Skip to content

Jazz Fest packs fans into Pender Harbour

There are not too many events at which a music fan can enjoy, for example, three different bass players performing, all in one day, each with their own style. Except, of course, at the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, now in its ninth year.

There are not too many events at which a music fan can enjoy, for example, three different bass players performing, all in one day, each with their own style. Except, of course, at the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, now in its ninth year.The festival opened on Friday, Sept. 16, under cloudy skies that did not deter the 75-plus people who sat in front of Oak Tree Market in Madeira Park to watch the Canadian Cockney, Gibsons Harry Busby, lead his quartet in an energetic set. Each of the musicians has years of experience: Joe Hatherill on sax also plays with Busby in the Big Band, John Rule on drums also plays with the Colorifics, and Paul Steenhuis on bass is also a Big Band regular. Busby has a great stage presence and a knack for informal repartee that makes his act entertaining.At dinner time, the Anna Lyman Trio presented a smooth set, their first of the weekend, at the Pender Harbour Golf Club restaurant. Dressed in a low cut, little black dress, a gold thread scarf and heels, the petite singer exuded sophistication and made us think we should order champagne with our prime rib and honey chicken.Her sensual, melodious voice worked well with her bassist Ken Lister and pianist Brent Jarvis. Born of a Latin American father and a British mother, Lyman grew up in Detroit Ñ that's at least three musical influences. She speaks Spanish and is at her best on the Cuban/ Brazilian jazz numbers. She also does well with standards such as "The Man I Love" and an upbeat version of "Autumn Leaves." At the Music School, headliners Franois Bourassa Quintet warmed up in the dark depths of a stage hung with black curtains. Earlier that day, Bourassa, who has won an award for outstanding services in jazz education, had led a music clinic to show kids and a few adults some new moves. The Montreal group was polished and professional, with a tendency to feed off one another and an eclectic range of material. They opened with an original piece, "Shampoo," that highlighted their sax player Andr Leroux and then the percussionist Aboulaye, who offered a unique element. The group was, by turns, smooth, often innovative and tricky, sometimes cacophonous and always returning to solid ground. Bass player Guy Boisvert curled his lean body around his instrument with affection to deliver one of the more provocative bass solos of the festival.That same evening, a group from Denmark with an odd name, Cannibals Happy Jazz Band, was whooping it up at the Grasshopper Pub on the highway. During the introduction (for which we all applauded one more time for the jazz festival's local sponsors, Target Marine and the Sunshine Coast Credit Union, plus a special applause for all the local small businesses who participate), we learned that the band was the first international band to appear at the festival. Think about it, a band from Denmark that had performed all over Europe playing New Orleans jazz and singing, in English, a jazz version of "White Cliffs of Dover." Is that cosmopolitan or what? They were loud, brassy and definitely danceable.Meanwhile, at the Sundowner Inn, the Coast's Luci Herder and Blaine Dunaway were filling the house with their tunes, while Sue Leonard and Bill Sample with saxophonist Tom Colclough were shaking it up at Irvines Landing Pub.Friday night showed many full houses but was not as well attended in some venues, according to chairman and head volunteer Monty Rolston. However, Saturday was so busy that long-time Coast residents said that they had never, in all their days, seen so many people pack into Madeira Park. Traditionally, over 50 per cent of the audience comes from off Coast. Why does the festival work so well? Rolston is quick to answer. Of course, there's the setting with its gorgeous scenery, there are 21 free events out of 27, they pick the best talent available from on and off the Coast and they offer intimate venues, not arenas."I hate to brag, but," says Rolston, "many people have commented on how good the organization of the festival is and how good the volunteers are."A committee of eight runs the show and works with 80 plus volunteers. Planning for next year's festival is already underway.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks