More sophisticated sound this year

The well-loved Jazz, Tea and Cheesecake event at Morningstar Farm will be a little different this year.

Melinda Whitaker is performing at Jazz

Melinda Whitaker is performing at Jazz

The eighth annual event takes place this Sunday, July 14, and although in previous years the music has been traditional and dixieland-style, this year people can expect a bit more of a sophisticated sound, said Ray Haynes at the farm.

“We’re probably getting into more seriously-arranged jazz music of a more modern sound,” he said, “thanks largely to the intricate and distinctive musical arrangements of local hero Phil Dwyer.”

The performer this year will be Canadian jazz singer Melinda Whitaker, with an all-star band including multi-juno award winning Phil Dwyer on piano.

Dwyer produced Whitaker’s latest album Lucky So-and-So, the title of this year’s show at Morningstar Farm.

Whitaker was born in Vancouver and grew up in a musical family.

She started performing early on in life and by the time she was a youth she was singing tirelessly with church and school choirs, ensembles and bands. Whitaker was well known in Vancouver’s jazz scene in the 70s performing six nights a week with The Vancouver ‘Sympathy’ Orchestra and she recorded for Holger Petersens’s Jazz Radio Canada in the famed Red Barrel Lounge in The Hotel Vancouver. She later sang commercial jingles for TV, radio and film.

In 1995 Whitaker began making trips to Costa Rica with her son and husband, the late jazz musician Gerry Caunter. There, she learned Spanish and began incorporating a Latin American sound into her music.

She has shared the stage with the likes of Bryan Adams, Andy Williams, Jose Feliciano, Peter Ustinov and Roger Whittaker. She now lives on Vancouver Island has performed with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and at Victoria’s JazzFest.

Besides Dwyer on piano, the other four musicians performing at the event are very accomplished and were hand-picked by Dwyer, Haynes said.

“These are some of the top side men in the business basically,” said Haynes. They are Ken Lister on bass, Hans Verhoeven on drums, Steve Kaldestad on saxophones and Phil Hamelin on trumpet.

And then of course there is the homemade cheesecake produced at the farm, which is home to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. The farm produces the fromage frais incorporated in the dessert, and then the bakers give it a sweet raspberry topping. The farm is also home to the MooBerry Winery, where a number of delightful fruit wines are hand-crafted, which will be given out in samples at the event. Coffee and tea will also be available.

Haynes said the setting with majestic mountains, local streams and cows out to pasture is also key to people’s enjoyment at the event.

“The secret charm of the whole thing is the setting,” he said. “And what we’re trying to do is create a little joy and a little healing power of mother nature and the forces beyond in a setting that gives a different sense of resonance and place.”

Tickets are $25 including the beverages and cheesecake, and the farm is extending a special welcome to young music enthusiasts this year, offering free entry to those 18 and under. Tickets are available from the Morningstar Farm’s Farmgate store, Mulberry Bush Bookstores, Cranky Dog Music and at the door.

People should bring a lawn chair and a hat, Haynes reminded, as there is limited seating, and come early for a good location.

The show starts at 1:30 at 403 Lowry’s Rd. in Parksville. For more information visit or call 250-954-3931.



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