From talented up-and-coming high school bands to numerous professional musicians sharing local stages, there’s no question Nanaimo is a jazz city, says Andrew Homzy.
As the president of the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association and his team finalize the lineup for the third annual festival Sept. 20 to 22, he reflects on the genre’s local popularity: “Jazz is both artistic and fun. It really has a foot in both worlds of art and entertainment,” Homzy says.
With a mission to “raise the cultural profile of downtown Nanaimo and the Old City Quarter,” many festival events will be held near the Diana Krall Plaza, the only public plaza in the country named for a Canadian jazz musician, he notes. “So Nanaimo really is a jazz city.”
‘New York jazz at Nanaimo prices:’ The Joe Magnarelli Quintet features New York’s Magnarelli, with Ralph Moore, Anthony Wonsey, Dezron Douglas and George Fludas. Boasting 10 albums as a leader, including his latest, If You Could See Me Now, which graced the Jazz Week Charts for over 17 weeks, “Mags” is an adjunct professor of music at Juilliard School of Music and Rutgers University, and conducts master classes around the world.
‘My Kind of Jazz:’ David Vest may be a Maple Blues Award-winner now living in Canada, but he’s also an authentic, Southern-bred boogie-woogie piano player, blues shouter and world-class entertainer who’s always had an ear for jazz. Since opening for Roy Orbison and writing the first songs recorded by Tammy Wynette, he’s hit the Top 10 on Billboard’s national blues chart and earned accolades for his recent work with Cordova Bay Records, including his fifth Maple Blues Award for Piano Player of the Year for 2018’s David Vest.
Tickets for both shows are $23 for NIJFA members, $27.50 for non-members and $15 for students, available here or by calling 250-754-8550.
Sensational September jazz
The summer shows lead in to the third annual Nanaimo International Jazz Festival, Sept. 20 to 22, packed with 13 free and ticketed events, including outdoor concerts, student workshops, and the New Orleans second-line parade!
Festival headliners include American jazz and rhythm & blues saxophonist Ernie Watts, at the Port Theatre stage Sept. 21. A featured soloist on many of Marvin Gaye’s albums of the 1970s, he also played for 20 years with The Tonight Show Band under Doc Severinsen, and won two Grammy Awards.
Sept. 22 brings Juno Award-winning Canadian pianist Laila Biali, one of jazz’s brightest young stars now almost two decades into a successful career.
“The festival really is a gift to the city,” Homzy says, crediting the foresight of festival sponsors and supporters for allowing the festival to grow and thrive. “There’s just so much energy in the air.”
Learn more at nanaimojazzfest.ca and get your Festival pass today!