The Shuffle Demons
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The Shuffle Demons

Band Jazz Funk


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"The Shuffle Demons' Streetniks"

The Shuffle Demons

In the mid to late eighties popular jazz was traveling through some pretty murky waters. In the eyes of many young people, jazz had taken on the stodgy air that afflicts Baroque, Classical and Romantic era music. Many no longer saw jazz as music of the people, but instead music of pompous intellectuals. With many of the genre's best performers taking on the guise of adult contemporary smooth layered in drum machines and synths, it was damn scary.

While most people were convinced that comatose grooves such as Kenny G's “Songbird” passed for great jazz, a force had emerged. Five garishly dressed -pajamas?- young men resembling fifties-era beatniks laid out great chops while singing about a Toronto bus run, “Spadina Bus”. Although they looked goofy and sang songs such as “Get out of My House, Roach” and “The Puker,” they were amazing players who translated their love of jazz into some of the most original music of the eighties.

“For many young Canadians glued to video station MuchMusic, it was an exciting first foray into bop, free and fusion.”

With their debut Streetniks , Toronto's The Shuffle Demons changed the way a whole new generation looked at jazz, in much the same way DJ Spooky has in the nineties. Led by Mike Murley (now with Metalwood), Rich Underhill and Dave Parker on saxes, the group was rounded out with Stich Wynston on percussion and Jim Vivian on bass. The Demons built a huge following on the street corners of Toronto, leading to both a video of “Spadina Bus” and the release of the independent Streetniks. They mixed a quirky groove with fun rap style lyrics (which they called bop rap), blazing solos and a sound that remained every bit true to the pioneers of be-bop.

Although aimed at a jazz audience, Streetniks gathered a new group of listeners through their hipster/clown style. With the thumping bass opening of “Spadina Bus,” which recalls layouts by both Mingus and Carter, followed by a downbeat that leads into a horn chop that etches itself into your brain. It is hard to imagine even today that serious playing like this will lead to lyrics such as “I reached deep down in my pocket to try and find some coin/ But much to chagrin all I found was my groin”. Even though Dizzy was certainly the clown prince of bop, he would never have spilled such words before an audience.

But the proof is in the music. The solo on second single “Get Out of My house, Roach” is brilliant: a slap in the face chunk of be and free-bop that send shivers down one's spine. But what makes this bizarre is that it became a hit single on MuchMusic's video singles chart! The idea that people who were listening to synthetic divas such as Madonna would groove to skillfully played jazz with ripping free solos is still hard to imagine. Opening with squeaks and squeals that owe influence far more to Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler than the be-bop pioneers. A track every bit different as possible from ”Spinda Bus” proved to all critics that the Demons had more depth than being a novelty act.

Although they would never reach the success of Streekniks again, the Demons' other records held a tightly glued cult following that still exists. Even today their mixture of contemporary styles with bop is still fresh. The ideas and originality laid out on Streetniks still lie unmatched seventeen years later.

Trevor MacLaren

- All About Jazz

"Two By Richard Underhill and The Shuffle Demons"

For those familiar with the jazz scene in Toronto during the eighties and the next decade will remember the impact the Shuffle Demons had. Richard Underhill was the leader and founding member of the band that flipped jazz over not only through the initial impact of their colorful costumes, but also with their outstanding musicianship.

The Shuffle Demons
Greatest Hits
Stubby Records

The Shuffle Demons recorded four albums and their Greatest Hits compiles a generous 17 tracks which show why this band was one of the most exciting in Canada. Their music took in many influences which they parleyed into expressions of their own concept. It was fun and it was exhilarating and it proved that these musicians were quite simply, top notch.

Appropriately enough, the first track here is a live one bringing in “The Shuffle Monster” horns askew, the lines fillibrating and then some twisted improvisations and cries from the saxes particularly the baritone. There is never a moment when the trajectory does not go askance, but then that was their cue card, the unusual in the usual circumstances. A little honking on the horn and it’s time to serve up some rhythm’n’blues on “The Funkin’ Pumpkin’” with some hot blowing from Underhill on the alto. They played the blues as well and they shaded it pretty darn well too. Their “Personal Blues” is a slow one and the words must be heard for the jive. There are other songs that tell stories and if, anything, show that the Demons had an ear to the wall (or perhaps to the ground) and the tongue tucked nicely in the cheek. And if you want to sing along to a country tune try getting on to “Yukon Girl” and you’re sure to have a load of fun. And finally for something quite serious, slip into “Gabi’s Gimi Suit,” one of the best Demons tunes. This is infectious, not in the sense that it has a melody that yells grab me but in the complexity of its nature. The interplay between the band members is empathetic and resounds with an eloquent power.

The story of the Shuffle Demons is worth listening to over, and over again.

Jerry D'Souza - All About Jazz


Bop Rap
What Do You Want
Alive In Europe
Extra Crispy
The Shuffle Demons Greatest Hits


Feeling a bit camera shy


The band's highly original music incorporates several
influences including jazz, blues, funk, bop, rap, country, reggae, latin, african, indian, avant-garde, performance art and more. The Shuffle Demons also have a strong visual appeal with our hand painted Demon duds and our hilarious stage antics.
A Shuffle Demons show is alway characterized by tremendous energy mixed with world class musicianship and is extremely entertaining.

Over a twenty-two year
span The Shuffle Demons have released six CDs, two hit videos, won several music awards, done numerous tv and radio appearances and
toured nationally and internationally including 20 cross Canada tours, 5 US tours, 16 European tours, a tour of India, a tour of China and a tour of Cuba playing on big festival stages, theatres and clubs.