A few gigs not to be missed this weekend:
The Jon Miller Quartet plays Hemann’s in Victoria tonight (Friday). Miller promises ”an evening of jazz standards, clever originals, and quirky covers,” featuring Rob Cheramy on guitar, Roy Styffe on sax, James Young on bass, and Miller on drums (8pm/$10). And you can also catch the Jon Miller Trio (sans Roy Styffe) on Saturday night at the Black Stilt corner of Hillside and Shellbourne (7pm).
Saturday night the Cold Cut Combo, Brianne deVerteuil & Her Savvy Six, and the Brent Jarvis Quartet are featured at Jazz at Cafe Berlin, an annual fundraiser in memory of Hans Fear, benefiting the BC Schizophrenia Society(Victoria Branch). The show begins at 7pm at the Victoria Edelweiss Club, 108 Niagara Street ( $22/$25).
On Sunday Jazz Vespers at the Church of the Advent in Colwood offers a trio with Steve MacDonald (guitar), Kris Covlin (sax) and Ross Macdonald (bass), three highly skilled members of the Naden Band.(7pm/freewill offering).
Ron Hadley(piano), Nick McGowan(tenor sax), Ken Lister (bass), and Bill Hicks(drums) celebrate the Olympic Games with Jazz Composers from Around the World, an afternoon concert featuring music from about 20 different countries at The Old School House in Qualicum on Sunday (2:30 pm/$15).
On Monday at the Heron Rock Bistro you can enjoy good food and catch the progressive jazz arrangements of the Steve Grebanier Quartet, featuring the music of contemporary composers like Sting and Michael Jackson.(6:30pm)
Some of the more notable events happening over the next week:
The Taylor Cook Quartet appears at Hermann’s tonight and Saturday night to kick off their province-wide tour. Cook, a 20-year-old from Naramata currently studying and playing in Toronto, is hailed as one of the best young saxophonists to come along in years. Catch him on his way up. (8pm/$10/$15). Tonight (Friday) at the Victoria Event Centre, the Victoria Jazz Society presents The Lost Fingers, the Quebec-based gypsy jazz trio that has been enjoying platinum record sales with acoustic covers of everybody from AC-DC to Michael Jackson. Start time has been moved to 9:45 pm ($22/$25). Ron Hadley host a special Valentine’s Jazz Cabaret in Qualicum on Saturday night at the The Old School House, featuring acclaimed Canadian jazz vocalist Melody Diachun with Hadley on piano and Doug Stephenson on bass. The evening includes a “delectable dessert buffet.” (7:30pm/$18). The Juno-winning Hugh Fraser Quintet makes a special appearance on Sunday, February 14 at Hermann’s in Victoria. Reservations definitely recommended for this one (8:30pm/$20). Also on Sunday, the Jazz Vespers folks at St. John’s United in Deep Cove welcome Departure, a jazz fusion group that is the creation of saxophonist Monik Nordine and bassist Phil Albert. The group has recently added Brent Jarvis on piano and Buff Allen on drums – definitely worth hearing (7pm/offering). And if you want to get your Valentine’s celebrations started early on Sunday, CanUS welcomes Al Pease to Hermann’s (4:30pm/$12). For some great saxophone work you can catch Brianne de Verteuill and Her Savvy Six at Hermann’s on Thurs. Feb. 18 (8pm/$10). That same night up-Island, the Jazz Club in Courtenay welcomes vocalist Jennifer Scott and bassist Rene Worst.(7:30pm/no cover). Scott will also be giving vocal workshops on Saturday, Feb. 20.
With the passing of John Dankworth on Saturday at the age of 82, this seemed like a story that should be told…
Early in 1960, a young musician from Victoria, having decided he wanted to see a bit of the world, traveled on an old German steamship from Canada to England, landing in Southampton with nothing more than $50 in his pocket and a trombone case in his hand.
Discovering that $50 didn’t go very far in the UK even in 1960, the young player soon started looking for work. One day he heard that John Dankworth was forming a new big band.
He already knew of Dankworth from his appearance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and from articles about him in Downbeat, and so he phoned him up and explained that he was from Canada, could play the trombone, and would like to audition. Dankworth invited him down to the then newly opened Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho where Dankworth’s quintet was playing, suggesting he could sit in on a few tunes after the quintet had finished its set.
The young player walked into Ronnie Scott’s to find Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, Spike Heatley on bass, Kenny Clare on drums and Dudley Moore (the actor) on piano with Dankworth on sax.
A week after the audition Dankworth’s road manager called him and asked him if he wanted to join the big band. Needless to say the 21-year-old jumped at the chance.
And so a young man from a very provincial town on Canada’s west coast entered a world where he made very good money (over 40 pounds a week when the average wage in Britain at the time was about 11 pounds), where a band boy took care of his instrument, and where his performance clothes were waiting for him on a rack when he arrived for the gig. He could hardly believe it.
Nor could he believe that about a week after joining the band, he was told he would be given a feature (solo) and that they would be recording a concerto for jazz band and orchestra with the London Philharmonic Orchestra that Dankworth had just composed. Quite an experience for somebody who, in his own words, was “green as hell,” and didn’t know “his ass from a shotgun.”
That young player might have enjoyed a long career with Dankworth’s band except he found himself longing for simple North American pleasures like a hamburger and milkshake – not to mention a few evergreens and some mountains.
And so after nearly two years with the band, Ian McDougall, having discovered that he could hold his own on an international stage, returned home.
The rest, as they say, is history.
– Rick Gibbs
This site doesn’t generally run a lot of concert reviews, but something has to be said about the recent appearance of the Marc Atkinson Trio at Jazz at the Gallery in Victoria.
First, however, full disclosure. As many readers will know, I’m heavily involved in the development and promotion of this series and so I am biased.
That said, I’ve heard Atkinson perform live on at least four other occasions, but I’ve never been more impressed by the work of this trio. Maybe it was my desire to see the series launch go well, the surprisingly good acoustics, or the intimate setting, but whatever the reason, I – and judging from their reaction – the entire audience was completely captivated and thrilled by the group’s rendering of a number of original compositions and a few covers.
It’s not just that Atkinson is so technically proficient that he can spin out seemingly impossible-to-play, breathtaking lines at will, it’s the emotional nuance and sense of humour in his work that are so engaging. Drawing on classical, jazz, roots, and even some rock traditions, he dips into a deep well he has visited many times to surprise and delight his audience with new takes on old tunes and sensitive renderings of his own highly melodic compositions.
And, of course, he is ably supported in these explorations by Michael Hamilton’s fiery rhythm guitar work and Joey Smith’s peerless work on the bass. It’s really hard to imagine a better roots/jazz trio performing anywhere in the world today and I include players like France’s Bireli Lagrene in that assessment.
A side note: Prior to this concert, we were a little concerned about the acoustics of the Spencer mansion. With its high ceilings and hardwood floors, it’s a very alive space, with considerable natural reverberation, somewhat akin to what you might hear in a large stairwell. We thought there might be too much echo with sound ping-ponging everywhere, but with an audience in place to dampen some of this effect, the acoustics proved to be nearly ideal, allowing every nuance of Atkinson’s awe-inspiring guitar work to be heard clearly.
This is an auspicious start to the series and I can’t wait to hear Montreal’s Marianne Trudel on Feb. 28. Although Atkinson’s concert was sold out, tickets, including discounted subscriptions, are still available for the rest of the series. More information can be had here.
– Rick Gibbs