Home > Events > Jazz in the Garden a Resounding Success

Jazz in the Garden a Resounding Success

August 17, 2009

Jazz in the Garden

Jazz in the Garden at Qualicum Beach

Jazz in the Garden 2009

Phil Dwyer and the folks at Milner Gardens did a superb job producing this year’s Jazz in the Garden, now the flagship event of the newly established Phil Dwyer Jazz Festival. Dwyer’s own status as a highly respected Canadian musician allowed him to attract some of the best talent on the continent, from the rapidly-rising Amanda Tosoff Quartet, to the likes of Don Thompson, PJ Perry, and Michel Donato – not to mention scoring Paul Grant as emcee for this year’s event. The weather was perfect, the crowd huge, and the music superb. As well, CBC radio recorded a segment for later broadcast on Hot Air. Jazz fans on Vancouver Island are truly blessed to have such high quality jazz events. Kudos to all involved.

Paul Grant

Paul Grant

Paul Grant

Retired CBC Hot Air host Paul Grant was a more-than-fitting emcee. Grant opened the afternoon by remarking that he had emceed the Kaslo Jazz Festival for a number of years and always thought it had the most spectacular outdoor setting. However, looking around him at the west coast beauty of Qualicum’s Milner Gardens, he said, “I think you’ve got them beat.”

Phil Dwyer paid tribute to Grant by noting all the fine years of radio Grant has produced and adding that he’d personally listened to Hot Air since he was about eight years old. For his part, Grant said that the first time he met Dwyer in person, Dwyer had scatted the entire Hot Air theme for him. “He won my heart from that day forward.”

Ingrid Jensen

Ingrid Jensen

The Amanda Tosoff Quartet with special guest Ingrid Jensen

The Amanda Tosoff Quartet from Vancouver, this year’s winner of the GM Grand Prix de Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival, opened the show with a superb set of mostly original tunes that more than demonstrated that jazz is in good hands with fine young musicians like pianist Tosoff, bassist Sean Cronin, drummer Morgan Childs, and saxophonist Evan Arntzen. The thrilling trumpet and flugelhorn work of Ingrid Jensen helped this group soar.

Marc Atkinson

Marc Atkinson

The Marc Atkinson Trio

Jazz in the Garden proved to be the debut gig for The Marc Atkinson Trio’s new rhythm guitarist, Michael Hamilton, originally of the String Bustin’ Cats. He’s so new, in fact, that Atkinson said they’d had time for only one rehearsal. It didn’t seem to matter, though, as this venerable gypsy jazz group, anchored by Joey Smith on bass, cooked on a mix of standards and Atkinson originals.

Seamus Blake

Seamus Blake

The Seamus Blake Quartet with Phil Dwyer

Saxophonist Seamus Blake remarked that when he was growing up in Vancouver, Phil Dwyer was his idol. He remembers being a 15 year old watching Dwyer, who was then about 19, perform with the likes of Hugh Fraser. Blake said he’d go home after the gig, pick up his student saxophone, stand in front of the mirror, and wish that he could play as well. For his part, Dwyer acknowledged Blake’s remarkable development as a player, to the point where he is now making his mark in New York City. Blake said this was only the second time the two have ever played together and so he was pretty excited to have Dwyer (on piano) be part of his quartet. With the addition of Ken Lister on bass and Jon Wikan on drums, the group delivered a killer set. Paul Grant summed it up at the end by saying, “Not enough!” to a cheer from the crowd. Alas, no encore ensued since there was a still another group to be heard. However, this set was recorded by CBC radio and will be broadcast on Hot Air sometime in the fall.

PJ Perry

PJ Perry

The Canadian Jazz All-Stars with Vocalist Joani Taylor

As Paul Grant said when he introduced the group, the label “all-star” shouldn’t be used lightly. With over 120 years of experience at the top of the jazz world between them, PJ Perry, Don Thompson, and Michel Donato certainly qualify for the term. And they lived up to their title, delivering a lively set of bebop standards and original tunes capped by a performance from Joani Taylor that demonstrated she still has much of the power and expressiveness that made her one of the most respected vocalists on the Canadian scene.

You can see more photos at the new Island Jazz Flickr site here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/islandjazz/

–Rick Gibbs


Categories: Events
%d bloggers like this: