Georgia Jazz calls on a local favourite

Comox Valley vocalist Ralph Barrat at the Avalanche Bar & Grill

Ralph Barrat is at The Av on Thursday.

The Georgia Strait Jazz Society is featuring a local favourite for their Thursday night show this week.

Performing songs from the encyclopedic book of classic standards, Comox Valley vocalist Ralph Barrat will hit the stage at the Avalanche Bar & Grill.

Barrat will be accompanied by keyboardist Marty Steele and his band, featuring the effervescent James McRae on the drums and the steady and reliable hand of Andrew Janusson on guitar. The trio comprises three-fourths of the Jimmy Smith Tribute Band that electrified the Avalanche audience last May.

Steele is Nanaimo’s most versatile and busiest keyboardist. He’s played at almost every venue possible in the Hub City over the last three and a half years, as well as jazz festivals throughout the Island.

Bandleader, soloist, accompanist, and the undisputed master of the left hand keyboard bass, his explosive energy on stage helps create magical musical moments.

McRae is the most sought after drummer on Vancouver Island. Along with being Marty’s personal drummer, he appears with many groups, including Triadically Hip, Boss Tenors, the Jennifer Scott Trio, the Gordon Lightfoot Tribute Band, and many more.

When Steele and McRae perform together, it confirms the old saying that the sum is better than the parts.

And the same adage holds true when Janusson joins in on guitar.

He’s the perfect complement for the trio, bringing a rock-solid stability to the rhythm section, along with an easy-going style of playing. Janusson has played on many of Steele’s and McRae’s projects, and his emergence as a capable bandleader in his own right is a pleasant surprise.

Barrat is the vocal icing to this musical creation.

Barrat is well known at the jazz club as an accomplished self-accompanying pianist/vocalist in his own right, but on Thursday he’s free to swing at the mic a la Sinatra, Bobby Darrin, etc. knowing that he has a solid backing to add to his superb singing style.

Admission is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. For more information about the Jazz Society, and its forthcoming events,  visit or find us on Facebook.


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