Vancouver guitarist Bill Coon performs at the Lighthouse Bistro on Sunday, July 8. It’s his first Nanaimo show since February. (Photo courtesy Vincent Lim)

Vancouver guitarist Bill Coon brings new quartet to Nanaimo’s Lighthouse Bistro

Coon recently finished a series of concerts at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival

It’s the final days of the 2018 Vancouver International Jazz festival and Bill Coon hopes it doesn’t rain as he gets ready for an outdoor performance in a new plaza near city hall.

The Vancouver-based guitarist has been playing at the festival since he moved to the city more than 20 years ago. This year’s event saw Coon playing conventional jazz as well as shows with a Chinese-jazz fusion group and string-jazz octet.

“It’s a mixture of being a side person in other people’s groups or presenting my own music in my own group,” he explained.

Now with the jazz festival behind him, Coon is coming to Vancouver Island to be a side person in his own group.

Coon is performing at the Lighthouse Bistro on July 8 with a newish combo featuring saxophonist Roy Styffe and a Juno-winning rhythm section of Ken Lister and Buff Allen on bass and drums, respectively. It’s Coon’s first Nanaimo show since performing with vocalist Sienna Dahlen in February. He said the concert will include a mixture of classic standards and his original compositions.

“I think what’s maybe different or unusual about this group is that I wouldn’t say there’s a real leader in the group,” Coon said.

“There seems to be a connection between the people in the group. We have similar interests as well, not just music.”

He said it’s not essential to have off-stage familiarity and commonalities with accompanists, but those bonds can strengthen a performance.

“I’ve done lots of concerts in situations where I don’t know the person that well, I’ve maybe just met them or know them peripherally, and the music can still be very good,” Coon said.

“But I still feel like the music can get to a deeper place when you know the people on the bandstand and when you have some history with them and there’s something extra-musical going on there beyond just your life on the bandstand.”

WHAT’S ON … Guitarist Bill Coon performs with saxophonist Roy Styffe, bassist Ken Lister and drummer Buff Allen at the Lighthouse Bistro on Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $15 for students.

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