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Cool fusion

Songwriter and guitarist Dan Pietila sees that each member of his band, Freeze-Dried Fusion, gets to put his or her artistic signature somewhere in the group's songs.

"My philosophy with the band is I like every instrument to have a lead part somewhere," he says.

Formed about two years ago, Freeze-Dried Fusion plays one to two gigs a month at the Grass Shack Cafe in Phoenix and Rogue River Lodge in Trail, where it will play at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1.

The band is the hobby project of Pietila, bassist Pete Wirts, guitarist and flutist James Lowe, drummer Lane Hall and percussionist and vocalist Sheila Winn.

In the '70s, Pietila played acoustic "Crosby, Stills & Nash-type stuff," and later blues with the Seattle-based band Fretless. After moving to Southern Oregon, he started playing progressive, improvisational music with Wirts, and their collaboration naturally evolved into the five-piece band.

Except for an occasional standard, Freeze-Dried Fusion plays all-original, smooth, fusion jazz with varying moods and tempos: "something to listen to, dance to or drink wine to," Winn says.

The band has about 50 to 60 songs — about half of them instrumental — in its catalog. Fifteen of these will be featured on its debut album, recorded from Lowe's home studio and scheduled for release this fall. Both Pietila and Lowe contributed songs to the album, and both leave plenty of room for improvisation.

Pietila says his songs tend toward the eclectic side of the jazz spectrum with some Brazilian influences, classical and folk riffs and a nod to Badi Assad.

Lowe's songs are more traditional jazz but heavy on folk.

There is no cover to the band's show at the lodge. Look for Freeze-Dried Fusion on Facebook or call 541-878-2555.

Freeze-Dried Fusion is, clockwise from front left, James Lowe, Lane Hall, Sheila Winn, Pete Wirts and Dan Pietila.