Vancouver-raised jazz vocalist Laila Biali is closing out this year’s Nanaimo International Jazz Festival. (Photo courtesy Rockie Nolan)

Jazz festival will bring new sounds to downtown Nanaimo

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival takes place Sept. 20-22

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association president Andrew Homzy said every time one listens to jazz, it’s a brand new experience.

“Jazz is always new because of improvisation,” he said. “So even if you were to hear the same group play the same pieces, it would always be different. The same with our festival.”

From Sept. 20 to 22, the NIJF returns to downtown Nanaimo for its third year with three days of concerts, a downtown parade and 10 of the festival’s 14 events are free of charge.

This year’s headliner is American saxophonist Ernie Watts, a two-time Grammy Award winner who toured with the Rolling Stones and played in the Tonight Show Band. Watts is also leading a workshop for jazz students hoping to pick up tips and learn from his experiences.

“I hesitate to use the word ‘elder statesman,’ but he certainly is a statesman and he has respect throughout the community in terms of his work as an improviser and as a saxophonist and just as a great person,” Homzy said.

Closing out this year’s festival is Vancouver-raised vocalist Laila Biali, whose seventh album, Laila Biali, beat out Nanaimo’s own Diana Krall for the 2019 Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.

Biali said she named the record after herself because “it really felt like it brought a lot of different, seemingly disparate threads of my musical persona and forms of expression together.” She’s already months into the making of her next album, Out of Dust, which she hopes to release early next year. She said there’s a little more scrutiny when it comes to a post-Juno CD.

“You get your first Juno and it’s kind of a blessing and curse,” she said. “Because on the one hand it’s an amazing nod from the industry, but on the other hand there’s a little bit of pressure for the release that follows that win.”

At her festival-closing performance at the Port Theatre on Sept. 22 Biali will be accompanied by mid-Island saxophonist Phil Dwyer, a past collaborator with a pair of Junos of his own. They recently played together when Dwyer “spontaneously” joined Biali onstage during Victoria JazzFest in June.

“That sort of whet my appetite and when we were invited to come perform in Nanaimo I thought I’d be a fool not to ask him to come join us officially,” Biali said.

She said the show will draw from her last album and feature tunes from the Great Canadian Songbook as well as “a couple of surprises.”

Biali last performed in Nanaimo late 2017 and this is her first time at the NIJF. She said it’s encouraging to see smaller cities hosting jazz festivals.

“I think it speaks to the fact that jazz is alive and thriving,” Biali said. “And while I do think that people assume that jazz audiences are traditionally a little bit older, I actually think we’re seeing a resurgence in young people supporting jazz.”

Homzy agrees that despite preconceptions, jazz is an inclusive genre of music.

“Jazz is not elitist music. It’s for everybody and it’s accessible, but jazz can also be challenging, too,” he said. “And it’s that balance between musically being something that’s comfortable and something that offers a bit of challenge and that’s what art is about.”

WHAT’S ON … The third annual Nanaimo International Jazz Festival takes place in downtown venues from Sept. 20 to 22. Click here for full a schedule and ticket information.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Fire official deems morning fire at Nanaimo school suspicious

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes fire at portable at École Océane

Nanaimo hotel tax set to go up

Hospitality association lays out five-year plan for tourism in Nanaimo

Tour de Rock ready to start making its way down Vancouver Island

Tour de Rock takes place Sept. 21 to Oct. 4

Public meeting will explore ideas to battle addiction and crime in Nanaimo

Organizers call for treatment centres, accountability for crimes, citizens’ task force

VIU students empowered to ‘shift the vote’ this election

VIU Students’ Union, B.C. Federation of Students launch ‘Our Time is Now’ campaign

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 19

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Nanaimo athletes earn gold, silver, bronze at 55-Plus B.C. Games

Huge contingent of local participants competed in largest-ever 55-Plus B.C. Games in Kelowna

Nanaimo beekeepers take down nest of giant hornets

One nest eradicated at Robins Park, but there are still Asian giant hornets around

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Most Read