Interview: Lucas Kadish

Guitarist, composer and arranger Lucas Kadish and his Tundra 4tet play Rumba Cafe on Tuesday, January 10th at 9pm. Tickets are available here. Kadish, a 21-year-old native of Northeast Ohio, is currently studying at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, where he was selected for the prestigious international Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Residency for composition during his freshman year. In his flourishing career, Kadish has shared the stage with a cast of jazz greats such as Les McCann, Javon Jackson, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Dominick Farinacci, Bobby Selvaggio and many more. He has played throughout the US, as well as Canada and at the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland. This Columbus show is part of the quartet’s 10-date jaunt through Ohio and the eastern Midwest over the next two weeks. Keep reading to learn more from Kadish about the band and his career:

How would you describe the sound of your Tundra 4tet?

Lucas Kadish (LK): There’s a sense of adventure that I feel whether we’re playing my original music or playing tunes. It’s very much coming out of jazz and blues, with big influences from European classical and free improvised music. The trio of Theo, Nick, and Connor moves like an ocean of sorts, which provides an open forum for exploration.

Could you tell us a bit about the other members of the quartet? What excites you about the band lineup?

LK: Theo Walentiny was born in New Jersey and grew up in Maplewood. He began with a classical background around the age of 6 and developed an interest in jazz/improvised music around the age of 12. I met Theo in passing once in Cleveland while he was playing at Mahalls. The next time I saw him was on our very first day of college at The New School. We ended up hanging out and checking out Fabian Almazan’s group at the Village Vangaurd that night. We started playing pretty frequently on each other’s music, and began to establish a musical connection of sorts. After a few years of playing together, it’s turned into something really special that continues to surprise me every time we play.

Nick Dunston was born in Washington, D.C., but shortly after moved to NYC where he grew up and still remains. He went to high school at the esteemed LaGuardia Arts High School. I met Nick while I was still in high school, at the Skidmore Summer Jazz Institute. Eventually we both ended up at the New School, where we began playing together a whole bunch in all sorts of settings. In the first couple weeks of school, Nick introduced me to Connor Parks.

Connor is from Orlando, Florida. He began learning guitar and classical percussion before discovering his love for the drums. He moved to NYC for school at the New School (see a pattern here?) and instantly began working with countless different musicians around the city.

After 3 years, the 4 of us have played together in so many situations and have established an exciting sound that we’re just beginning to really cultivate. This tour is going to be a huge part of that.

You’ve played with an impressive list of jazz greats. Could you tell us about a particularly memorable experience you’ve had sharing the stage with jazz masters?

LK: Nick and I had the privilege of playing with Jeff “Tain” Watts last month at the Lafayette Bar, a club owned by Tunsie Jabbour, super nice dude. It was during an Easton pub crawl, so people are hammered, dancing on top of the bar, smoking cigarettes inside the club, and we’re over there setting up for our first gig together. Definitely not a gig I’ll forget anytime soon haha.

What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?

LK: Mahler, Oscar Pettiford, Kings of Leon, Wayne Shorter, Schoenberg, Kenny Kirkland, Coltrane, Big L, Chick Corea…lots of stuff.

How do you feel your time at the New School so far has shaped your sound and your approach to music?

LK: I’ve gotten to study with some incredible musicians while there, but the majority of my shaping has been through my relationships with friends.

What’s up next for you? Any plans for new albums or future projects?

LK: Assuming things fall in place, I should be spending some time gigging and recording in Europe/Middle East this summer.

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