In this vibrant local jazz community, there are a lot of bands who are focusing on pushing the boundaries of the genre, presenting exclusively original music and incorporating electronic elements into the jazz vernacular. One could probably say bassist James Buckley has played in about half of these groups at one point or another, and the same could be said of other trio members Bryan Nichols (keyboards) and Chris Hepola (drums). This trio is releasing their latest recording, “Knowing and Losing,” featuring Buckley’s melodic and spacious original music.
Buckley first turned people’s heads with Poor Line Condition, a live drum and bass trio with Huntley Miller and Tim Glenn, who started playing together in 1999. A short list of the groups Buckley has/does work with/co-leads: Mystery Palace, Dubsack, Bison Forest, Alicia Wiley, and more.
Minneapolis native Bryan Nichols moved back home a few years ago, and the scene hasn’t been the same since. While living in Chicago, he worked regularly with Von Freeman and Maurice Brown, among others. He was selected to be a resident at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead, a highly selective program for promising young jazz artists and composers. Nichols performs regularly in the metro area with a variety of different groups.
Chris Hepola is a very in-demand drummer in the area, and is seen with a variety of different ensembles playing jazz, pop, folk music, and much more. Regularly seen with Balkan brass band The Brass Messengers, folk-pop soundscape artists Painted Saints, and playing keyboards with string ensemble The Poor Nobodys, Hepola brings a wide variety of musical experiences to Buckley’s music.