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All-star homage concert planned for Nanaimo’s International Jazz Festival

Music mentor Bryan Stovell will be celebrated at the Port Theatre on Sept. 16
Connor Stewart, left, and his ensemble will open a special homage presentation to Bryan Stovell at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 16. (Submitted photos)

The Nanaimo International Jazz Festival will pay tribute to one of the city’s most beloved and influential music mentors this weekend.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, an all-star concert and homage to Bryan Stovell will be staged at the Port Theatre and will feature the New Orleans sounds of the Connor Stewart Sextet, the award-winning Wellington Jazz Band, and surprise guest.

Joëlle Rabu, one of the festival’s co-ordinators, said Stovell is a musician who has lived far more than just music.

“I asked him what his earliest recollection of music impacting him was,” she said. “Music for him growing up was a salve, because he was born during the bombings – a 1940s kid.”

While there is a video presentation planned for the event, Rabu said it would be impossible to detail all of Stovell’s life, but did say there will be anecdotal stories and surprises appearances.

Opening for the concert will be the Connor Stewart Sextet, which Stewart said will feature all of his own original music.

“Like many of the other musicians from Nanaimo, I’ve been really grateful to have been in the presence of Bryan and have part of my musical journey brought up by him,” he said, adding that he’s played in many of Stovell’s ensembles with the Nanaimo Musicians’ Association. “He’s been extremely helpful to me with his generous knowledge and support.”

The guest of honour will also be “put to work” for the finale as he conducts the NMA Big Band, now celebrating its 56th year, featuring a repertoire of classic jazz, swing, Latin, fusion, New Orleans sounds.

Tickets for the all-star concert can be purchased online at The Nanaimo International Jazz Festival runs all weekend long, from Sept. 15-17, at multiple venues in the downtown core. The schedule and list of musical acts can be found at

READ MORE: Nanaimo International Jazz Festival will celebrate community and mentors

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