The AltNews Band brings together elements of neo bop, retro funk, nu jazz, chill and Latin music with unexpected instrumental solos, richly layered synth sounds, hip rhythms and bluesy, funky guitar hooks. Started by guitarist, composer and jazz visionary Tony Koch (Kosh), the quintet is filled out by producer, engineer and bass player Miles Hill, drummer Bobby Ruggiero, saxophonist Campbell Ryga and renowned Vancouver multi-instrumentalist Miles Black. Members have established their own distinctive voices through decades of innovating, performing and recording, and because Koch carefully lays out each of his compositions with these unique players in mind, The AltNews Band achieves a compelling sweet and savory blend of their individual ideals. Songs sizzle with ultra-hip, lyrical melodies, rich harmonies and dynamic fusion grooves with undertones of funk and rock that challenge concepts of traditional jazz while still holding true to its deep, improvisational roots.
The group’s second and latest album, Funk Jazz from Planet Earth builds on the acclaimed success of its debut recording, Uber Chill, which was released in October 2017. Funk Jazz from Planet Earth sees The AltNews Band taking a hard turn towards the exploration of retro funk/bop/fusion grooves with elements of Afro/Latin/Pop vibes thrown in for good measure. This new collection of ten originals features exciting, hip grooves which provide framing and context for complex, neo bop melodies and harmonies with ultra-hooky themes, all highlighted by soaring, passionate solos that wind their way through exciting key changes and musical motifs. Funk Jazz from Planet Earth once again showcases the group’s sizzling chemistry as they present rich and meaningful music, telling stories about the thrill of life’s mysteries.
Guitarist, composer, bandleader, music educator and jazz visionary Tony Koch pours his fine-tuned technique and knack for improvisation into his lively, detailed recordings and work with The AltNews Band. His creative recipe mingles sweet and savory flavors from nu jazz, neo bop, fusion, funk, pop, hip-hop and Latin music and showcases his impeccable ear, lyrical improvisations and deep understanding of the rich nuances of instrumental voices.
Koch’s musical journey has been marked by a quest to become fluent in the complex language of music and to continuously evolve as an artist. With a master’s degree in educational leadership from Simon Fraser University, Koch helped shape the jazz program at Vancouver Community College (VCC), where he taught for 24 years. Koch has played in a wide variety of jazz groups, including the Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation (VEJI) and has toured the Canadian jazz festival circuit, performing at the Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Victoria, and Halifax Jazz Festivals, as well as many others.
Black is a well-known composer, writer and performer in the Vancouver jazz scene, playing and recording with multiple modern jazz groups. He has worked with artists such as Mark Murphy, Slide Hampton, George Coleman, Sheila Jordan, Dee Daniels, Skywalk, Lew Tabackin, Von Freeman and numerous others. Known as one of Canada’s most accomplished jazz pianists, Black is also in demand as an arranger, producer, composer, session musician, guitarist, vocalist, bassist, saxophonist, musical theatre director and songwriter with over 400 song credits.
Aside from being a driving force behind The AltNews Band, Black is an integral part of an array of other acclaimed modern jazz ensembles, including Altered Laws, the Oliver Gannon Quartet, The Mike Allen Quartet (aka, the Faculty Jazz Collective at Western Washington University) and the classic jazz ensemble TRIOLOGY. An involved music educator, Black has been working for PG Music in Victoria since 1991 and has helped produce countless educational music software programs for instrumentalists at every level.
A veteran of the Vancouver jazz scene, saxophonist Campbell Ryga has been fine-tuning his craft for almost 40 years. With roots in traditional jazz and improvisational Latin music, he has participated in 26 international tours with focus on Canada, Western Europe and Latin America and has been invited to perform at the prestigious Havana International Jazz Festival multiple times.
A master of alto and soprano, he was honoured with the Jazz Reports Magazine Award, "Canada's Alto Saxophonist of the Year" and is the recipient of three Juno Awards, two Western Canadian Music awards in the jazz category as well as a Grammy nomination. He recorded on Michael Bublé’s Grammy-winning song, "Crazy Love". Aside from lending his talents to The AltNews Band, Ryga is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Hugh Fraser Quintet. Campbell Ryga is a Yamaha Canada Saxophone Artist and a Theo Wanne Mouthpiece Endorser.
Miles Hill is a multitalented artist who brings his versatile background as a bassist, producer, engineer and composer as well as his command of harmony, composition and rhythm to his work with The AltNews Band. He fell in love with the bass at 12, influenced by greats like Jaco Pastorious, Ray Brown and Paul Chambers, eventually studying with bass dynamo Dave Holland, who played with the legendary Miles Davis.
Along with mixing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games, Hill has recorded and performed live with artists including Van Morrison, Michael Bublé, Brazilian pop sensation Ivan Lins and more. He has played on over 600 records ranging from jazz, funk and tango to country and rock. Hill built his own state-of-the-art studio, Frequency Forward, where he continues to create music for other artists, composes for film and television and makes world-class recordings.
Fresh off a 12-year stint with legendary folk/rock artist Van Morrison, adaptable drummer Bobby Ruggiero has over 30 years of professional touring, producing and recording experience as not only a drummer but also as a vocalist and musical director. Skilled at interpreting multiple genres and styles, from jazz, to rock, folk and country, he brings a fine-tuned ear and an impeccable sense of rhythm that helps give strength and power to the AltNews Band’s rock-solid foundation.
With a home base in Las Vegas, Ruggiero’s additional credits include Sam Butera, Beau Brummels, Jimmy Smith, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Paul Simon, Lee Greenwood, Al Hurt, and appearances on The Tonight Show as well as other television and film projects.