The big bands played on

The Arrowsmith Big Band. - Submitted Photo
The Arrowsmith Big Band.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

Jazz lovers in Oceanside have an opportunity to party this weekend with not one, but two of Vancouver Island’s great big bands.

Tremendous sounds of modern jazz will emanate from Knox United Church Sunday afternoon as two big bands come together to perform at the Parksville church.

Oceanside’s own Arrowsmith Big Band continues its “two for the price of one” presentations on November 20 with a live concert performance that features invited guests, the Georgia Strait Big Band from Courtenay.

Between them, the bands showcase the musical talents of over 30 players made up of professional musicians, school and university music instructors, as well as some of the area’s best student players. Award winning trombonist Julian Telfer-Wan of Kwalikum Secondary School’s (KSS) jazz program will be among the amazing talented musicians who make up the Arrowsmith group. It formed in 1975 under well-known swing trumpeter and music teacher Bill Cave.

The Arrowsmith Big Band members are from Oceanside, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Courtenay and rehearse once a week at KSS.

Arrowsmith Big Band drummer Michael Wright said the concert will be a feast for people who love jazz music. The two bands will be performing great swinging big band arrangements from Count Basie to the present day. He said they will perform a few classics from the 1940’s but the audience can expect to hear more modern big band arrangements.

He said they will play the music of Canadian jazz greats Bob Florence, Rob McConnell and Gordon Goodwill.

The Georgia Strait Big Band started four years ago, under the direction of Don Mackay. After two years of excellent leadership, Don was succeeded by current director Gregory Bush, Professor of Jazz at Vancouver Island University, who incidentally, drives every Monday night from his home in Nanaimo, to lead the band.

His passion for jazz is shared by all the members of the band, which includes vocalists Jenn Forsland and Sue Medley.

The concert at Knox United Church in Parksville is on Sunday Nov. 20 starting at 2.30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available in advance from Flix ‘n’ Pix Video in Parksville and What’s Cooking in Qualicum Beach.


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