Celebrated Jazz Vocalist Joe Coughlin Salutes the Saloon Singers in Oak Bay Benefit Concert at the Dave Dunnet Theatre

November 21, 2017 Comments off

Concert poster

Categories: Events

The Victoria Jazz Orchestra Presents Oliver Nelson’s Peter and the Wolf

October 24, 2017 1 comment


peter and the wolfJoined by Tony Genge on the Hammond organ, the Victoria Jazz Orchestra will be performing the music of Oliver Nelson, including selections from Nelson’s reworking of “Peter and the Wolf” by Sergei Prokofiev (from the 1966 album featuring Jimmy Smith) on November 11 at Hermann’s Jazz Club on View Street in Victoria. 
Island Jazz interviewed VJO director Monik Nordine about the project and her work with the VJO.


1. Monik, why did you choose this material?

I chose this material for a number of reasons.  Mainly I love Jimmy Smith and I love the sound of the Hammond organ of the 1960’s.  I love Oliver Nelson’s writing.  And I absolutely love their collaborations.  And so, I felt I had no choice but to present this material.  Given that Tony Genge is now living in Victoria and plays the Hammond Organ like nobody’s business it just fell into place.
2. In your press release you commented that the music is not politically suggestive in any way.  What did you mean? 
The original libretto was propaganda aimed at children in the Soviet Union in the 1930’s.
The adaptation by Oliver Nelson has no narration and is not intended to be an allegory of any kind.  I am, however, hoping to have a narrator simply to provide a story line to the music.  The great Russian composers seem to have had an ability above all others to convey (in metaphorical terms of course) a tale which takes the listener on a voyage.  “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky for example, or many of the works by Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky.  It is actually a coincidence that The Russian Revolution took place 100 years ago in October; I didn’t think of this when I started the planning for this show.
3. Tell us about your work with the VJO.
The Victoria Jazz Orchestra has been a pet project of mine since June of 2013.  It is more or less a continuation of the Monday Night Big Band which I was a part of from 2001 until 2006.  When I moved to Victoria in 2011 I hoped that it would start again and when nobody else took it on I decided to give it a whirl.  Some of the Monday Night Big Band members are still with the Orchestra, such as our French horns Karen Hough and Marc Patsula.  We almost always have Tom Vickery with us on piano, although he will not be with us for this next show as Tony is our featured guest artist.  Tom Eadie is often with us on trombone and trumpet players Dave Flello and Marianne Ing were often with the Monday Night Big Band.
The library from the MNBB is in my office and I have been adding to it over the years with repertoire I find interesting such as the Coltrane Africa Brass arrangements which we performed with Ryan Oliver and now this Oliver Nelson material.
One of the thoughts behind the project is that unlike the classical music world, there are no jobs waiting for jazz musicians in symphony orchestras when they graduate from university.  There is a huge lack of infrastructure in the form of jobs and grant funding for jazz (a term that is the easiest one to use for this music, although many people have brought forward other names, such as: African American Music, North American Classical Music etc).  If there were well run and well funded jazz orchestras across North America players would have more to work towards with the decline in other areas of the industry.  So this jazz orchestra project has the potential to serve a higher purpose.
4. What can the audience expect from this performance? 
We are hoping that people are entertained by the funkiness of the Hammond organ and the power of the brass, moved by the swing and groove of the fantastic arrangements and perhaps even delighted by hearing the Prokofiev themes in this setting.
For information on tickets visit Monik Nordine’s web page.
Categories: Events

Saxophonist Mike Allen Tours Vancouver Island to Celebrate Canadian Guitar Legend Sonny Greenwich

September 20, 2017 2 comments


The Mike Allen Quartet (with Miles Black-piano, Steve Holy-bass and Dave Robbins-drums) will be performing new and vintage compositions by Canadian jazz guitarist Sonny Greenwich as well as new compositions by Allen and his bandmates on a tour of shows on Vancouver Island from Sept 29 to Oct 8 which includes stops in Cumberland, Mill Bay, Nanaimo, Parksville and Gabriola Island.

Mike’s band will be heading into the studio to record later this fall; the new album entitled Mike Allen Quartet: Celebrating Sonny Greenwich is scheduled for release in early 2018.

In this exclusive Island Jazz interview Mike talks about his unique association with Greenwich and the tour. 

For specific dates and times see below.

Mike, how did you first meet Sonny Greenwich?
My first time hearing Sonny play live was in 1984 at the Kingston Jazz Society. I had just started to get deep into Coltrane, and coincidently was writing a paper on improvisation in Western music as part of my music degree at Queen’s University. My assignment provided the impetus to go up and talk with Sonny after the gig and in passing he offered the following golden words that I’ve never forgotten and still live by. He said “there are no mistakes in jazz, only opportunities for more beauty”.

After I moved to Montreal in 1985, I was able to attend several of Sonny’s quartet shows at Club 2080, the local jazz hot spot of the day. His playing was like magic to my ears; that particular incarnation of his band (with Fred Henke-piano, Ron Sequin-bass and Andre White-drums) was superb. At some point as I was developing and making a name for myself on the Montreal scene, Sonny must have heard a recording or heard from someone else that we shared a certain aesthetic in our musical choices. Along with John Coltrane, Sonny was my major musical influence; I was definitely trying to follow in his footsteps. Out of the blue, he called up on the telephone in 1989 to ask if I’d be interested in doing a recording and some performances. We hadn’t spoken again since that first time in Kingston, I was absolutely floored and honoured to be the first tenor saxophonist invited to join his group in over a decade. Of course I said yes.

