Jazz guitarist plays Plan B tonight

Looking back upon his life, jazz guitarist Mike Rud admits that he caught two bugs fairly early: the moving bug and the music bug. Raised in Alberta, Rud now calls Montreal home but has ping-ponged between Canadian cities more than a few times in his life.

Influenced by the likes of George Benson, Wes Montgomery and Ed Bickert, Rud’s passion for music extends beyond simply playing it. He has pursued various degrees in the music field as well. He jokes that the primary reason why he gravitated towards jazz guitar was after he discovered that he was a “really crappy clarinet player.”

“I enrolled in a two-year music program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton before moving east to Montreal to attend McGill University where I was enrolled to complete a Bachelor of Music with a focus on jazz,” Rud recalls.

From Montreal, Rud would move to Victoria to play keyboards in his brother’s rock band. It was there that he started doing shows on his own and fully immersed himself in the jazz guitar. Rud returned to Montreal a short time later to pursue his master’s degree in jazz and ended up teaching at McGill.

Over the past 14 years of his professional career, Rud has released three full-length albums. His 1997 debut, Whyte Avenue, was recorded in New York City while later that same year, he would quickly follow that up with his second album entitled Chimbe. It would not be until 2005 that he would get his third CD on the market, Live From Lotusland.

And though his solo career continues to flourish, Rud has continued to keep busy as a sideman while also starting a new band, Buckaloose, with Montreal jazz organist Vanessa Rodrigues.

“Buckaloose recorded our debut CD, The 270 Sessions, last May and released it this past November. There is a recording studio in Quebec called Studio 270 that started a line of CDs to showcase. The guys that own the studio are huge audiophiles and asked us to be one of the acts that would be showcased so as such, we had an incredible amount of time to get the CD done.”

Rud says that his show this evening at Plan B on St. George Street will feature him alongside Amy Brandon, both of whom will be playing guitar.

“Over the years, I have found that you can pick up a lot of work in places that you can perform as a duo. Thankfully, the guitar is one of those instruments that allow that to happen.

“We have been having a lot of fun over the past couple of weeks putting together a show that has a selection of grooves, textures and sounds. It ultimately allows us to focus on entertaining.”

Though Rud shares that he and Brandon have a blueprint to work off in the run of any given performance, improvisation still plays a huge role in the run of a show, as it does with many jazz musicians.

“Since we’re playing jazz, we get to do a fair amount of improvisation. There are a lot of pre-arranged parts in the songs but it is safe to say that 100 per cent of our tunes feature improv at some point during the song.”

Article published in February 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript