Home > Events > Catch Six Jazz Greats and Rising Student Stars at the Westcoast Jazz Festival

Catch Six Jazz Greats and Rising Student Stars at the Westcoast Jazz Festival

April 23, 2009

Six of Canada’s jazz greats will appear at the Westcoast Jazz Festival next week at Vancouver Island University(VIU) in Nanaimo.

Saxophonist/pianist Ross Taggart, drummer/vibes player Michael Wood, guitarist Pat Coleman, trumpeter Lina Allemano, pianist Brent Jarvis, and bassist Ken Lister will adjudicate student performances and appear themselves in their own combo performance at the university theatre.

The festival, which runs from Thursday (April 30) to Sunday (May 2) features 96 student jazz bands and combos from schools throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island (Grades 6-12).

Established in the mid-1970’s by a group of mid-Island educators, including Diana Krall’s teacher Brian Stovell, the festival is one of the longest running events of its kind in the country. Festival chair Sarah Falls says, “It’s an opportunity for students and teachers to perform and strive for excellence, receive feedback from talented adjudicators, and hear great jazz.”

While the festival doesn’t produce rankings (1st, 2nd ,3rd, etc.), it does provide an opportunity for student players to achieve a personal best performance. Groups that reach a certain standard are then invited to appear at Musicfest Canada, a national event being held this year in Toronto. Various corporate sponsors have also donated funds to provide scholarships to young players.

Falls notes that the Island is still producing great young jazz performers, as they carry on a tradition established by the likes of Krall and Ingrid and Christine Jensen. She says that the Jensen’s in particular have been very supportive of student programs on the Island. (As noted in a previous Island Jazz article, Ingrid and Christine hope to do more fundraising this summer for programs in the Nanaimo area).

All student performances are free and open to the public. The only ticketed performance is the adjudicators’ combo gig on Friday night at 7pm. This show will also include appearances by the Nanaimo Music Association’s Big Band and by an all-star grade 12 combo. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

Unfortunately, the festival doesn’t currently have a website that provides more information, but the performances will take place all day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the theatre and choral room at VIU.

This event, which is the work of a dedicated group of mid-Island teachers who volunteer their time to produce it, is well worth supporting. You’ll hear high quality music and catch rising young jazz stars on their way up, not to mention hearing some of Canada’s greats in a unique sextet performance.

–Rick Gibbs

Categories: Events
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