The renowned Arntzen family is back in Parksville playing jazz this Sunday while patrons enjoy a bit of wine, cheesecake and tea at the Morningstar farm.
Jazz, Tea and Cheesecake, presented by Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, will have Blackstick performing this year, a six-piece band led by Lloyd Arntzen and his grandson Evan, both on clarinets and vocals. The two have played at the event before, two years ago they arrived with a number of other family members known as 3 Generations of Jazz, and blew the audience away with their incredible sound.
Local jazz legend Phil Dwyer had recommended the group and said at that time that a highlight was seeing Lloyd and Evan perform together and how their musical love for each other and traditional jazz shone through the music.
Although Evan moved to Brooklyn, New York in January, he is currently staying in Vancouver and The NEWS caught up with him by phone last week.
Evan said music has always been a mainstay in his life from the time his dad, Tom Arntzen, had him on stage singing with him at the age of three.
“The question growing up wasn’t whether you were going to play music but what instrument were you going to play,” he said.
He started on the piano at age five but the instrument he fell for was the clarinet at age seven, he said.
Evan, his brother and some cousins would head over to Grandpa Lloyd’s every Wednesday after school, which they dubbed “Grandpa day”. Lloyd would give each of the children lessons on their respective instruments and also teach them his favourite jazz songs like Canal Street Blues and Apex Blues. But they also did typical things at Grandpa’s house, like make things out of wood and watch Charlie Chaplin videos, Evan said.
By the time Evan was a senior in high school he was playing professional gigs around Vancouver, leading bands and acting as a side man.
He has won a variety of awards over the years including the Mayor of Vancouver’s Arts Award as an Emerging Artist in Music in 2010, the Kobe Award at the Breda Jazz Festival in the Netherlands in 2010, and the Grand Prix de Jazz at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival with the Amanda Tosoff Quartet.
Evan attended Capilano University’s Jazz program for around five years during which time he played with a number of groups, playing both modern and traditional jazz around the country. He also spent a bit of time in San Antonio where he played with the acclaimed Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
Another of Evan’s musical adventures includes playing in Michael Bublé’s orchestra for two of his Home for the Holidays TV specials in Vancouver. Bublé used to work with Evan’s dad Tom in the production of Red Rock Diner and Bublé remembered Evan.
“It was really neat to be a part of a huge TV production with mega stars,” he said, naming Rod Stewart and Mariah Carey among others.
Evan said he decided to move to New York because, besides being the jazz capital of the world, there is a very strong traditional jazz scene which is vibrant among musicians, dancers and patrons of jazz, he said.
“That’s really what I’ve been doing mostly for the last couple of years, getting more into traditional jazz and bringing that into the new millennium, making it a viable art form,” he said.
This will be Evan’s fourth time performing at Jazz, Tea and Cheesecake, having played previously with his family and ensembles led by Bria Skonberg and Amanda Tosoff.
Blackstick will be accompanied by Company B, a trio of women who have an Andrews Sisters’ style but a sound all their own, Evan said.
Company B will also have a six-piece band which has some crossover members in Blackstick (including Evan who will play clarinet for the girls.) Company B will open the show, followed by Blackstick and then the group will come together.
Evan said he’s excited to be returning to the unique event in Parksville set amongst a pasture with cows looking on.
“It’s just a beautiful spot and Ray (Haynes) and everyone at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, they are good people who really love music and that’s true of the whole community there, they really love live music and it’s wonderful to play for an audience like that.”
Jazz, Tea and Cheesecake will take place July 20 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 which includes the tea, cheesecake and wine tasting. Tickets are available from the Farmgate store at 403 Lowrys Rd. in Parksville, at Mulberry Bush Bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville and at the door. People are encouraged to bring lawn chair and sunhat. The event starts at 1:30 p.m.