Brad Fritcher trois makes Jammies debut
The Jim Shaneberger Band played as a competitor in the WYCE Jammie Awards. Pictured is Jim Shaneberger. GVL / Hannah Mico.
New talent rubbed elbows with some of Grand Rapids’ most recognized and celebrated groups at Friday night’s installment of WYCE’s Jammy Awards. Brad Fritcher trois, a jazz quartet made up of several students from Grand Valley State University, attended for the first time and in doing so only added to its growing reputation.
“I thought it was really cool that (as) a group that had only been around for a year, and we’d only played on WYCE once, that the community was already supporting us (among) the huge amount of other groups,” said Dutcher Snedeker, pianist of the group. “It was really cool we got that support and that people put us up for more than one category.”
This year, Brad Fritcher trois was nominated for three Jammy awards: Best Album by a New Artist, Best Jazz Album and Album of the Year.
The band includes Brad Fritcher on trumpet, Christian VanDuinen on drums, and GVSU students Dutcher Snedeker on piano and Ryan Wallace on bass. From the release of its first studio album, “Blue Lake Studio Sessions,” to a win in the jazz category of the 2013 ArtPrize/St. Cecilia song competition, the group has gained nothing but accolades since its formation last year. The quartet does not plan on slowing down either; with three nominations at the 2014 Jammies, the band shows a lot for the short time it’s been together.
The Jammies are an annual awards show put on by WYCE, a Grand Rapids-based independent, community radio station. The event, which celebrated its 15th year Friday night, recognizes the work put out by local musicians and gives out prizes for categories such as Album of the Year and Best Album By A New Artist.
“Grand Rapids’ jazz scene is more vibrant than some might believe, boasting a bevy of veteran, talented musicians. But Brad Fritcher trois really stands out as young, boundary-pushing players who churn out tasty contemporary jazz, which still pays homage to some traditional jazz greats,” said John Sinkevics, editor and publisher of LocalSpins.com. “I’ve rarely seen guys this young who’ve jelled so fast and made the kind of impact they’ve had in such a short time period.”
Snedeker said he appreciated that the quartet was nominated for awards that were not limited to jazz, and he was honored to be in the same categories as other Grand Rapids’ greats.
“Especially with established jazz icons of Grand Rapids, to see our group name among Randy March, organissimo and the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Edye Evans Hyde — that was really cool to see,” Snedeker said. “To have our album in that mix was awesome. We’re fresh out of the gate and it’s cool to have those nominations come our way.”
The group kicked off its first Jammy appearance playing the first slot of The Stache stage lineup. The group played songs from its upcoming album, including “Mind the Gap,” which was written by Wallace, and “Foolin’,” written by Snedeker. It also covered “Mhmm” by Flying Lotus featuring Thundercat. The dimly-lit stage showed off members’ effortless improvisation, onstage communication and instruments’ contrasting textures.
“We came up with (the set) about five minutes before playing,” Fritcher said. “(The Jammies introduces) new guys to the social hang (with other local musicians.) It’s a great way to get our stuff out in a broader community.”
Although the band ultimately did not take home any Jammies this year, the band’s experience just serves as fuel to continue its hard work.
“We’re just gonna keep trying to win a category, keep outdoing ourselves,” Snedeker said after the show. “We hope to play it again next year and continue to be a part of the Grand Rapids scene.”