The Sugarcane Trio is an unexpected indie-jazz trio with influences that range from straight ahead and progressive jazz, to Motown, to alternative folk and pop. When the trio formed, the expectations were not immediately defined, so their indie-jazz sound has developed organically. And, considering that Aanestad was born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa, Jared Henderson in Sisters, Oregon and Alex Baboian in Belmont, MA, it is unlikely to think that the musicians would have ever met–if it had not been for the Berklee College of Music. Composed of jazz-schooled musicians and led by Jon Aanestad, a classically trained violinist and Berklee World Tour Scholarship vocalist, the trio has a succinct sound, even when they play covers such as Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, or originals like “Missed Connections”.
The trio was born after Aanestad needed a guitarist to fill in on a gig he had booked. The chemistry seemed to be palpable immediately. About the mix of sound, Aanestad said “we realized we all had similar influences and listened to a lot of the same music on a trip down to New York City to play a gig. And, at the same time, we all came from slightly different backgrounds musically, so the tapestry of sound was really interesting. That is always the goal when musicians get together.”
The Sugarcane Trio loves catchy hooks and makes a point to pay close attention to melody in spontaneous improvisation. During live performance, each band members’ influences are imbued on a musical canvas that becomes spontaneously unique: Henderson’s nimble fingers drive the trio forward with an intellectual, woody bass line, while Baboian mixes tasteful jazz stylings with a Motown groove. Aanestad’s hearty and overt vocals soar above violin lines that are heavily influenced by his classical background as well as gritty blues players like Stuff Smith, fiddle players Stuart Duncan and Bobby Hicks, and jazz contemporaries such as Regina Carter. The Sugarcane Trio will perform this summer in the Salem Jazz Festival as well as other locations throughout the New England region, and are currently working on their first EP.