Jazz at the Gallery 2016
Jazz at the Gallery – 2016 -
This years series is now completed
Thanks to all who attended these great musical afternoons.
The U-JAM Society is pleased to partner with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to present outstanding west coast musicians in a series of Sunday afternoon concerts. Presenting jazz in an intimate, acoustic setting, allowing the audience the opportunity to virtually “sit in” with the musicians, joining them in a dialogue about the music and the musicians who create it. This year’s series features special tributes to the lives and music of four great legends that helped shape and re-define the art form we know as “jazz”.
Paying homage to those who shaped jazz
Last call for this season’s Sunday afternoon “tribute” concerts at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
JAZZ IS A GENRE defined by collaboration, creativity, interaction, and improvisation. While attending any musical performance can counter the isolating effects of our screen-driven culture, jazz’s unique alchemy reliably provides a sense of being in the flow of creative energy. Performances are influenced by whatever is happening in the moment. The internal landscape of the musician’s mood and the external landscape of the space and spectators can inspire shifts in melodies, harmonies, repeats and time signature, providing a you-just-had-to-be-there experience which, like a dream, can be difficult to describe after the fact.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) hosts an annual series of intimate, Sunday afternoon jazz concerts in the lofty-ceilinged heritage splendour of the Spencer Mansion’s main floor rooms, perfect for those who crave intimate and inspiring jazz and a low-key, daytime venue. Organized by the Universal Jazz Advocates and Mentors (U-JAM) Society, these “chamber jazz” performances give acoustic musicians and small audiences a way to meaningfully connect.
Victoria-based professional pianist Dave Paulson is an original founder of U-JAM. He leads me through the “old” part of the AGGV and gestures to one of the elaborately-tiled fireplaces. “This is usually where we set up the band,” he says, his voice reverberating in the naturally vibrant acoustics of the light-filled space. When I mention how much the room echoes, he assures me that when the maximum-capacity crowd of 75 people gathers, the music sounds rich and clear.
There’s a cluster of three large rooms on the main floor, all conjoined, and not all 75 spectators can fit into the one the band plays in. Paulson gestures to the dark, wood-panelled foyer (the one with the grand spiral staircase) and confesses that this is his favourite spot to perch during a concert. The acoustics are quite different from the livelier front rooms, and Paulson confirms that sitting here makes the sound even clearer. If you aim for the foyer, you’ll still be able to see the band.
That is, if you can get in. These Sunday afternoon U-JAM concerts at the AGGV, which happen roughly monthly from January through April each year, are typically sold out, even thoughVictoria is a notoriously last-minute town (much to the chagrin of event organizers). Your best bet is to reserve as soon as you read this; there are two concerts left in the season. Both are in April, and both are sure to be popular.
First up is “Maureen Washington sings Carmen McRae,” with Karel Roessingh on piano and and Joey Smith on bass. Late jazz diva Carmen McRae’s “dramatic and nuanced readings of standards put her at the forefront of vocal jazz,” says Paulson. “One of the best ever,” raves vocalist Maureen Washington, who personally chose the artist to whom she wished to pay homage. “It was an easy choice for me. I love her approach to singing. She imparts her own style while staying true to the song.”
Washington, who hails originally from Prince George, is one of the most popular singers in Victoria, and for good reason. She won 2014 “Best Jazz and Soul Act” at the Black Canadian Awards, and her renditions of MacRae’s best-known songs, such as Dave Brubeck’s classic “Take Five” (performed with lyrics) are both lithe and rich, with a dynamically deep and soulful sound. Her local following is large, so this opportunity to hear her in a smaller venue will likely be a hot ticket.
The men backing her up have their own loyal fans as well. Joey Smith is arguably one of the best bass players in Canada, and has a jam-packed schedule performing with many other esteemed musicians in the region when he’s not backing up Washington. Karel Roessingh has star quality as an innovative pianist, composer, and veteran of film and TV scoring.
If you’re reading this too late to get in on the early-April action, there’s another concert later in the month: “Conversations with Bill Evans,” featuring Brent Jarvis on piano, bassist Ken Lister and drummer Hans Verhoeven. Bill Evans “helped re-define the sound of the jazz piano in the 1960s with a minimalist, introspective approach to the instrument,” says Paulson. “His early trio recordings were also unique in that they gave equal room for expression from the bass and drums, rather than being piano-centred.”
Jarvis, who chose Bill Evans as his tribute, hails from “the unlikely jazz hub of Port Alberni” and received a performance degree in Jazz Studies from Humber College. He’s also a producer and composer, one of many accomplished musicians who make their home here. “We’re really lucky with our musicians in Victoria,” Paulson says of this bounty of local talent.
