Special to The Record
For those people who have been asking when the Georgia Strait Jazz Society would bring in some more traditional jazz and the music of New Orleans, this is your week! Andrew Homzy’s N.O.L.A Nighthawks returns to the Avalanche stage this Thursday evening at 7:30.
People who attended the performance last September will remember the amazing night when the Av was packed; the place went wild with excitement generated by the amazing music; the dancers were out, and we were introduced to each tune with a short history lesson about its origins.
“What you heard last time was our debut performance,” Andrew told me in an interview last week. “Since then, we played a Jazz Vespers at the church in Mill Bay, where we interacted with the minister in exploring the spiritual and celebratory side of the music – for example my arrangement of St. James Infirmary used the Bach chorale as a prelude.
“In Nanaimo, I recently produced a concert/dance at the historic and elegant Dorchester Hotel which attracted an audience of 200 people – a large majority of them were not jazz aficionados. We also did a parade complete with a second-line contingent carrying decorative umbrellas and our Grand Marshall throwing out beads to the audience. While my mission is to focus on the art of jazz, we did acknowledge, in this case the party-band aspect of The Big Easy as well as the popular dance music – R&B and funk which had such a great influence on North American popular music. The buzz after that event was incredible.”
For their return to the Avalanche, Nighthawks will play at least a half dozen new pieces mixed in with what have become their personal and most popular favourites. The band is even considering playing a piece by Thelonius Monk which has a bayou connection.
“Our personnel remains the same, with the exception of Claudio Fantinato on clarinet. (For most, this is a real surprise since Claudio is recognized as a star performer on the sax.) This Thursday Claudio will be featured on a piece called My Inspiration, which was composed for New Orleans clarinetist Irving Fazolla of the Bob Crosby Band by bassist/composer Bob Haggart in 1938. My arrangement expands and updates the original score.”
Andrew added, “our charming vocalist – Brian Whitty, OCV – is a permanent band member and he will be featured in two new songs, one of them an original composition of mine called: Frenchmen Street. This will be a world premiere performance.”
This is no ordinary evening – even by the Jazz Society’s standards. Get there early to avoid disappointment.
Why not come out and discover why it is that Courtenay has the best jazz scene on Vancouver Island? Like we were told by a visiting performer two weeks ago, “Everyone knows that as far as jazz is concerned, Courtenay is where it’s at.”
Admission is $10 for members; $12 for non-members.