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Valdy Goes Big Band with the Victoria Jazz Orchestra

February 20, 2019

Valdy photo by David Borrowman

Juno-winning folk legend Valdy will team with the Victoria Jazz Orchestra (VJO) in a unique cross-genre show on Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 pm at Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria.

Island Jazz interviewed Valdy and VJO director Monik Nordine by email to learn more about the show. If anything emerged from the separate interviews, it’s that while the music industry (and music journalists) like to put things into boxes, musicians see only commonalities. I’ve combined the two interviews into one edited version for simplicity.

IJ  Monik, How did the VJO get involved in this project?

MN I was the director of the Swing Shift Community Big Band when I lived on Salt Spring Island and my dad, Ron Nordine, was a trumpet player in that group for over 20 years.  My friend Derrick Milton is now the director of this group and the idea for the show “Valdy Goes Big Band” came from him. When they presented this show on Salt Spring Island last June, my partner Chris Watt and I went over to see it and it was just such a wonderful presentation I thought we should do it with the VJO.

IJ  Valdy, What attracted you to the project?

V There is a lift playing with other musicians, a lift not available as a
solo artist. The audience is equally important in both cases, providing a raison d’etre,
but duos, combos, stage bands, symphonies all provide such fertile ground
for dicking around with the music; harmonic structure resonates in such
different manners when playing with keyboard, bassoon, horn section,
rhythm section, strings.

IJ  Monik, can you say a bit about the challenge of melding folk music with jazz?

MN In my interview with Valdy he said that he sees folk music as the root or basis of all music and I would have to agree with him on this.  If I define myself as a jazz artist (which I do) but recognize folk music as the basis of all music then these two styles must have commonalities.   So what we are working with is the things we have in common, which is melody.  Valdy is a big jazz fan and his songs lend themselves well to “jazzification”.

IJ  Valdy, can you elaborate on your feelings about the relationship between folk and jazz?

V I have a rather broad definition of folk music: the music most played by,
most sought after, and most enjoyed by humanity. This is a vast, inclusive
category, allowing me to delve into every genre, from hip-hop to jazz to
nursery rhymes to torch songs. These genres may be exclusive, but folk is
inclusive, allowing musical adventure and cross-pollination.

IJ  How did your interest in jazz begin and develop?

V Henry Mancini was my doorway, my portal, to melody and accompaniment,
starting with “Music from Peter Gunn” 1956 in Ottawa. Then it was Dave Brubeck; I was a piano student for five years – only got to grade three, poor student – but learned a couple of his riffs, which enhanced my melody-making, also in Ottawa circa ’59 to ’62.

IJ  Monik, can you tell us a bit more about the program?

MN Valdy has had input on the program of course as he is the featured artist and we will be performing some of his material with the jazz orchestra. Valdy will sing a few jazz standards with the big band accompanying him. Valdy is a big jazz fan, and this really carries through in his delivery of the standards.  The VJO will be augmenting the concert with VJO material, some new and some familiar, and at least two of my own original compositions.

Monik Nordine photo by Luis Porretta

Tickets ($32/$37) can be purchased through the Victoria Conservatory of Music and Ticketfly.com.


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