A music educator as well as performer, Paulson helped found U-JAM 11 years ago with a mission to advocate, mentor and act as a resource for lovers of music. (Paulson is wary of defining “jazz” too specifically, except to say there is some kind of improvisation involved.) “We came together to envision a new society to bring together various resources and act as an accessory to what the Jazz Society was doing. They produce the Jazz Festival and many concerts, but the educational mandate was a way [U-JAM] could contribute.”
And educate they do. U-JAM’s “Young All-Stars” project meets every week. “We bring together kids ages 12-18 on Saturdays to rehearse with a mentor from the jazz community,” explains Paulson. There is a similar mentoring program for adults, who get together with others who may have skills on an instrument, but want to learn about playing collaboratively.
Rick Gibbs, a retired schoolteacher and amateur musician, came up with the idea for the gallery series to offer musicians and audiences a new way to interact. U-JAM approached the gallery with the idea of having a concert series in the winter, “and they were pretty enthusiastic about it,” Paulson says. U-JAM and the AGGV split the ticket proceeds. This is the series’ seventh year.
“On Sunday afternoon, you get a different crowd than those who would go to Hermann’s on a Friday night,” says Paulson. “You get admission to the gallery for the price of the ticket as well. We encourage people to visit the gallery during he interval.” Musicians play two sets with a 20-minute intermission, during which there is tea, juice, and a chance to chat up the musicians.
Paulson seeks to inspire and build community through these tribute concerts. “You don’t just sit and listen, but ask questions and interact with the performers, who share anecdotes. It’s more personal. You get a better knowledge of how the music was created and where it came from when you understand who the artist was and what they were dealing with in their life.”
Jazz at the Gallery: Sunday, April 3, 2 pm, “Maureen Washington sings Carmen McRae” with Karel Roessingh and Joey Smith.
Sunday, April 24, 2 pm, “Conversations with Bill Evans” with the Brent Jarvis Trio.
At the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Tickets (including admission to the Gallery’s exhibits) $35, with discounts available for AGGV and U-JAM members. Tickets at 250-384-4171 ext 0.
COMPLETED : we had a wonderful afternoon with Roy Styffe, sax and Friends, including Steve MacDonald on guitar, Ross MacDonald on bass, Kelby McNair on drums.
Feb28 - Oscar Peterson was indisputably Canada’s most famous jazz musician, known for his hard swinging style and virtuosic technique. Pianist Miles Black has extensive experience in transcribing his performances and offers a wonderful afternoon of exciting music.
On April 3rd, we welcome vocalist Maureen Washington, along with Karel Roessingh and Joey Smith, to the stage to pay their respects to jazz diva Carmen McRae.
April 24 -To close out the series, we have engaged Brent Jarvis and his trio to visit the life and music of pianist Bill Evans. Evans, who performed one of his last concerts in Victoria in 1980, created impressionistic sounds on the piano with his unique chord voicings, introspective improvisations, and recreations of popular songs.
Sunday, January 31st – ”The Sound” – Roy Styffe and Friends visit the music of Stan Getz
Sunday, February 28th – “The Life and Music of Oscar Peterson” with pianist Miles Black
Sunday, April 3rd - “Maureen Washington sings Carmen McRae” with Karel Roessingh and Joey Smith
Sunday, April 24th – “Conversations with Bill Evans” – with the Brent Jarvis Trio
Concerts are held at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on the last Sunday afternoon of each month at 2:00 p.m., from January through April 2015. Individual tickets (including admission to the Gallery’s exhibits) are $35, with discounts available for AGGV and U-JAM members. Series subscriptions, including best seats in the house, are only $100.00.
Tickets and information are available through the Gallery
call 250-384-4171 ext 1.
**Steinway Grand Piano graciously supplied by Tom Lee Music
"Jazz at the Gallery" - 2015
"Jazz at the Gallery" - last for the year.
Rounding off a wonderful season, three perfect professionals
Jennifer Scott - Rene Worst - Bill Coon delighted our audience with some great standards and exciting Brazilian grooves.
Jazz at the Gallery -'Quotes'
Background of Jazz At the Gallery
Local and regional jazz musicians and their combos that have performed in the past include:
2014: Damian Graham Trio, Al Pease and His Hothouse Trio, Miranda Sage and Phil Dwyer, Oliver Gannon and Ian McDougall
2013: Phil Dwyer, Melinda Whitaker, Photo Realists featuring Nick LaRiviere, the Great Guitars (Rob Cheramy, Quinn Bachand, Bill Coon)
2012: Joe Coughlin, Tony Westlake, Joey Smith, Gord Clements
2011: Ian McDougall and Oliver Gannon, Louise Rose, Miles Black, Daniel Lapp
2010: Mark Atkinson, Ian McDougall, Kelby MacNayr, Marianne Trudel
Thanks to Barb McDougall for the photo below, taken at the April 27, 2014 JATG concert.
Steinway Grand Piano provided courtesy of Tom Lee Music