Shuffle Demons

Shuffle Demons. Toronto jazz group.

Shuffle Demons

Shuffle Demons. Toronto jazz group. Formed by the alto and baritone saxophonist Richard Underhill (b St Stephen, NB, 17 Mar 1961) in September of 1984, the Demons first performed on downtown street corners, drawing attention with their colorful wardrobe and their eclectic repertoire of TV and movie themes, pop novelties, rap songs, and original and classic jazz tunes. In the summer of 1985, Underhill, tenor saxophonists Dave Parker and Mike Murley, and drummer 'Stich' (Richard) Wynston, performed under similarly informal circumstances throughout Europe.

With bassist Jim Vivian added for club and festival work, the Demons were a leading jazz attraction in Canada by 1986, their performances an unpredictable blend of humor, theatre, local colour, and skilled, assertively contemporary jazz improvisation. The Demons toured Canada six times 1986-90, performed for several weeks at Expo 86, and served as animation bands for the du Maurier Downtown Jazz festival in Toronto (1987) and the FIJM (1989). Murley and Vivian were replaced in 1989 by Perry White and George Koller respectively. During the first of two formal European tours in 1990, a performance in Leeds, England, brought the quintet the description of 'Cartoon hepcats with the cracked conviction of five Harpo Marxes' (Wire, April 1990).

The original Demons made the LPs Streetniks (1986, Stubby R-001/Stony Plain SPL-1128) and Bop Rap (1987, Stony Plain SPL-1124), and appeared on Mendelson Joe's Born to Cuddle. A third Demons album, What Do You Want? (Stony Plain SPCD-1152), included performances with Murley from 1988 and White from 1989. Videos of the Demons' rap tunes 'Spadina Bus' (1986) and 'Get Outta My House, Roach' (1987) were seen widely on Canadian TV. Other popular pieces include the song 'Funkin' Pumpkin' and the instrumentals The Shuffle Monster, Gabi's Gimi Suit, and Blue Mustard.

Further Reading

  • Miller, Mark. 'A Demon beat out there on the street,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 28 Sep 1985

    Brunet, Alain. 'Les Shuffle Demons gonflent tous leurs boyaux pour atteindre un public extra-jazz,' Montreal La Presse, 24 Jan 1988