Thursday jazz at Elks opens 2011 with Fractal

One of the great challenges of Thursday Night Jazz at the Elks is the introduction of little-known (or new) presenters.

FRACTAL OPENS 2011 for Thursday jazz nights at the Elks Hall in Courtenay.

FRACTAL OPENS 2011 for Thursday jazz nights at the Elks Hall in Courtenay.

One of the great challenges of Thursday Night Jazz at the Elks is the introduction of little-known (or new) presenters.

The last Thursday concert before Christmas, performed by the Nanaimo Musicians’ Association Big Band — a first-time appearance on our stage — resulted in a less-than-average audience, which was really unfortunate. By the end of their second set, they earned a standing ovation, and for sure, the next time they play for us, word of mouth alone will guarantee a full house.

Similarly, our first concert of 2011 this week is performed by Fractal — another first-time performance — and rather than waiting to find out how good the performance was, you are encouraged to get out and beat the winter blahs with this great act.

The quartet, which began in the spring of 2008, features the island flavour of Tony Morrison on flute, alto, soprano and tenor saxophones. He has mentored under the artistry of reed-legend Art Ellefson (Modus).

The quartet also features renowned jazz veteran Roger Baird on drum kit and hang, an instrument invented in the year 2000.

Baird’s hang playing brings out hauntingly exotic tones reminiscent of African udu and Indian tablas. Baird is most known for his stunning collaborations with pianist Miles Black in Baird’s Black and White Trio.

Fretless and six-string bassist Britt Bowman studied with Ken Lister and Lee Ellefson at the formerly named Malaspina University College before travelling to Mexico, where she shared the stage with artists such as African-trained dancer Karina Gutierrez, percussionist Candido Hernandes (Lila Downs/Celso Duarte), and Oscar Robles, forming part of the Manglar Collective, a pioneering band at the forefront of Mexico’s world beat movement.

Fractal showcases Robles on electric guitar and Chapman Stick, a rare and relatively new instrument invented by Emmett Chapman in 1969. The Stick’s innovative design was developed specifically for tap-style playing.

Robles employs various cutting-edge techniques on this incredible instrument and his composition, entitled Dunas, won first place at the INBAI 2010 international contest. He has studied with the legendary Don Schiff and virtuoso Bob Culbertson.

Fusing the offerings of world music with an unbridled and fun, jazzy energy, Fractal is a fearlessly flavourful and uniquely decadent dish for the ears … groovy sax licks, coupled with searing-hot improvisation over free-forming soundscape.

While Fractal’s sound may be tough to pigeonhole, the result is a dazzling fusion of Latin, Brazilian and African rhythms with jazz, blues and R&B. More information about Fractal and samples of their music can be found at www.myspace.com/fractalfusion.

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Jazz Society members are reminded that the AGM will be held at the Elks’ Hall commencing at 6 p.m., prior to Fractal’s performance. Plan on attending and have an influence over the direction of the organization.

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Jazz aficionados are advised that tickets will go on sale this Thursday evening for the Jan. 30 Sunday concert by the Griffith-Hiltz Trio. As well, tickets will be on sale at Bop City Records.

Visit www.georgiastraightjazz.com for more information on this and the 2011 schedule.

— Georgia Straight Jazz Society