One of Qualicum Beach’s home grown talents is back in the area for a launch of her new album during a concert this Sunday.
Saxophonist Becky Noble was the grand prize winner of the 2012 Concours de la Relève, a talent contest which is part of the Jazz en Rafale festival in Montreal, and she’s also been recognized by the Canadian National Jazz Awards as a Galaxie Rising Star, among other distinctions.
She’ll be playing on Jan. 26 at The Old School House’s (TOSH) Music on Sunday concert series with her Becky Noble Quintet, which involves a lineup of celebrated West Coast musicians including Phil Dwyer.
Noble graduated from Kwalikum Secondary School in 1999 and went on to study music at McGill University, completing her undergraduate degree in music 10 years ago.
From there, she completed a summer residency program at the Banff Centre for the Arts before returning to Montreal to study medicine. During the next five years, her music took the back-burner as she worked on her studies. Before taking the next step toward a medical degree, she thought it was time to take a trip overseas.
“I decided that before I could move forward down this path, I needed to get some perspective outside of the academic bubble, which was starting to feel insular and stifling,” she said.
She sold her saxophone and spent eight months in Central and South America, and Africa.
The trip was a huge eye opener, she said, and made her realize how important her music was.
“Somewhere between training as a field guide in Kruger Park, South Africa and visiting the genocide memorials in Rwanda, the creative void in my life, at that point going on 5 years, hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I needed to go home, start playing and composing again.”
Her plans for medical school evaporated and she moved back to Montreal and bought an old saxophone from a friend. On a whim, she decided to enter a local contest put on by a major Quebec label. It was the new talent contest portion of the Jazz en Rafale festival.
She said she had no expectations going into the contest, but it seemed like a good opportunity to put together a group and have her music performed in public. She quickly moved up the rankings and for the final competition she opened for an established artist at the festival and was judged by a panel of local professionals. Her first place win secured her studio time and post production support to produce and license an album. She was also invited to perform at the Montreal International Jazz Festival last summer.
The album she produced, called Salish Folk Song, was recently selected by the Ottawa Citizen in the top 10 Canadian Jazz Albums of 2013. It includes some original compositions which she wrote while she was a student, traveling and last summer.
While composing the title track for the album, Noble found herself missing the West Coast terribly, she said. This past summer she decided to move to Vancouver where she is currently living, and now she is launching her West Coast release in Qualicum Beach on Sunday.
The show will feature two of Vancouver’s best young players, Noble said, Tristan Paxton and Omar Amlani as well as veteran musicians Phil Dwyer and Ken Lister. KSS grad Kyla Campbell, also a McGill grad, will be singing with the group for a number.
The Becky Noble Quintet will perform from 2:30 to 4:30 on Jan. 26 Admission is $16. For more information on Noble visit her website www.beckynoble.com. For more on TOSH visit www.theoldschoolhouse.org or call 250-752-6133.