For the past five years jazz violinist Kit Eakle has been celebrating the repertoires of two of his favourite composers, and this weekend he brings that program to Vancouver Island for the first time.
Eakle’s DjangoSphere project features pieces by guitarist Django Reinhardt and pianist Thelonious Monk, whose middle name was Sphere, as well as originals.
“I think people will find the music a real interesting mix of stuff that’s quite unusual and at the same time quite accessible,” said Eakle, who hails from San Fransisco but lived in B.C. for 26 years and splits his time between Vancouver and the Bay Area.
“And Monk and Django are two of the best, most wonderful composers in jazz so I’m proud to be putting those two together in a unique way that I don’t think anybody else has really thought of before.”
Eakle moved from California to the Port McNeill area in 1970, where he focused on music and formed the band Blackfish Sound. He later relocated to Vancouver to start the group Roadside Attraction before going back to school for his teaching credentials. In the 1980s he taught elementary school in Parksville-Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo. He then left the Island for a job supervising music for the Prince George school district.
Eakle returned to the U.S. in the late-’90 for a position with the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
On Sunday, Sept. 23 Eakle performs at the Lighthouse Bistro, backed by the local trio of guitarist Astrid Lyre, drummer James McRae and bassist Brock Meades.
“This is the first time I’m performing in Nanaimo since I moved years ago back to California,” he said.
Eakle said the violin is sometimes not thought of as a jazz instrument, or pigeonholed as belonging to Reinhardt’s “gypsy jazz.” That’s a view he hopes to dispel during the lectures he’s giving at Simon Fraser University.
“I’ve been somebody who’s been very interested in jazz all my life and violin was always kind of looked down on in regular jazz context…” he said. “Although, I’m teaching a history of jazz violin course, and I really believe that it was there right at the beginning.”
WHAT’S ON … Kit Eakle and the Astrid Lyre Trio perform at the Lighthouse Bistro on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, available at the venue, Fascinating Rhythm or online.