Mix great jazz of all styles with small venues on the Sunshine Coast of B.C. and you have the phenomenon that is the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival. First established in 1966 by the local Music Society, the Festival is now an annual destination event for a crowd of jazz lovers from across the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
The first Festival was in 1996, produced by the Pender Harbour Music Society to provide world class music for the locals, and create a destination event for tourists. It has now blossomed into one of the best jazz Festivals in Canada.
First of all, as many styles as possible are offered each year, so audiences are exposed to 40’s swing, Gypsy, fusion, straight up, Dixieland, Afro Cuban and more. Wherever your musical heart lay before you came, it is bound to find something new to love. Next, most of the events are free. Seriously. This year, there are 30 performances, and only 4 are ticketed. A free jazz clinic is available to students of all ages on Friday afternoon.
Groups play all around Pender Harbour, in tiny villages and corners (too small to be called villages) smack dab on the ocean. At an alfresco performance, fish boats launch, birds wheel, and the smell of seaweed fills the air. A local water taxi plies the Harbour, dropping off folks at venues. To attend this Festival is to immerse yourself in Harbour life.
The ambience is rural big family. Saturday and Sunday mornings, the Community Hall in Madeira Park opens at 8 am to a pancake breakfast, served up by local members of the Chamber of Commerce, and everyone, locals, Festival attendees, and musicians, eats together. Music starts up just outside before the last pancakes are flipped.
The venues are so small, the concert hall seats 100 people. It doesn’t get more intimate than that. Groups play on the decks of Resorts, in the ball park at the Elementary School, in Marinas, local pubs and halls. Musicians are found jamming all over the Harbour all weekend, as they meet old and new friends. Which is probably why the word has spread in the Jazz World that this is a great gig. Submissions now come from as far as Paris and Milan from world class performers who have heard of the fabulous groove to be found here.
The 14th Annual Pender Harbour Jazz Festival September 17-19, 2010 is headlined Friday night by renowned vocalist, Dee Daniels. Dee sang gospel in her stepfather’s church choir in Oakland California, then travelled to Europe in the ‘80’s where she was lucky to have performed with Sarah Vaughn. A vocalist of extraordinary range and expression, Miss Daniels is also known for her social conscience. In November 2009, Miss Daniels performed a concert of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music in a benefit for the people of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
The headliner Saturday is a young up and coming sax player from NYC, Dmitry Baevsky. He just signed with Step Nine records, and his cd should be out by the time he reaches the stage in Madeira Park. Sweet sound, beautiful phrasing, this is straight ahead jazz at its best.
Others in the ’10 line-up include a Big Band from Cuba, Wil Campa y su Gran Union, all youth and verve, Nancy Ruth, Astrid Sars, Zapato Negro, Swing Patrol, Doc Fingers, and many yet to be announced.
Bring a blanket, umbrella, sun hat and your walking shoes and get yourself to one of the best jazz festivals in Canada: Pender Harbour’s 14th Annual Jazz Festival, September 17,18,19, 2010. And check out their website immediately, if not sooner. Tickets for the few events that have them will sell out in a flash.
This post is sponsored by Sunshine Coast Resort and Painted Boat Resort, of Pender Harbour. Villas, chalets, hotel rooms, penthouse, marinas. Everything you need to enjoy the Jazz Festival this September. Contact now to ensure your accommodation is booked!