Skywalk | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Skywalk. Vancouver instrumental ensemble in the fusion-jazz style.


Skywalk. Vancouver instrumental ensemble in the fusion-jazz style. It was formed in 1979 by the keyboard (synthesizer) player and composer Graeme Coleman and the bassist Rene Worst, with Tom Keenlyside (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute), Ihor Kukurudza (guitar), Jim McGillveray (percussion), and Lou Hoover (drums). Kukurudzka was replaced by Harris Van Berkel, and Hoover by Kat Hendrikse, in 1980. Skywalk made its first LP, Live in Detroit (RCI 520), with Kukurudza and Hoover, at the 1980 Montreux/Detroit International Jazz Festival.

It subsequently recorded three albums released internationally by the (US) Zebra label: Silent Witness (1983, Skywalk Records 001/ZEB-5680), The Bohemians (1985, ZEB-5715), and Paradiso (1987, ZEB-42204). Cumulative sales to 1991 exceeded 100,000. The albums have had greater success in the USA than in Canada, as has the band itself: it made a major US tour in 1986, and returned intermittently thereafter. Canadian appearances outside the Vancouver area have been restricted largely to festivals - eg, the 1985 FIJM with its Quebec counterpart, UZEB, and the Calgary International Jazz Festival. Locally, Skywalk gave many school concerts in its first years and has performed frequently at the Landmark Jazz Bar (effectively its Vancouver base 1981-90), regularly at the du Maurier Ltd International Jazz Festival, and on occasion in other clubs and halls. All of its members are active in other jazz, pop, and studio groups.

Most of Skywalk's repertoire has been written by Coleman, who left the band in 1989 to write film scores. His place was taken by Miles Black. Among the band's most popular tunes are First Snow, King of Kansas, and The Country Mouse (Goes to the City) (Coleman), Nepenthe (Coleman/Van Berkel), Larry and Apparitions (Van Berkel), and The Torchbearers (Keenlyside). Skywalk's dynamic 'fusion' of jazz and rock leans more heavily to the latter than the former, in terms of its predominant rhythms, the strong production qualities of its recordings, and the favor it gives to texture and mood over improvisational freedom.

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