It’s almost a cliché – years of paying dues to become an overnight success – but that’s what happened with Time Warp, the Toronto based jazz quartet of Barry Elmes (drums), Al Henderson (bass), Kelly Jefferson (tenor & soprano sax) and Kevin Turcotte(trumpet & flugelhorn). Formed in 1980 by co-leaders Elmes and Henderson as a vehicle for writing and performing original music, the band became an ‘underground’ hit, releasing five recordings between 1982 and 1992 (garnering three Juno nominations), and led the way for many other Canadian jazz groups. Time Warp forged a unique style and original repertoire, drawing on musical and cultural influences from around the world, long before the term “world music” was widely known. Today, while still firmly rooted in the long tradition of improvised jazz music, the band’s vast repertoire has grown to include original compositions influenced by the rhythms and harmonic structures of various cultures, including: West African music, Japanese koto music, Hungarian folk songs, North American urban funk rhythms, New Orleans parade music, country waltzes, and more.
In recent years, more and more people have been taking notice of Time Warp’s distinctive creative musical approach and energy. Media coverage has expanded dramatically. Time Warp has found its way into the pages of McLean’s and The Village Voice, onto CBC radio’s Morningside, and various television appearances including a special television concert for BRAVO.
The buzz began with the release of Time Warp’s 4th recording There and Back (Cornerstone CD101), the first CD venture for the new independent Canadian label Cornerstone Records Inc. Recorded shortly after the group returned from performing at the Venezuelan International Jazz Festival, this recording featured songs influenced by that South American trip plus the large work “Ellingtonia”, for which Al Henderson received the 1995 SOCAN Award for Original Jazz Composition. The enthusiastic response to this project led to Time Warp’s first coast-to-coast Canadian tour in 1994. The following year, a double-CD package The Time Warp Collection (Cornerstone CD105-2) led to a larger 18-city Canadian tour in January/February 1996. In recognition of these successes, Time Warp received the 1996 Jazz Report Award for Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year, and later won again in 1998 for an unprecedented fourth time! The next recording Time Warp Plays the Music of Duke Ellington was a special project to commemorate both the Ellington Centenary and Time Warp’s 20th anniversary.
Time Warp’s most recent CD release Warp IX (Cornerstone CD119) received the Canadian Music Week Indie Award for Best Jazz Recording of 2002. Warp IX is an eclectic jazz romp through nine wide-ranging compositions by all four members of the group. The music from this CD was featured in Time Warp’s 2003 tour of Western Canada.