Vancouver saxophonist Cory Weeds and New York trumpeter Benny Benack III (from left) will be performing with their bands as part of the Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society’s Welcome Back concert series. (Photos courtesy Randy Cole/Maria Traversa)

Vancouver saxophonist Cory Weeds and New York trumpeter Benny Benack III (from left) will be performing with their bands as part of the Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society’s Welcome Back concert series. (Photos courtesy Randy Cole/Maria Traversa)

Jazz concert series welcomes in-person music and mentorship to Nanaimo

Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society presents its ‘Welcome Back’ concert series

A new jazz concert series is offering in-person music for fans and in-person learning for students.

On Jan. 11 and Feb. 15 the Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society is presenting a pair of concerts as part of its Welcome Back concert series at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre’s Shaw Auditorium. The January show will feature Vancouver saxophonist Cory Weeds and his quartet along with New York trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and in February New York-based vocalist and trumpeter Benny Benack III and his quartet will perform.

Last year the society presented an online jazz series after being forced to cancel its annual Jazz Affair fundraiser due to COVID-19 restrictions. This is the group’s first time presenting music at the Shaw Auditorium.

“We’ve never hosted in there but we thought it was a nice, intimate venue,” society music coordinator Carmella Luvisotto said. “And we knew that we just wanted to start off small and then hopefully introduce more audience in May when we try to do our bigger [Jazz Affair] event.”

Society marketing and communication coordinator Marcus Morosan said the Welcome Back series is a continuation of last year’s concerts, but instead of prerecorded performances and virtual workshops, everything will happen in-person.

“We wanted to do something a little bit extra … and get back to a little bit of the normalcy,” he said.

Luvisotto said that while the online shows and workshops allowed for “amazing” access to musicians, “now that we’ve been virtual, and being in-person before, I really see the benefit of course of being in-person.”

“For students to be able to play live again and to see these musicians and interact with them and also be able to stand beside them and play … it’s just a different level of experience that you cannot have on Zoom,” she said. “So students that haven’t had the opportunity in the past are really looking forward to this.”

WHAT’S ON … The Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society presents the Cory Weeds Quartet with Joe Magnarelli at the Shaw Auditorium, 101 Gordon St., on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m., and the Benny Benack III Quartet at the Shaw Auditorium on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets for both shows $16.93 to $27.54, available here.

RELATED: Friends of Nanaimo Jazz Society present online ‘Jazz Affair’

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