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More than a month of live jazz concerts planned in Nanaimo

Series of concerts at Shaw Auditorium starts Saturday, March 26
Jazz saxophonist Phil Dwyer will cap a month of jazz performances at the Shaw Auditorium throughout April for Nanaimo International Jazz Festival’s Live at the Shaw. (File photo) Jazz saxophonist Phil Dwyer will cap a month of jazz performances at the Shaw Auditorium throughout April for Nanaimo International Jazz Festival’s Live at the Shaw. (File photo)

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival is presenting Live at the Shaw every Saturday from March 26 to April 30.

The series promises a powerful opening night with Dry Goods – saxophonist and band leader Liam Murphy, drummer Adam Robertson and guitarist David Proctor – who describe themselves as a free-jazz noise rock trio from Nanaimo.

Dry Goods’ digital recordings online showcase an ever-evolving composition style that leads the listener through a surreal musical landscape ranging from subtle, often soothing, passages that can instantly burst into violent yet structured cacophonies, as if Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso were suddenly liberated of their paints, brushes and easels and handed musical instruments.

Act 2, Graham Villette’s Organized Crime, performs music inspired by some of history’s greatest jazz organists, such as Jemmy Smith, Larry Young and others.

Throughout April the series will bring local and imported talent, including 10-piece ensemble Decadence, with its rotating cast of Nanaimo’s top music professionals and Vancouver Island University alumni, the Jeff Agopsowicz Group, the Cole Porter Performers, Parksville pianist Dave Klinger, Nanaimo Musicians Association celebrating its 55th year, and band leader Marty Steele, renowned for his explosive bass-line-driven keyboard style. Steele will be joined by James McRae, Kenton Dyck and powerful, soulful vocalist Teighan Couch.

Pre-show talks will also focus on jazz in the 20th century and the music of some of history’s great jazz talents.

The final act, April 30, brings Dwyer back to the Nanaimo stage.

Dwyer, a professional musician for more than 50 years, has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada, cited for his “contributions to jazz as a performer, composer and producer and for increasing access to music education in his community.” He is an honorary fellow with the Royal Conservatory of Music and has appeared on 10 Juno Award-winning recordings.

Dwyer is also a practising lawyer with his own firm in Qualicum Beach, and works with family, estate and environmental law and is currently a member of the Law Society of B.C. mental health task force.

Listed among his many compositions is the Ballad of Bonnie Henry, written in 2020 and sung by Tina Jones to honour the work of Henry and other health practitioners early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s great to be a part of the series,” Dwyer said in an e-mail. “Much of my early training and development as a jazz musician took place in and around Nanaimo with teachers like Bryan Stovall, Steve Jones, Bill Cave, Ken Ryall, and Norm Porter coming to mind. I was also fortunate to learn alongside young musicians like Diana Krall, Ingrid and Christine Jensen, and Pat Collins, to name a few. This part of the world has a storied history with this music, and I’m certainly proud to have been associated with that over the years. Music and the arts are such an important part of our lives, even more so in times of tumult and uncertainty. To bring joy to people’s lives through music is a gift, and one that I cherish deeply. I look forward to seeing everyone on the 30th.”

WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo International Jazz Festival presents Live at the Shaw from March 26-April 30. Tickets $26, $10 for students, $100 for six concerts. For tickets, show dates and other information, visit

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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