Salmon Arm is home to a thriving jazz music scene – Salmon Arm Observer
While the typical jazz music venue in most cities is a hotel lounge or nightclub, in Salmon Arm, jazz fans flock to the Nexus of the First United Church, which has become a venue for music enjoyed by 325 seats for the community. We can all thank the Salmon Arm Jazz Club for their dedication to welcoming talented players from the community as well as from across Canada.
There has long been a vibrant music scene in the Shuswap, but it wasn’t until three young local musicians, Jacob Verburg, Darrin Herting and Leon Power started hosting weekly jams on Thursdays at the Salmon Public Art Gallery. Arm Arts Center in 2009 as jazz began to form part of the scene. The first year there was a variety of musical themes and actors, always with a vigorous dose of improvisation.
In 2010, when Jacob decided to take a break from hosting shows, high school music teachers Sandy Cameron and Brian Pratt-Johnson, both highly regarded and highly skilled players, took matters into their own hands and l he focus turned to jazz. To ease the burden, the schedule was changed to twice a month and gradually more and more musicians came from Vernon, Kamloops and Kelowna to participate in the programs.
During the formation of the Jazz Club, decisions were made to ensure that admissions would be by donation and to avoid the bureaucracy of a registered company by keeping the administration of the club ad hoc.
At the same time, they decided to make sure that all performers are paid fairly based on the distance traveled. Their organizational structure worked so well that in two years there was not enough room in the art gallery for the size of the audience, and the place was moved to the old Shuswap Chefs restaurant for two years until ‘when it is closed.
One can’t help but feel a sense of gleeful pride when Margaret Gallagher, host of CBC’s Hot Air jazz show, lists cities where a star band performs on tour and where Salmon Arm is included. As Sandy Cameron explained, it was the touring band members who discovered our jazz club and applied to play here, which makes sense given that Salmon Arm is halfway between Calgary and Vancouver. .
In 2016, First United Church, which had in the past been the scene of concerts and music festivals, decided to create a unique place for the community called “The Nexus at First” to create an additional source of income as well as to increase the use of their facility. This suited the Jazz Club perfectly and, as longtime volunteer Stan Zobac explained, the church âgoes out of their wayâ to offer warm and generous support.
When Sandy left the community to live in Victoria for a few years, talented guitarist Jordan Dick took over as manager and continues in that role today. Audience size is usually between 75 and 125, but often the crowds are larger when the club is hosting a touring group. Favorite musicians include bassist Bernie Addington of Kelowna and Vancouver, guitarist Bill Coon and saxophonist Cory Weeds, who also conducted the famous Jazz Cellar.
According to Sandy, there are about 50 jazz musicians in the Shuswap, and many shows feature a group of them in a quartet or more. Typically, the group only needs one rehearsal to review selections and arrangements. What makes jazz so enjoyable for aficionados is the improvisation, which usually occurs during the solos of each of the musicians.
One of the highlights of the season is the annual Christmas show and this year was no exception with a full house filling the auditorium. For most of the program, it only felt like it was vacation music for the first few minutes of each song, as the arrangements were fluid and creative, with plenty of solos and vocals from Andrea Roberts and of his son Jonas causing a feeling of joy that matches the season.
The January lineup is impressive. On January 10, the show featured a sextet conducted by Revelstoke trombonist Bob Rogers, and on January 24, the program will present âSoul Station – The Music of Hank Mobleyâ with an Okanagan quartet that includes Bernie Addington (in learn more about jazzsalmonarm .com). Either you come or you are worth nothing!