The Bill Street Quintet will entertain at the Avalanche Bar & Grill Thursday, Sept. 26. Photo supplied

Bill Street Quintet coming to Courtenay

Melody and swing will be at the forefront as the Georgia Straight Jazz Society presents the Bill Street Quintet on Thursday Night Jazz at The Avalanche Bar.

Street is known to musicians across Canada and beyond as the man who brings his extensive jazz knowledge and experience to the booking of bands for the Georgia Straight Jazz Society. Here in the Comox Valley he’s known as a drummer of finesse and style who makes bands swing.

With Paoul Gagnon on keys, Mike Schwarz on reeds, Jeff Agopsowicz on trombone and Grahame Edwards on bass, the band will feature some much-loved standards as well as original tunes by both Edwards and Agopsowicz, along with some new material by Gagnon.

“This band is always as faithful as possible to the jazz of the ’50s and ’60s for the qualities that era gave us,” said Street.

That era was introduced by Miles Davis’s ‘Birth of the Cool,’ with swinging arrangements by veterans of the dance-band era, and young, inventive soloists such as Lee Konitz on alto sax, J.J. Johnson on trombone, Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax, and John Lewis on piano.

Trombone is a big part of that sound, and Agopsowicz brings his experience as soloist and ensemble player with Canadian Forces Bands and show bands on Celebrity Cruise Line ships.

The saxophone contributions come from Schwarz. Whether on tenor or alto, Schwarz’s extended, free-form improvisations remind us that this is truly modern jazz.

Gagnon will contribute some new tunes to the band’s growing repertoire as well as fresh solos with his characteristic cool groove. Edwards has honed his skills on upright and electric bass in countless local ensembles and productions in every genre from choral to musical theatre, big band jazz to classical. Like some members of ‘The Birth of the Cool’ band, he adds original compositions and arrangements to the mix.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Avalanche Bar & Grill (275 8th St, Courtenay) with tea lights on the tables and a special jazz night dinner menu, in addition to a selection of pub food.

Gerry Mulligan once wrote, “there are some words that I would like to bring to my music and have striven all my life to do: ‘beauty, grace and mobility.’ These are the things that music can bring to us, as human beings.” They are what The Bill Street Quartet will be serving up on Thursday night.

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