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Musicans embark on improvisational endeavour

Chris Minvielle and Nathan Boucher formed freestyle jazz/funk duo The Bronze Medalists
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The Bronze Medalists, consisting of keyboardist and guitarist Chris Minvielle (left) and drummer Nathan Boucher, play at Salute in Okotoks.
Two Okotoks musicians have joined forces to create fresh freestyle tunes.

Chris Minvielle and Nathan Boucher formed The Bronze Medalists in the summer, delivering a style they jointly described as improvisational jazz funk.

"The energy in the room when we play has been amazing so far," Minvielle said. "People seem to be responding to our different sound really well."

The creation is a two-way street, said Boucher, with the musicians drawing on the audience as they weave the tune in real-time.

“We try to build a vibe around the feeling in the room,” Boucher said. 

The musical endeavour started as a side project for the two graduates of Foothills Composite High School, with keyboardist and guitarist Minvielle working in banking and percussionist Boucher as a drum teacher.

“I’ve known Chris forever, we used to play some folk stuff on the side with a couple guys,” Boucher said. “When he called me up and we jammed a few times.”

They didn’t find their sound right from the get-go, but the exploration was a joint venture as the two started from a more instrumental place, slowly finding their sound blending in a synthesizer.

“We started with just bass and drum and seeing if we could do loops,” Boucher said. “It wasn’t really working, so we brought in the keyboard.

“At first we thought we’d maybe have to get another musician in here for a bass player, but we found we can do this as a duo.”

This let the two fall in sync, the keyboardist said.

“We can play off each other directly, just the two of us, giving signals and stuff like that,” Minvielle said.

The style, while whimsical and organic, provides a serious challenge for the seasoned drummer.

“It’s so different from any other project because we constantly have clicks in our ears from the metronome playing a click track,” Boucher said. “It’s a lot harder for me because I can’t waver as much.

“In other bands with tempo changes, it doesn’t matter, but with this, if the drums go or the tempo goes, the whole tune goes.”

While the technique is airtight, the two don’t take the same rigid approach to style and genre though, allowing themselves to tinker and experiment. What results, Minvielle said, is a unique creation every single time they unpack their equipment to jam.

“There’s times where I’ll bust out distortion on the guitar because I listened to Tool on the way, or (Boucher) starts playing Latin because he listened to Buena Vista Social Club before I showed up,” Minvielle said. “Last gig, I was influenced a lot by Spinal Tap because my buddy kept playing it.”

While the two are actively seeking venues to play in Okotoks, having recently played to a full house at Salute and Hub Town Brewing, they can be heard at Cafe Koi in downtown Calgary on Oct. 9.

For more information on upcoming shows, visit the Bronze Medalists’ Instagram or Facebook pages.

Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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