittel Band, into exciting new acoustic music territory. He has toured and recorded with such musical giants as Mark O’Connor, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Paquito D’Rivera, the Assad Brothers, Stefon Harris, My Morning Jacket, and Darol Anger. He has appeared on the NPR radio show A Prairie Home Companion, has been a guest performer with multiple symphony orchestras, and has performed at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Bonnaroo, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.”
The originals that I’ve heard tonight are definitely sounds of a new breed of fiddle/folk music, with juicy otherworldly harmonies that make me say, “What the hell was that sound that just happened between these instruments?” And make me want to transcribe even more. If I had ten minutes with Jeremy, all I’d want to know is, where do you and your band find inspiration for your compositions? Where do these sounds come from? And how do you keep it new to you, this creative process? I figure once you get sounds and styles like these under your belt, you want to pass over it in your hunger for the next new thing.
Quick Kittel bio: US Scottish Fiddle Champ, Masters in Jazz Violin from MSM, studied undergrad at U Michigan where he graduated at age 20, and at least two solo albums out – one Irish tunes, one Scottish tunes. I first met Jeremy Kittel on faculty at Mark O’Connor fiddle camp in San Diego, summer 2007. At the time I knew him as the Scottish Fiddle guy. The thought of Jeremy playing jazz was brand new to me, but if you follow his career, not to him. He’s been studying and jamming with the pros in New York and beyond for many years.
If you haven’t yet, check out his latest album, Chasing Sparks – Listen to “The Chase” and “Remember Blake.” This 2009 recording is off the charts, and does a great job of representing Jeremy’s current sound and style. Enjoy!
Check out more Jeremy Kittel, Turtle Island, and the JK Band on Jeremy’s website, too.
And I just gotta say…man, Jeremy’s playing is smooth as a baby’s bum. Creamy and rich, like the favorite latte that you only treat yourself to about once a month, because it’s special and expensive. Jeremy’s got it going on with fiddle and bow in his own sly, sweet way, a lot like his shy-guy smile.
So enjoy as much Jeremy Kittel as you can, folks.