January 22, 2022
Canadian pianist Augustine Yates shines as both a composer and performer. His music values improvisation and focuses on interplay within the ensemble. The emphasis on improvisation allows for different types of musical conversation, where musicians may perform a written-out role, improvise together, or improvise on specific motifs. Due to the combination of through-composed forms and freely improvised sections, his music emphasizes the dichotomy of spontaneity and control.
Yates is a soloist, chamber musician, and composer who enjoys a career in classical and jazz music. He frequently performs in venues across Canada, such as The Rex, Lula Lounge, Burdock, and numerous Canadian jazz festivals. His debut record of original compositions, An Open Window, is set to be released in 2022.Yates has performed and recorded with many ensembles, including The Augustine Yates Piano Trio, The Dennis Kwok Jazz Orchestra, Eulogy Eulogy, and The Rob Lee group.
Yates began his classical piano studies through the Royal Conservatory of Music, ultimately earning his ARCT diploma, one of the highest degrees offered through the Royal Conservatory. During his high school years, he became enamoured with jazz and began to study the art form. Yates holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Humber College in Toronto. His primary teachers have included many of Canada’s finest musicians, such as Brian Dickinson, Robi Botos, and Adrean Farrugia.
A key element of art is communication, and Yates’s compositions focus heavily on the communication between the trio members. To have a musical discussion, a form of language is required, and due to the constantly evolving nature of language, it’s relevance and meaning to society also shifts. Yates’s dream is for someone to perform his pieces in the distant future where the development of the common musical language will give his compositions an entirely new meaning.
Yates’s compositions are through-composed in form but utilise improvisation to create a unique piece each performance. These pieces explore the different ways that improvisation and song forms can create unique pieces in a jazz piano trio format. “A long time” experiments with loose sketches used as a basis for improvisation to create contrasting sections. “Untitled10000” combines a standard cyclical solo form with a freely improvised intro and ending; a tiny contrapuntal bridge also adds some flavour. “Circles” experiments with ostinatos derived from the melody as a foundation for the improvisation.