You were in his band for several years. What was that like?

From 1989 to 1995 his eight-piece and five-piece groups were pretty active, recording and performing at clubs and jazz festivals. Sonny doesn’t fly due to a childhood bout of double-pneumonia so international and cross-country travel was not possible; we played regionally and locally. In those bands the repertoire was his originals. I became very familiar with his style of composing and band leading and developed an affinity for both. Fortunately Sonny enjoyed rehearsing and imparting advice on how he wanted the music to be played, so I got invaluable training during my time with his bands. We continue to perform and record together since I left for New York and then Vancouver in 1995; I’ve returned on a few occasions to record with Sonny in Montreal and Toronto.
You’ve called him “my Miles Davis.” Why?

I believe Sonny is a musical genius. Soon after I joined his band I started to notice that we react to musical moments in similar ways. It became obvious that we are kindred spirits despite his 30-year head start. The way he is able to “sing” a melody on the guitar completely fascinates me. He has inspired and shaped my musical focus more than anyone else. Learning from being on stage and in studio with him is the greatest education I will ever receive as a musician. For me, he is the Miles Davis of the guitar – when he isn’t being the John Coltrane of the guitar! When we talk on the phone, I mostly listen.

What inspired you to embark on this tour?

Sonny started composing some new tunes recently and has been sending them to me to check out. The new ones are stunning, just like his older tunes and I feel that they deserve to be heard, now that he is not performing as much (he is 81). With his blessing I’m thrilled to share some of my favourite SG tunes with people on the west coast. And helping to draw some attention to the incredible musical legacy of my mentor is just icing on the cake.

What can folks expect in the workshop and the show?

The workshop will be engaging and interactive; we encourage everyone to bring their instruments. We have arrangements with simple transposed parts and some improvising sections that allow people of all levels to experience what it feels like to play with us. We also do a short rhythm workshop led by Dave Robbins which involves clapping patterns and weaving polyrhythms. There will be a short Q&A if time permits. Afterwards in the club, we will have a whiskey, fire it up and let loose on Sonny’s tunes, some originals of mine, and a few jazz standards.

The Mike Allen Quartet will be at Studio Live (Cumberland) on Sept 29 at 8pm, Phoenix Auditorium At The Haven (Gabriola Island) on Sept 30 at 7:30pm, Lighthouse Bistro (Nanaimo) on Oct 1 at 7:30pm, Hermann’s Jazz Club (Victoria) on Oct 6 at 8pm, Sylvan United Church (Mill Bay) on Oct 7 at 7pm, Char’s Landing (Port Alberni) on Oct 8 at 2:30pm, and McMillan Arts Centre (Parksville) on Oct 8 at 7pm. 

Note: The Victoria show at Hermann’s will include a workshop at 6 pm. Participants are encouraged to bring their instruments. Admission is $10. 

MAQ 2017 VI Tour-Hermann's and workshop

Categories: Events

Trumpet Star Bria Skonberg Headlines 12th Annual Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society Fundraiser

May 24, 2017 Comments off

Bria Skonberg_PR1_C.Palmgren2017 Juno Winner and trumpet/vocal star Bria Skonberg will be the featured performer at “Jazz Affair,” the Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society’s annual fundraiser for local student music programs, this Friday, May 26th, at the Coast Bastion Hotel.

The Chilliwack, BC, native has made a name for herself in New York and recently won the 2017 Juno for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for her self-titled Sony Music release Bria. In its citation the Juno Awards said, “Elite jazz chops, artfully mixed with worldly rhythms and contemporary songwriting, result in a sophisticated pop sound closely resembling that of Michael Bublé, Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr.”

Skonberg has received accolades from The Wall Street Journal, Downbeat, Vanity Affair and Jazz at Lincoln Center. The Wall Street Journal  described her as one of the “most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.”

The evening includes a dinner, concert performances, silent auction, and raffles. Tickets are $60 per person and are available through the Port Theatre box office at 125 Front Street, Nanaimo. 250-754-8550. Doors open at 6 pm.

If you haven’t heard Skonberg before, with her sophisticated vocals and elegant trumpet lines, she’s definitely worth a listen.


Categories: Events

Celebrated Pianist Larry Fuller Plays Victoria and Salt Spring

May 17, 2017 Comments off

Larry Fuller May 19 17NYC Pianist Larry Fuller, who has worked with everyone from Ray Brown to John Legend, plays three shows this week in Victoria and on Salt Spring Island. He appears with drummer Kelby MacNayr and bassist John Lee in MacNayr’s Art of the Trio Series on Friday, May 19th at Hermann’s (8pm) and on Saturday, May 20th (7:30pm) at Salt Spring United Church.

On Sunday , May 21st (7pm) he returns to Hermann’s as part of a quintet that includes Chris Davis on trumpet and Ryan Oliver on sax. The trio shows celebrate the legacy of Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson, while the quintet show will explore the work of Cannonball Adderley, Duke Ellington and Ray Brown.

Categories: Events
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