Daniella Katzir wears many musical hats at Swallow Hill – instructor and performer chief among them. It comes as no surprise, then, that this multifaceted musician carries her eclectic tastes as a music fan into her own creations and interpretations. “It certainly is eclectic,” she says when asked about her musical influences. All of those styles will be on full display and channeled into something unique when the Daniella Katzir Band takes the stage in Tuft Theatre on Saturday, November 3 at 8 p.m.
We recently caught up with Daniella via email to learn a bit more about the show, how teaching has helped her as a musician, and much more.
I feel like you have an eclectic taste in music that draws from a wide source of traditions and influences. How would you describe your sound?
Well… It certainly is eclectic. Each time I finish a song I start listening to a completely different style of music to plant seeds of influence for the next one. Keeping it fresh is important but sometimes it gets me in trouble when people ask me to define my music. I suppose my best answer for this moment will have to be that the songs are rooted in an Americana style of writing to start, but then song to song can vary between slight layers of dark gypsy, light swing, or a funk grooved Peggy Lee style of soul. Does that help? It’s definitely original and strictly my own style.
Your concerts are known for having a fun, rotating cast of musicians. Who is in your band this time? What can people expect from the show?
Playing with the full band is one of my most favorite things to do. For the last few years, I haven’t booked a full band show without Mike Tallman (of Colorado’s own Euforquestra) playing lead guitar. His tonal quality can’t be replaced! You will definitely be seeing him along with Austin Zalatel (also one of the great singer/songwriters of Euforquestra) on saxophone. He also helps out with some of the vocals in our project.
We will also have the masterful Brian McRae (of Kyle Hollingsworth Band) playing drums. I’ve been working with him since 2015 and is always my first call for a drummer. Pretty much everything I show him he has down in a matter of minutes.
Jon Gray will be joining us for the first time on trumpet. I’ve known him for years and have seen him play with many projects from jazzed up Super Collider to Euforquestra to joining the horn section of Big Gigantic at Red Rocks and much more!
Last but not least, we will have Swallow Hill’s own Casey Cormier on the upright bass. Casey and I have been friends, colleagues at Swallow Hill and playing music together since about 2014. He is always on the move between playing gigs with all the locals, but it’s been lovely to have this steady musical relationship.
I have the utmost respect for all of these extremely versatile musicians. They bring it all to the table and together we will dish out the best of the material!
How long have you been teaching at Swallow Hill? How as teaching music made you a better performer?
I have been at Swallow Hill since January 2012. Teaching music has surely made me a better musician. I practice what I preach. When I write or try to learn an inspiring harder song for myself, I use the same techniques I give my students for getting their hands to move around their own instruments. I’d have to quit teaching if I didn’t practice what I preach. I’d feel like an impostor otherwise.
You recently played Swallow Hill’s One Epic Night fundraiser with a band you dubbed Wooden Nickels. Who was in that band, and how would you describe the sound? Will Wooden Nickels play out again anytime soon?
I have a fascination with old time jazz music. Wooden Nickels comes from the 1920s fad phrase, “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” which people interpreted in a few ways meaning – don’t let yourself be cheated, ripped off or do anything dumb. Wooden Nickels features Casey Cormier (upright bass) and Gabriel Mervine (trumpet). Gabriel lives local and plays top notch jazz but is also versatile enough to play anything you throw his way. You can find him around Denver playing with his own project, The Gabriel Mervine Quartet. He has performed in places as small as Nocturne Jazz and as large as Red Rocks.
My role in this project is playing ukulele, guitar and channeling my Peggy Lee alter ego. This trio will help you transport yourself back to the 1920’s where you might catch some entertainment at the infamous Cotton Club in Harlem. Picture Bessie Smith serenading, “Careless Love” or Fats Waller crooning some “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Or better yet, how about you turn on that old wooden radio and catch some Benny Goodman and Helen Ward swooning some “Goody, Goody.” I honestly feel all warm inside after playing a set of this style music.
You also recently took a trip to Europe. Did you encounter anything that inspired you musically while on your travels?
I am still digesting that trip. I went to London, took a five hour private Beatles tour in Liverpool, where I also saw the famous Casbah and Cavern. Then I went to Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. There was so much history, culture, beauty, style, good food, music and different way of living life.
And yes – there was a street performer playing an accordion quite beautifully while I was sitting outside eating some dinner in Venice. Picture perfect. I have plenty to write about! I will but haven’t yet.