Andrew Homzy, Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association president, was part of the parade procession that marched in downtown Nanaimo on Sept. 21. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Festival parade ‘jazzes’ up downtown Nanaimo

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival closes with Laila Biali Trio Sunday

The Nanaimo International Jazz Festival saw its parade process through the Old City Quarter and downtown core Saturday.

Featuring Natasha Hoskins’ Stompers, the procession made its way down Fitzwilliam Street, around Wesley Street, back onto and down Fitzwilliam, up and around Commercial Street and ending at Pioneer Plaza on Nanaimo’s waterfront.

The festival is in its third year and Andrew Homzy, jazz festival association president, talked to the News Bulletin about how it has evolved in that time.

RELATED: Jazz festival will bring new sounds to Nanaimo

“This is an unprecedented event in Nanaimo,” said Homzy. “We started off in 2017, which also marked the 100th birthday of the first jazz record ever made, and for that event we brought in local musicians from all over Vancouver Island, a lot from Nanaimo. We brought in a headliner band from New Orleans and we focused on that theme.

“Our second year, we brought in the Charles Mingus Dynasty, [he’s] one of the great jazz composers and we had a whole new lineup of local musicians. This year we continue in that tradition and we’re just babies, but we just started this tradition of having these festivals.”

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This year, the headliner is Ernie Watts, who performs at the Port Theatre tonight, beginning at 7:30 p.m. and is a phenomenal saxophone player, according to Homzy.

“He’s played with Frank Zappa and the Rolling Stones, but he’s a jazz musician through and through and we’re closing this year’s [festival] with Laila Biali, a wonderful pianist/singer who is bringing Phil Dwyer in as a guest soloist on tenor saxophone, so it’s grown over the years,” said Homzy.

For more information, go to www.nanaimojazzfest.ca



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