Carl Schulze might spend his days exploring hard rock, but in his personal time, it’s all jazz, baby.
Schulze is the former president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, and after a lifetime spent in the mineral exploration business, he’s just released a softer side to the world.
No Covers is the first album by Schulze’s band The Hanging Wall Project. The record was launched Nov. 17 and features a host of Whitehorse talent, including Daniel Timmermans on trumpet, Pat Dagnino on bass, Patrick Hamilton on drums and his dad Bob Hamilton on guitar.
Schulze – or Sarge, as he’s known in his musical life – handles the keys and splits vocal duty with Emily Ankrah.
“It’s a compilation of 10 songs that I wrote over almost a 30-year span. The 10 that I chose are my best ones. For the most part, it sort of bridges between blues and jazz,” said Schulze.
The project first got started when Schulze hired Ankrah to work with him and his company All-Terrane Mineral Exploration Services.
“I hired (Emily) to work with me in 2007. She always said, ‘You know, I can sing.’ One time we were working in a place with a karaoke bar and she just blew everybody else away, so of course the wheels start turning a little bit. She emailed me in the fall of 2011 and asked, ‘When are we going to finally record?’” said Schulze.
They cut the record at Bob Hamilton’s Old Crow recording studio.
The album’s opening track is Pleased To Meet You, a cheeky introduction for both Sarge and Emily. The opening lyrics, “Pleased to meet you, my name’s Sarge / My knowledge of music is not very large,” leans heavily on Sarge’s piano skills and follows a lumbering jazz walking bass line.
Things pick up a bit on the second track with a jazz-pop number called Bachelor in three-quarter time that features Ankrah’s smoky vocals and an impressive trumpet solo courtesy of Timmermans’ horn.
Track three, fittingly called Departure, abandons the easy-listening groove with lots of synthesizer and an almost ‘80s vibe.
Dutch Schultz, the record’s fifth number, is also a split from the jazz-blues focus, diving directly into good ol’ rock and roll.
The record is immaculately produced, and the collection of songs offer a good mix of musical styles. The only drawback is that it feels like Schulze and Ankrah are playing it safe with the vocals. There are brief hints that Aknrah has a serious set of pipes, but by the end of the record the listener is left wishing she’d taken just a few more risks and really let fly, especially on the eighth track, It’s Good If You Like It.
For a debut effort, however, it’s nothing to throw stones at.
Schulze is originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, but has lived in the Yukon for more than 20 years. He has also been playing music for most of his life, including brief stints in rock bands in his early 20s. While it might seem odd for a life-long mining man to produce a relatively laid-back and contemplative record, he says he’s not the only Whitehorse artist with multiple personalities.
“I guess you all have your other inspirations, your other passions. So many people here have day jobs and play music at night, or they paint, or they do something else that seems totally incongruous to what they usually do,” said Schulze.
The band doesn’t have any upcoming gigs planned for Whitehorse, but Schulze will be playing a couple private shows in town and one in Vancouver in late January. When he’s not jamming with The Hanging Wall Project, he plays a lot of piano at corporate mining functions and other private venues.
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