He's best known in the jazz world for virtuosity on the electric bass, both as a solo artist and as part of the jazz super group Metalwood, but Chris Tarry has also been quietly toiling away as a short story writer.
Tarry married his twin talents with the release of Rest of the Story, which featured four short stories bundled with a nine-song CD. The album was nominated for a Juno Award, while its design won Recording Packaging of the Year.
"People, they don't have a chance to hold onto anything anymore; it's all digital," said Tarry who performs as part of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, June 23. "[Rest of the Story] was kind of a response to that."
Nineteen-Eight Records didn't release the album digitally or through regular distribution for the first six months.
"Then they released it to the masses and it went crazy," Tarry said. "Crazy for a jazz record, you know. It's like saying I invented this really crazy kind of mustard and 10 people bought it and it was a total success."
Tarry has written fiction all his life. He started taking it more seriously five years ago after a friend dared him to submit a story to a literary magazine and it was published.
"Then, of course, it took me another three years to get another one published," Tarry said.
"I actually picked one career that pays worse than jazz," joked the man who's completing a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of B.C.
But a fiction instructor in New York told him he could have done worse by choosing haiku.
He and his brother Rob Tarry, an awardwinning ad writer who works for Vancouver's Rethink advertising, dreamt up the idea of packaging previously published stories with new songs when they hiked the West Coast Trail two years ago. (Their father played saxophone in an all-dentist band in Calgary called the Holy Molars.)
Grammy and Juno award-nominated graphic artist Jeff Harrison and illustrator Kim Ridgewell of Rethink linked the contemporary jazz music with the fiction through design.
The final product is a 100-page book with stories on the first 40 pages.
"We drilled a hole in the last back part of the book, you turn a page and then there's a hole in the book and you literally fall into the CD in the bottom, so the music becomes the rest of the story," Tarry said.
The former Vancouver-and now Brooklyn-based artist has learned to love revising his prose.
"That love of revision paid off in terms of this record," Tarry said. "I didn't let anything go."
Tarry grew up in Calgary, attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, lived in Vancouver, forming the now defunct Juno Award-winning super group Metalwood, and in 2002, moved to New York. He has since worked with guitarists John Scofield and George Benson and singer Theo Bleckmann, among others, and he's appeared on more than 100 albums.
Tarry recommends those who don't normally get out to jazz shows to check out local talents during jazz fest. He suggests seeing the Brad Turner Quartet, clarinetist Francois Houle, cellist Peggy Lee and guitarist Daryl Jahnke.
"All those guys are all world, world class," he said. "It's probably the best deal going."
The Vancouver International Jazz Festival runs June 22 to July 1. The Chris Tarry Group plays a free show at CBC Studio One, June 23 at 5: 30 p.m. For more information, see coastaljazz.ca.
email@example.com Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi