"an unclassifiable blast of fresh air …” The Montreal Mirror (2011)

"Highly creative and sometimes noisy, this excellent quartet from Canada brings humor, mystery, vision and restless energy to a widely varied set." KZSU Stanford Radio (2011)

The Vertical Squirrels is a Canadian free improvisation musical collective dedicated to diverse musical expressions as a teaching and learning tool––and also as a vehicle for building community and establishing positive dialogue across personal, cultural, linguistic, geographic, and political barriers.

Latest News:

In July 2014 the Vertical Squirrels will be performing at the thirtieth annual Sound Symposium Festival in St. John's Newfoundland. 

Look for the Squirrels at the University of Guelph performing with renowned Korean master percussionist Dong-Won Kim on June 4, 2014 at 8 PM. Click here for more information.

On Saturday 26 April 2014 the Vertical Squirrels performed their improvised sound score to Lotte Reineger's 1926 animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed  to a packed house at Silence.

The Squirrels will be performing June 15, 2013 on a much anticipated double bill with Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People--the concert is part of the Silence series.

Watch this space for news about the forthcoming Fierce Urgencies CD the Vertical Squirrels are set to release shortly  featuring an amazing array of guest artists including Jane Bunnett, Larry Cramer, Ben Grossman, and Scott Merritt.

Click here for digital downloads of their albums. Click here for free downloads.

The Vertical Squirrels were in the studio in the Fall of 2012 mixing down sessions and live concerts improvised and recorded in June 2012 featuring guests that include Jane Bunnett, Larry Cramer, Ben Grossman, and Scott Merritt--with sound-sculpting by Dave Clark of the Woodchoppers.  Look for a new CD release shortly with concerts to follow.


The music of the Vertical Squirrels is group-improvised, live in the moment, and draws on a unique mixture of free jazz and post rock sensibilities with nods to Indian ragas, jazz-inflected minimalism, Zappa-esque bouts of sonic anarchy, and German rock music from the 1970s. Like the music they play, the Vertical Squirrels came together through a mixture of chance and perseverance. Long-time collaborators in and outside the academy (in projects musical and non-musical), Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble, and Lewis Melville started playing together as a group upon the arrival in Guelph of multi-talented drummer/percussionist Rob Wallace, in 2008, later adding acclaimed drummer Ted Warren to the mix. Initially conceived as an informal outlet to get Heble back into playing piano after years of curating the Guelph Jazz Festival (but rarely performing himself), the Squirrels quickly morphed into a recording and gigging band focused on their distinctive brand of in-the-moment improvisation. They bring together years of diverse individual musical experiences, a sense of humor and friendship to their playing, and a deep commitment to multiple forms of sonic expression, exploration, and freedom.