Home > Events > U-JAM Launches a Brand New Jazz Series at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

U-JAM Launches a Brand New Jazz Series at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

December 18, 2009

Just when some people think jazz is dying, along comes a fabulous new concert series hosted by one of our major cultural institutions, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV), to prove them wrong.

That’s right, Jazz at the Gallery kicks off on Sunday, January 31 at 2 pm with a special appearance by the Marc Atkinson Trio and continues monthly until the end of May with performances from the likes of trombone legend Ian McDougall and Montreal’s innovative pianist, composer, and arranger Marianne Trudel.

How did this happen?

Well, it started with an idea. Back in August I approached U-JAM, the jazz society dedicated to the local scene in Victoria, with the suggestion that together we pitch a jazz series to the Gallery.

The idea isn’t new, of course. The Earshot Jazz Society runs a successful weekly series at the Seattle Art Museum and the Winnipeg Art Gallery hosts a popular jazz series outdoors on their rooftop during the summer and indoors during the winter. And, as Dave Paulson, one of the founding directors of U-JAM pointed out, the AGGV used to host jazz way back in the 1970s.

Anyway, U-JAM, specifically Dave Paulson and society president Mike de Turberville, got behind the proposal in a big way, as did Victoria musician Kelby MacNayr, who seemed like a natural choice for the inaugural artistic director. Together we approached Jon Tupper, the Gallery’s new director, and he, too, liked the idea, noting that jazz was a natural fit for an art institution. And so, a few months and a tonne of work later, we’re off and running with a fabulous new jazz series.

Kelby MacNayr has a real vision for Jazz at the Gallery. He sees it as an opportunity to generate new ideas, build “collaborative bridges” in both the local and wider jazz communities, and attract a new audience.

“When the performers begin to know that there’s an open, interested audience, they can use the series as a springboard for exploring new ideas,” says MacNayr, who foresees musicians composing new works and forming new musical relationships as a result of the opportunity the series provides.

Already this is happening. MacNayr originally approached Marianne Trudel with the idea of doing a solo piano show. Instead she thought a trio performance would work better and so will hook up with a local rhythm section, creating a spanking new collaboration between a highly respected Quebec musician and two of our own local world-class players.

MacNayr thinks the venue itself will encourage this process. “It lets the performers step out of their usual role and be much more up close and personal with the audience,” he says, pointing out that the intimate setting of the Gallery’s heritage Spencer Mansion where the concerts will be held is much more like performing in a private home, making it very different from a club, concert hall, or outdoor stage setting, the typical venues for jazz.

Ian McDougall, who only occasionally performs in Victoria and would normally be heard with a quintet or sextet down at Hermann’s, will appear with a trio very well suited to this intimacy. And pianist/composer Tony Genge, who will appear in May, plans a special piano trio tribute concert to Ahmad Jamal.

For the audience, of course, this means a truly engaging experience and the possibility of some real musical excitement. “The audience will get to hear world-class performers in an intimate venue,” says MacNayr, adding that this setting will encourage musicians to play “much more in the moment” as they connect closely with an audience that is really listening.

I encourage you to check out the series. But don’t delay. That intimate setting means only 100 seats are available and they are likely to be filled very fast. Here’s where you can learn more and find out how to reserve one for yourself.

– Rick Gibbs

Categories: Events
  1. vandermarkfan
    January 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I really dig your blog! Also if anyone is in the NYC area come Friday:

    Blue Note Management Group APAP Showcase:
    McCoy Tyner Trio with special guest Gary Bartz

    Francisco Mela’s Cuban Safari

    Jon Batiste Band

    Alfredo Rodriguez

    January 08,2010

    Concert starts @ 8PM
    Doors open @ 6PM
    Tickets $25.00

    Full dinner menu available / General Admission Seated Show / All Ages / First come, first seated / $10 min per person at tables

  2. Rick Gibbs
    December 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks, John!

  3. John Moore
    December 18, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Well done, Rick and Kelby. this is just what we need to bring jazz to a wider audience in the region. Keep us posted about the schedule, please!

    Salt Spring Island

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