If you’re looking to get all jazzed up with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day the McMillan Arts Centre (MAC) in Parksville could be your ticket to romantic affair.
A new series of concerts called Jazz at the MAC will kick off with a performance by Ralph Barrat and the Sharp Seven on February 14.
A musical treat for jazz buffs, the concert is sure to transport you back to an era when jazz ruled the airwaves and Frank Sinatra was the coolest crooner around. The Sharp Seven is one of the Comox Valley’s newest jazz combos and features songs of the Sinatra and Ellington era including Mack the Knife and Take the A Train.
Ralph Barrat is a singer/pianist from the Comox Valley and he is bringing with him a seven piece ensemble that will perform some of the greatest jazz standards ever arranged.
The group includes some accomplished Vancouver Island musicians who know their jazz.
On trumpet is Gregory Bush a professor of music at VIU. Michael Eddy is on keyboard and he is from the ARCT Royal Conservatory of Music. Don Mackay who has his Masters in Jazz Composition is the bass player.
On alto sax and flute is Troy Lucas who has a music degree at VIU. Paul Nuez is on trombone while drummer Rob Peterson keeps the beat going.
Jazz at the MAC will be held the second Friday of the month with concerts booked right through to September.
Ray Griffiths is helping coordinate the monthly concert series. The trumpet player is one of the founders of the Georgia Straight Jazz Society and for many years performed in jam sessions at various venues in the Comox Valley.
When he moved to Parksville about four years ago he joined the Oceanside Concert Band and the Craig Bay resident also plays for fun with a group of musicians in the neighbourhood.
“There’s about seven of us. We all live at Craig Bay and we have a band called the Craig Bay Little Band,” he revealed.
He said he and one of his jazz cats in Craig Bay conceived the jazz series as a way to generate some funds for the cash-strapped MAC.
“The idea came up because Dave Klinger, who is on board of Oceanside Community Arts Council, also plays piano in our little band. We are trying to revitalize the MAC and part of it is to have more musical events.”
He said the ambitious project at the MAC isn’t meant to compete with the popular music programs at TOSH which include more international performers.
“We are not in competition with TOSH … we are trying to use local musicians.”
Griffiths is hopeful the OCAC jazz series will appeal to a wide audience and will keep the MAC going for many years to come.
Several local acts have already been booked including Bill Cave and the Desperation Jazz Band performing some great Dixieland pieces on March 14.
Ralph Barrat and the Sharp Seven perform February 14 at 7 p.m., at the McMillan Arts Centre located at 133 McMillan Street in Parksville. For more information, call 250-248-8185. Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 for OCAC members.
Trumpet player Ray Griffiths and piano player Dave Klinger like to jazz it up and the musicians have lined up a stellar series of jazz concerts they hope will keep the intimate venue at the McMillan Arts Centre alive and well in Parksville.