• Sarah Kwok

WestCoast Big Band Festival - November 15-17


The WestCoast Big Band Festival, now in its fifth year, takes place from November 15-17. With a wide range of events, it has something for both audiences and musicians of all levels. Read on as Robyn Reekie talks more about the numerous events and the debut of Canada's first all-women professional jazz orchestra.


So, tell me about the festival The festival is a 3 day festival. It used to be a one day festival in Surrey but recently expanded to Croatian Cultural Centre. This festival features a variety of "Life Long Performers" who play in some of the MANY local big bands in metro Vancouver and the Island. Many of these performers play professionally, some are music educators and others have another career but what they all have is a love of music and pursuit to to share that love of music with others. Another important part of this festival is education. We host a variety of FREE clinics that anyone can partake in by some of the best jazz musicians in town. There will be a total of 8 clinics over the span of the festival. In addition, we are featuring local "rising stars" vocalist Pressley Murillo and trumpet player Hailey Dean, and featuring two high schools: the Semiahmoo Secondary Gr 12 band on Saturday morning and the Kwalicum Secondary Sr. Jazz Ensemble on the Sunday morning. 

Each night is a little something different. Friday November 15th is our swing night where things kick off with a swing lesson at 6pm and then guests can expect to be serenaded by FAT Jazz and Impressions...and to swing dance all night long! Saturday is our "groove" night featuring local favourite, Vancouver Groove Orchestra and the oh so funky Queer as Funk. Sunday is the world premiere of Sister Jazz Orchestra and we are bringing in New York drummer Sherrie Maricle for this performance.

So many exciting things!!!

Big Band often refers to just that - a big band - and the festival showcases a wide range of styles with this ensemble - can you talk more about the different genres that people can experience at the festival?

For sure. Most of what you are going to hear will be just that, Big Band but obviously with a little twist on things. Queer as Funk is obviously not a big band but fits well within our mission and you can expect to dance regardless of who is playing!


One thing that stood out to me are the very noble goals for the festival, can you elaborate on how the festival will increase appreciation for big band and live music, make this music accessible, and help to build community?  This festival really highlights that music is/can be a huge part of our lives at all stages and gives people an opportunity to experience true big band, in a live setting where they can dance big band like it is meant to be! In addition, we are providing opportunities for schools to perform and lots of educational moments.


Sherrie Maricle

What can attendees expect at the numerous educational events? 

We have a variety of instrumental clinics from trumpet by Malcolm Aiken, saxophone by James Danderfer, trombone by Jim Hopson, double bass by Jodi Proznick, to drum set with New York drummer Sherrie Maricle and THREE different levels of improvication clinics to hit learners needs wherever they are at by Brad Turner, Paul Rushka and James Danderfer. 


I'd also love to hear more about the finale concert and the debut of the Sister Jazz Orchestra , the first all-women professional jazz orchestra in Canada. Yes, pretty cool!!! 


Sister Jazz Orchestra is directed by Christian Morrison, and SJO is a unique-in-Canada professional jazz orchestra that brings together the most accomplished female jazz musicians in Vancouver. It's a straight-ahead jazz celebration that will entertain, move and enrich big band jazz audiences, with a primary focus on the treasure trove of stunning repertoire written by women over the past 9 decades.


For this premiere performance at the 2019 WestCoast Big Band Festival, SJO is thrilled to present as guest artist New York drummer Sherrie Maricle. I think it is going to be pretty incredible to witness so much talent in one room and will be a great moment to truly recognize our GREAT female talent in Vancouver. 

Personnel Ingrid Stitt, Julia Nolan (as), Karen Graves, Jen Davidson (ts), Jen Vance (bs), Robin MacLulich, Janine King, Hayley Bennett, Ellen Marple (tb), Jocelyn Waugh, Geeta Das, Heather Anderson, Melissa Hammer, Amber Tsang (tp), Jodi Proznick (b), Madeleine Elkins (g), Sharon Minemoto (p), Jamie Lee (per) Guest Artist: Sherrie Maricle (drums) Repertoire Selections to be chosen from:

The Rhythm Changes - Sherrie Maricle

Seafever - Christine Jensen

The Brush-Off - Kay, arr Leigh Pilzer

Happy Hoofer - Toshiko Akiyoshi

Amasi - Chris McGregor

Lonely Moments - Mary Lou Williams

Seesaw - Noriko Ueda

My Lament - Maria Schneider

Get Me to the Church - Loewe, arr Scott Whitfield

Monkeys in Withered Tree - Junko Moriya


Join in on all the fun at the The WestCoast Big Band Festival, which takes place from November 15-17 at the Croation Cultural Centre, with numerous events each day.


More information: https://www.westcoastbigbandfestival.com/

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