Local Madison jazz act Major Vistas is breaking away from genre limitations to give audiences a unique, live improvisational experience.
A Craigslist ad, posted by Vista’s pianist Mike Weiser, brought together the three members who have encyclopedic backgrounds in music, ranging from rock to klezmer to video game composition.
“When it comes to our musical abilities, we like the idea of everyone being a bit of a chameleon,” Weiser said.
Their expansive background is ever-present in their 2016 release of “Minor Anthems,” an album in which each of the 12 tracks seems to grow organically from the last, void of any direct ties to genre or influence.
Weiser is acutely aware of the deflection of genre in their mustic.
“The more I play music the more I realize — it’s all just music,” Weiser said. “I feel like original music today isn’t necessarily trying to be entirely derivative. Most of the time when I listen to original music, it’s unique.”
With the goal of creating music that is inherently unique, Major Vistas pays special attention to improvisation. Many of the artists the band cites as inspiration are those who excel in improv, like guitarists Pat Metheny and John Scofield.
“We created this band as a vehicle for improvisation,” Weiser said. “To me it is what makes music exciting, the element of not knowing.”
It becomes clear music is more than just a pastime for the band through a conversation with Major Vistas or a listen to their new album. Rather, music has been a lifelong endeavor for each member.
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Each member of Major Vistas has gone through extensive collegiate-level music study and each has performed in various contests, solo productions and side groups. Guitarist Chris Bucheit studied at the Berklee Music Online school and won Guitar Magazine’s “Homegrown CD award” for his solo album “Hand to Mouth.” Drummer Geoff Brady studied at three different music academies, including University of Wisconsin’s, and performed with klezmer ensemble Yid Vicious.
Today, Weiser continues to live and breathe music even when he’s not on stage with Major Vistas. Outside the band, Weiser teaches music to kids in the area.
Weiser’s mission to share musical experience as a teacher mirrors that of the Major Vistas’ mission. Weiser hopes to share new worlds of music and creativity with everyone who attends a Major Vistas show.
“People often come up to me after a show and say ‘I don’t know what that was, but I like it,’” Weiser said. “[Major Vistas] opens people’s minds to the fact that things don’t need to be tied to a genre to be enjoyed.”