Grand Valley Lanthorn’s story on Brad Fritcher + trois!
Local group defines jazz in it’s own way
by Mary Mattingly
Multi-faceted musicians make up a multi-faceted band. Hailing from a variety of genres—everything from classical to metal to jazz—Brad Fritcher + trois has taken off in the past few months, finding an enormous amount of success in a short amount of time.
“We have a jazz base, but we love fusing together our styles and influences to create a diverse experience for the audience,” pianist Dutcher Snedeker said.
Brad Fritcher + trois is made up of Brad Fritcher on trumpet, Dutcher Snedeker on piano, Ryan Wallace on bass and Christian VanDuinen on drums. While Grand Valley State University can only claim Snedeker and Wallace as students, the group is a refreshing collaboration between GVSU students and local, accomplished musicians.
Though it formed only a few months ago, it has already released an album and appeared on Blue Lake Public Radio. Performing original material and jazz standards, the group has undeniably developed its own flavor.
“Tunes are written mainly by myself and [Fritcher],” Snedeker said. “[However], we all contribute to the final arrangement, as some tunes are jazz standards that we take in our own way.”
Sets often consist of a true blend of genres.
“We might play a blazing swing tune, a Walter Smith III tune, originals conceived in the vein of Jaga Jazzist or Robert Glasper, or arrangements of hip hop and grunge tunes in the same set,” Snedeker said.
Now a junior at GVSU majoring in piano performance, he has been with the group since its inception.
“Brad Fritcher was looking to make a group and we got connected a little after the start of second semester [in 2013],” Snedeker said. “After a couple of meetings, we brought drummer Christian VanDuinen into the fold, and then shortly after Ryan Wallace was added to round out the group around Spring Break.”
Once it formed, the group immediately got to work.
“Before we even got regular gigs together we recorded our album at Blue Lake Public Radio’s studio,” Snedeker said.
The album, “Blue Lake Studio Sessions,” was released June 11 and is currently available for streaming. With an eclectic array of tunes ranging from smooth jazz to more experimental tracks, the loosely-defined jazz album features original tracks such as “Smooth Silk” and “Sunset West.” Listeners can count on smoky interjections of trumpet, stable, driving bass lines and waterfall-like piano playing, with a rock steady drum core grounding the sound.
Even before the album was released, the group was busy performing, snagging a spot May 13 on a Blue Lake Radio show hosted by Lazaro Vega, a former jazz writer for the Grand Rapids Free Press. The band is not about to slow down either; it will already be heading back to the recording studio before the beginning of the 2013 fall semester.
“We will be in the studio this Fall to record album two,” Snedeker said. “So, we are working hard on shelling out tunes that are more modern, more challenging as a group to play, and arrangements and originals that are distinct in their presence on the album.”
Aside from preparing for its second trip to the recording studio, the group currently plays every Monday night at Skeetown Tavern in Muskegon. Upcoming performances include a show at downtown Grand Rapids’ Eastown Street Fair on September 14.
“We are also set to play Art Prize 2013 in the Fall, and our venue will be St. Cecelia,” Snedeker said. “We are entering the track ‘Smooth Silk’ off our album, a track that I wrote for the group.”
Brad Fritcher + trois offers the group invaluable experience in what it’s like to be a professional musician.
“We all gain knowledge and experience from each other, which is always great,” Snedeker said. “The best part is just knowing that while we’ll all make mistakes, we can trust each other to compensate and hold our ground, rather than having to be the platform that holds another player up…Sometimes there is a weak link in a group that holds others back from playing to their fullest potential, but not so with this group. Everyone knows what they want out of music and everyone works hard to improve while not getting overconfident after a great gig.”
The group looks forward to the future and is tackling its goals one at a time.
“We’re very excited to get album two going,” Snedeker said. “It’s going to be an even better session.”