All That Jazz

By Jenna Croyle

Because it spans music from Ragtime to the present day and over 100 years now, jazz can be very difficult to define. From its early beginnings in the 20th century, Jazz has developed and spread around the world and has drawn from many different national, regional and local musical cultures giving rise to many distinctive styles, including New Orleans Jazz Big Band Swing, Kansas City Jazz and Gypsy Jazz, bebop, along with many other styles.

Erie, like the rest of the world, offers many different styles of Jazz and this week’s featured band, The Heliotropes stand out as one of Erie’s premier Jazz groups.

Formed in 2007, The Heliotropes is made up of members Katie Chriest on Vocals, Sheldon Peterson on Guitar, David Blaetz on Bass and Alan Chaffee on percussion.

The Heliotropes are a very innovative and musically proficient foursome that performs brilliantly written original music by the bands lead vocalist, Katie Chriest.

Chriest’s stylistic approach to the Mic, sweet melodic voice, remarkable vocal range along with her

tantalizing delivery of her heartfelt lyrics and provocative stage presence makes for a truly enchanting listening experience for all.

Sheldon Peterson’s Guitar licks are overshadowed only by the electrifying way in which he develops a captivating rapport with his audience. Peterson soul-tinged chromatically fluent Guitar strums are simply dripping with talent as he lends great musical color and versatility to every song.

As a superb musician, David Blaetz’s electric upright bass, is a refreshing and unique change of pace for the more commonly used bass of most local bands. Blaetz’s renders translucent layers of music rich colors that fill any venue he plays with powerful mixes of the coolest, grooviest beats and amazing creativity.

The chops of Alan Chaffee more than round out the gifted culmination of musicians that make up this dynamic band.

Chaffee is to say the least a seasoned musician, having performed with many local legendary groups such as Rodger Montgomery Blues Band and Jakes Blues.

All one has to do is listen to the beats that Chaffee lays down to instantly know that he is truly the most innovative, talented and versatile drummers this side of the Mississippi.

Chaffee’s style, time keeping and rhythms are reminiscent of such musicians commonly thought of as the founding fathers of jazz drumming such as Baby Dodds and Christopher ‘Black Happy’ Goldston. Chaffee’s thrilling displays of drumming intensity add a must hear nuance to this dazzling ensemble.

The Heliotropes give their loyal following a pulse pounding and exhilarating show every time, always keeping not only the music, but the total show experience fresh, vibrant and true to the spirit of the music that they play. The Heliotropes are a must see band with a one of kind sound.

For show dates, booking and general information on The Heliotropes, please visit their Facebook Page.