A night of jazz, art and wine with Tyler Lustek

Tyler Lustek Trio performs at 200 Main Art & Wine

Maggie OBrien

More stories from Maggie O'Brien

Across the Pond
February 28, 2024

Photo by Charlotte Becker

Tyler Lustek (keys) performing joined by North Skager (drums) and Will DeBlaey (bass)

200 Main Art & Wine Gallery hosted a Valentine’s-themed jazz performance on Thursday.

The performance took place on Feb. 9, from 7-9 p.m., and was free and open to the public. 

Tyler Lustek, jazz pianist, composer and educator, performed alongside drummer North Skager and bassist Will Deblaey. The trio played a combination of Lustek’s original compositions and Valentine’s love ballads, with some improvisation in between. 

Lustek said after finishing his master’s degree in jazz studies at Northern Illinois University and returning to Eau Claire, he started working with various other musicians, including Skager and DeBlaey. 

“As a rhythm section, Will and North are like peanut butter and jelly,” Lustek said. “Any chance I get to play with them, I feel like I fit right into the pocket.”

Lustek said he’s putting together a recording project of his original compositions and recording with Skager and DeBlaey, so the performance was a chance to run through some of the work and reflect. 

“Will has played some of my compositions and North has played some of my compositions, but we’ve never played them as a trio,” Lustek said. “Tonight was a way of seeing how things go with this specific group in a live setting.”

North Skager, professional musician, said he plays gigs with Lustek quite often and plays in other bands together with him on the occasion.

Skager said his goal for the performance at 200 Main was simply to service Lustek’s music. 

Tyler’s tunes are pretty difficult, so as long as I can play every rhythm accurately, I’d be happy,” Skager said. “But it’s much more satisfying to not only ‘play the right notes’ but to also make something cool out of it.”

Skager said Tyler’s music requires much more attention to the rhythmic and metric shifts that make the music engaging for audience members and musicians alike.

“The sound is very jazzlike in its tight harmonic clusters and bebop-inspired language, but is plenty progressive due to its rhythmic complexity,” Skager said. 

Will DeBlaey, professional musician, said he has been making music with Lustek for around a year, and mostly works for him as a side man playing his compositions. 

DeBlaey said he would describe the sound the trio cultivated as sonically rich, with a lot of dense harmonies and musical conversation going on. He said his hope for the performance was to simply have fun and entertain the audience. 

“North and Tyler are both accomplished musicians, so I was hoping we could lock in and have a good time together,” DeBlaey said.

DeBlaey said he would encourage UW-Eau Claire students to get out and see more live music. 

“There is such a strong community of musicians here- from jazz to country, to folk, bluegrass, original hip hop, electronic music, shoegaze, punk, rock and classical,” DeBlaey said. “There has to be something to love for the students in all of that, and the local musicians definitely need people’s support.”

For more information about live music and other events happening at 200 Main Art & Wine Gallery, check out its upcoming events calendar

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]