Nanaimo keyboardist Marty Steele performs with his quintet and vocalist Dale Graham at the Shaw Auditorium on March 22 to kick of the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association’s Have You Heard? concert series. (Photo courtesy Peter Sinclair)

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association concert series returns

Have You Heard? series starts Friday with keyboardist Marty Steele at Shaw Auditorium

The Vancouver Island Conference Centre’s Shaw Auditorium is once again changing from city council chamber to music hall as the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association’s Have You Heard? concert series returns to the venue.

Starting on Friday, March 22 with the Marty Steele Quintet featuring vocalist Dale Graham, and wrapping up on June 28 with a “jazz surprise,” the NIJFA is presenting 10 Friday night concerts as part of the series, now in its second year.

Association president Andrew Homzy said the purpose of the series is to celebrate local and regional musicians and give them a place to play in a concert setting. This year’s series features two more shows than last year.

“We wanted to present what we thought were some of the best and some of the unique musicians that we have here,” Homzy said. “So it’s a wide variety of all kids of music, from traditional jazz to modern jazz, we have even some Cuban jazz coming in.”

Following Steele is the Astrid Lyre Trio on March 29, the Miguelito Valdes Latin Jazz Quintet on April 5, the Monik Nordine Quartet on April 12, John Lee’s Next Gen Jazz Sextet on April 26, Nick Lariviere on May 17, the Dave Stewart Sextet on May 31, Andrew Homzy’s NOLA Nighthawks on June 7, New York’s Joe Magnarelli Quintet on June 21 – Homzy noted the ‘I’ in NIJFA stands for ‘international,’ after all – and the mysterious Jazz Surprise concert concludes the series on June 28.

“We’re trying to build a home for jazz in Nanaimo,” Homzy said. “The mission of our organization is to help raise the cultural profile of Nanaimo and the way we’re doing that is through the three-day jazz fest in September, but we want to have events throughout the year and the Have You Heard? series is a step in that direction.”

WHAT’S ON … The Marty Steele Quintet and Dale Graham perform at the Shaw Auditorium on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 at the door, $15 for students with ID. Advance tickets are $23 for NIJFA members, $27.50 for non-members. $170 series subscription. Tickets available from the Port Theatre. More information about the Have You Heard? series at the NIJFA Facebook page.

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