Because I’m presently working on longer writing projects, including a book on the west coast jazz scene, I’m only occasionally posting updates on current jazz events.
Musicians and promoters can advertise their own performances and events by clicking on “Upcoming Events” (above) and posting a simple blurb or a complete press release in the comments section.
Jazz fans can find out what’s going on by reading those press releases at Upcoming Events and by going to the Calendars page. (The U-Jam calendar link on that page has the most complete listing for Victoria).
The last two concerts of U-JAM’s Jazz at the Gallery 2015 are slated for Sunday March 29th and Sunday, April 26th at 2pm at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Please note the artist swap from the original schedule: Dave Keen now appears on March 29th and Jennifer Scott on April 26th. Ticket holders unable to change dates will be given a refund through the Gallery office.
In the spirit of giving here’s a few ideas for the jazz fans on your Christmas List:
1. Buy a local jazz album. Here are a few suggestions: Saloon Standard by Joe Coughlin, The Ian McDougall 12tet Live, The Measure of Light by the Kelby MacNayr Quintet Look for the Silver Lining by Phil Dwyer and Don Thompson, Christmas Is by Maureen Washington, Lucky So-and-So by Melinda Whitaker. Those are just a few options. Search your favourite local jazz artist at iTunes or CD Baby and you’ll find many more choices. Ask at Lyle’s or Ditch Records in Victoria and encourage them to stock local players.
2. Buy a ticket to a local jazz event. U-JAM’s Jazz at the Gallery is a good bet and sells out every year. Check out the local jazz vespers series around Victoria as well as the Victoria Jazz Society’s offerings.
3. Take your friends to the annual New Years eve show at Hermann’s featuring the Victoria Jazz All Stars. It’s always packed and a lot of fun.
I haven’t reviewed albums for some time on this site but one crossed my desk recently that I feel seasonally inspired to write about.
It’s a wonderful new Christmas album by Victoria’s own Bob Watts Trio recorded in the sanctuary of St. Philip Anglican Church in Oak Bay and featuring the piano work of the sublime and fiery Pablo Cardenas.
Many of you will know that drummer Watts moved to Victoria a few years ago from Winnipeg (although he still spends a lot of time there for business and music) and established a monthly jazz vespers series at St. Philip. During his tenure at the church he’s worked with the likes of Karl Roessingh, Joey Smith, Rob Cheramy, Tony Genge, Bruce Meikle and Tom Vickery.
Watts most often appears with Cardenas and bassist Ross Macdonald in a trio and indeed they are the personnel on Jazz for Christmas 2.
Before you say, ‘do we really need another jazz Christmas album?’ you should know there’s something unique about this one and its companion Jazz for Christmas 1, recorded in Winnipeg in 2010. According to Watts, these are the only two jazz albums around devoted strictly to interpreting Christmas carols.
That’s right, all the other jazz seasonal albums – there must be thousands of them – offer the odd carol but mostly feature arrangements of popular Christmas songs like that old Mel Tormé classic – you know the one I mean.
This new album includes a deeply blue and soulful Silent Night, a lively jazz waltz version of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and a fast-swinging Good Christian People Rejoice which burns along at 220 bpm – a tempo which apparently left Watts exclaiming an unprintable and unreleasable (but humorously appropriate) “Holy s–” when they made it through what turned out to be a gem of a first take.
You’ll want this one on top of your Christmas CD stack. The tunes may be familiar but the arrangements are fresh, original, and deeply swinging.
Because I took an interest in the Jill Townsend/Cellar Live Ross Taggart recording project and a lot of the funding came from Vancouver Island donors, I thought I should draw your attention to the latest Kickstarter update released today. I had begun to wonder if the project had died on the vine, and so it was great to hear that progress has been made thanks to the freedom of the summer and the facilities at the Banff Centre.
Here’s the update from Jill Townsend and Bill Coon and a short video:
“The Leighton Artist’s Colony at the Banff Centre consists of nine private studios, dedicated to writing, painting, music and multidisciplinary arts. In late August, Bill and I spent two amazing weeks in our studio with a grand piano where we worked on arranging several of Ross Taggart’s compositions for the 17-piece large ensemble. We each spent 6 hours or more in the studio every day, trading off every two hours. The opportunity to have this kind of quiet, focussed and uninterrupted time to spend on writing music was absolutely fantastic and the beauty of the surroundings was breathtaking. The writing continues now and throughout the fall season.”