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Newsletter from the Okanagan
First and most interestingly, the formation of local jazz and blues societies along the interior of the province has lead to an opportunity. Tough economic times have sent many jazz musicians looking for places to play and because of the hard work of a group of individuals in the Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, and Kamloops areas there is a "tour route". Does this threaten local talent? Not at all. The advantage for local musicians is that they can now go out to venues and network with other musicians. There is also the potential for more venues opening up to jazz if the music is seen as being able to attract an audience because basically it all comes back to "stayin' alive" and club owners need to make a profit.
Ben Verkerk who has been very active with the Kelowna Jazz and Blues Society wanted us all to share his love of the music of Mike Allen on saxophones. On Sunday, April 20th, Mike with Julian MacDonough on drums, and bassist Paul Rushka (who also plays for Kelowna as a member of the Okanagan Symphony) gave jazz fans a treat at Bunches Bistro. The Bistro is found between Kirschner and Spall. The performance was a different sound than we are used to hearing in Kelowna . The mix of sax, drums and bass without guitar or keyboard makes for a more intricate sound. The saxophone player has more room to move in or out without worrying about bumping into a guitar line or keyboard. In addition, the sound was acoustic so there was a sweeter, rounder quality that didn't require the first two rows of the audience to wear earplugs in order to sustain long term hearing pleasure. Thanks go out to Marlene at Bunches, and to Ben for working so hard to allow us to experience the trio's music at the beginning of a 12 city tour out of Vancouver, and headed across Canada. Hey, it is almost like we have become mainstream. We have tours and everything.
A second tour for the interior was the Chris Tarry Trio. Chris brought his players on Thursday, April 24th to Kamloops and moved on down to Kelowna where on Saturday April 26th something very special happened at the OUC KLO campus theatre when the Juno award winning Chris Tarry joined Juno award winning multi-instrumental artist Brad Turner on stage. Bernie Arai on drums brought his elegant, aggressive and experiemental sound to the group and presented the Kelowna jazz fans with a magical evening. This was not a staid, traditional jazz concert but harkened more to the experience the audiences at a Bella Fleck and the Flecktones concert have. Brad leaned over and plucked the piano strings, put effects on the drum mikes, Bernie used the ends of his brushes, his fingers, and a gong hanging above his kit, and Chris played with the possible variations of a bass line to really push the boundaries. As one member of the audience was heard to say," Brad Turner is fearless, absolutely fearless. He is so far outside, he is inside. You learn something new just by hearing him play." Chris, Bernie, and Brad played numbers like Wayne Shorter's Footsteps in a way no jazz audience has ever heard before. If these amazing artists come to Kelowna again, don't miss out on the experience.
Local musicians have formed a contract, a marriage contract that is when Larry Crawford, and Debi Johnson wed in Summerland on April 12th. In over 15 years of attending events in the valley, I have never seen so many musicians in one place at one time, and all happy about the "arrangements."
Moving on to look at what local musicians are doing in the jazz world:
Thursdays at Coyotes the Trevor Salloum Trio is giving the young players a chance to jam. 7:30-10:30 pm 1352 Water St.
Friday, May 16
Jazz with Cathy-Ann Wells and Hugh Parsons on Keyboard, Martin Lord on drums and Cameron Ward on bass. 7 pm at the Coast Capri hotel.
Friday, May 16
Jazz and Blues with Ellen Churchill, 7:30 pm at the Laughing Moon Restaurant and Gallery. $5
Sunday, May 18
Sibel Thrasher Vancouver jazz singer who appeared in Kelowna in "Unforgettable, The Music of Nat King Cole," at the Creekside Theatre, and more recently in the Granville Island Arts Club Production of Little Shop of Horrors returns to the Creekside with Just in Time backing her for a musical evening. For details call 1-250-766-5669
Friday, May 23
Just in Time jazz 7 pm at the Coast Capri hotel.
Saturday, May 24
The Vernon Jazz Society will host Cathy Ann Wells with Larry Crawford and the Just in Time trio at 8 pm at the Vernon Jazz Club, 3000- 31st., Vernon, Tickets are $10.00 Members only $7.50 To check out gigs go to www.vernonjazz.homestead.com
I would welcome information from any jazz musicians in the Kelowna area about their gigs, as would the Okanagan Jazz and Blues Society. Check out their professional, well-maintained web site at www.silk.net/kelownajazz for submissions or to me at www.hansonward.com.
Tickets are on sale for the June 28th concert of the Just in Time jazz trio called "Just…Just in Time" in honor of the fact that this is a rare opportunity to hear a skilled group play challenging numbers. In addition to Chick Corea, and Michel Camilo numbers, the group is playing a selection of original tunes prepared for the occasion. The evening of the concert, the audience can watch a live performance video being shot. Samples of the groups' music will be for sale at the venue. Tickets are $14 advance, $16 at the door with $2 off of membership for any jazz and blues society membership, even an Iraq membership. Hmm. Maybe not. For information go to www.communitix.com or www.hansonward.com
Remember that when you leave that cozy little abode and head out to hear musicians play, you are contributing to the cultural community of Kelowna . Oh the Zen master would say, " Art is a flower, if you don't care for it, you can't expect it to survive." Or something like that.
Keep the Jazz live!!!
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