A Podcast Conversation With .. The Shuffle Demons
The Toronto jazzniks are about to release the 10th album of a fascinating career that has spanned 37 years and brought them a loyal audience. Learn more in this FYI podcast.
By Bill King
The Shuffle Demons are celebrating 37 years in music with their 10th album.
My first years at CIUT 89.5 FM University of Toronto radio were a free for all. Toronto had a growing alternative rock scene and wild west jazz battle. The old guard was suspicious and sported a salty attitude towards any upstart messing with a scripted list of acceptable jazz standards. Enter The Shuffle Demons. Bold, fun and gifted. No slouches in this band.
Jazz has its roots in the streets of New Orleans, and the streets are where it all began for the Demons. Over at the radio station—six days week jazz ran from 1 pm to 4 pm, and Canadian content was a priority. The Demons were playlist gold. Witty, colourful and every inch of the new architecture of the ever-developing city of Toronto.
The band is back, and we talk!
All In is the exciting new all-instrumental album from The Shuffle Demons. Featuring compositions by four of five band members, the music ranges from brilliantly composed contemporary jazz to groovy funk-jazz reminiscent of the JB Horns or Average White Band, all played with the inimitable Shuffle Demons style and unique sound. With standout solos and dynamic group playing, this album adds a new instrumental-only twist to the Shuffle Demons repertoire and is one of their finest albums to date.
Recorded and engineered by Jeremy Darby and Julian Decorte at Canterbury Music Company, Toronto, October 2-4, 2020. • Produced, mixed and mastered by Jono Grant at Victory Drive Music • Cover Art by ‘J.’ • Layout and design by Matt Lagan • The cover art was painted by artist ‘J’ who was experiencing homelessness in Trinity Bellwoods Park. To help the homeless in our city, $1 from the sale of each CD will be donated to sschto.ca
Saxophonist Richard Underhill formed the band in 1984 in collaboration with various Toronto-area jazz musicians, including Mike Murley, Dave Parker and Stich Wynston. They performed as buskers in the Toronto area before recording the full-length album Streetniks, released in 1986.
The band had a surprise Top 40 hit in Canada with their 1986 single Spadina Bus. The song referred to the Toronto Transit Commission's Spadina Avenue bus in Toronto. The album was a Juno Award nominee for Best Jazz Album at the Juno Awards of 1987. Spadina Bus was also later used as the theme to CITY-TV's show Speakers' Corner.
The Shuffle Demons released four more albums over the next seven years. Unfortunately, they never scored another mainstream pop hit, although the video Get Out of My House, Roach received considerable airplay on MuchMusic. They have retained a devoted following throughout the decades.
Learn more in this FYI podcast.