Thursday Night Jazz swings to big band music again this week. Hosting the evening from the Elks’ stage is the 17-piece Nanaimo Musicians’ Association Big Band, directed by VIU music teacher Bryan Stovell.
Formed in 1967 under the leadership of Stovell, the band has been in continuous operation for more than 40 years. University music instructor Steve Jones directed the band for 20 years, but it is now once again under Stovell’s baton.
Outstanding student musicians are invited to join the band each year. The impressive alumni list includes Diana Krall, Phil Dwyer, and Ingrid and Christine Jensen, all of whom acknowledge the valuable experience they gained as student musicians.
VIU Professor Greg Bush performs on trumpet and contributes his compositions and arrangements. Prof. Tom Delamere plays the baritone saxophone. VIU students form the rhythm section with Patrick Courtin on piano, Johnny Lucas on drums, Jenn Carnahan on bass and Jeff Saunders on guitar.
Several original band members including current trumpeter Al Campbell had played at Nanaimo’s legendary Pygmy Ballroom in the ’40s. The NMA is directly descended from the Pygmy orchestra and is celebrating its 43rd anniversary.
It’s the band’s second appearance on the Elks’ stage as part of the Thursday Night concert series, and there is a lot of excitement about the show. The last show, just before last Christmas was memorable, and earning a standing ovation.
Several of the musicians are well known to us since they also play in Arrowsmith Big Band, but don’t expect this to be a repeat performance of the great show we experienced three weeks ago — the NMA Big Band plays an entirely different repertoire.
The band will perform among others, Alfie, Far Side (composed by Nanaimo’s Greg Bush), Round Midnight, Struttin’ With Some Barbecue, and Sunny Side Of The Street.
You are encouraged to come down early for good seating. People arriving just before the 7:30 p.m. show time express disappointment that their group of four or six can’t find seating together.
But don’t let this dissuade you; come and see where the best jazz entertainment is on offer for only the cost of a suggested $5 donation each.
The Georgia Straight Jazz Society presents live jazz, featuring musicians of all ages from our region of Vancouver Island, every Thursday between September and June. It is committed to exposing jazz aficionados — whether performers or audience — to an opportunity to share time with people of similar interest.
— Georgia Straight Jazz Society