Lensmen returning to Thursday night jazz

This week’s Thursday evening concert at the Elks Club features the Lensmen.

Their performance will be an opportunity to hear some very invigorating and authentic Dixieland and '40s music. The music starts at 7:30.

The Lensmen collectively bring a lot of years of experience to recreate music that has been around a long time. The group’s repertoire reaches back to just about the turn of the century, 1900 that is, and through the '40s.

They have also been known to play a little jazz beyond the Big Band era with Len Wilkie crooning a la Frank Sinatra.

Some of the oldies but goodies that will be on the program are When You're Smilin,’ I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Bourbon Street Parade, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, Everybody Loves My Baby, South Of The Border, 'Deed I Do and They Can’t Take That Away From Me.

The Lensmen are Len Wilkie – drums and vocals, Mike Eddy - piano, Al West – bass and vocals and Greg Sumner – cornet, banjo and vocals.

Sumner has travelled the globe playing and singing and we are pleased that this great talent is being shared with the Comox Valley. He has appeared as a headliner at banjo conventions in Seattle, San Jose, and at Australian jazz conventions in Hobart, Adelaide and Geelong. Do you get the impression he loves the banjo?

Greg is the founder of the Cure All Jazz Band and is an encyclopedia of performance knowledge about the traditional style of jazz starting from the 1920s.

His brief flirtation with fame came in the late 1960s as electric bass player and banjoist with the New Vaudeville Band, which recorded Winchester Cathedral. He introduced the tune to audiences by saying, "...and now a medley of our hit..."

West is an extremely busy bass player in the valley. You will hear him everywhere from pit orchestras at the Sid Williams, and concert band at the Filberg to the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra at the Old Church Theatre. He has played every kind of music - jazz / folk / fiddle / rock / classical etc…. and since coming to the Valley has been good enough to share his great talent with a multitude of groups.

Eddy will bring piano interpretations to the group that span a wide diversity of styles. Raised in the dance band tradition, Mike has played in every kind of band possible including playing bass in Dixieland and big band groups, and keyboard in rock and jazz groups. During has career as a music teacher Mike was also able to fit in directing over 40 musicals.

Wilkie (the Len in the Lensmen) learned his trade with big band and small jazz groups in Europe. On returning to Canada he was the drummer with the Commodores big band as well as backing some rock and roll groups.

He toured with the Canadair Variety Stage Band (out of Montreal) throughout the East Coast. Moving west, he was the drummer/vocalist with the Dixie Stompers/Desperation Jazz Band for 22 years while playing with country and pop groups.

Today, he brings his smooth vocals and impeccable swing feel to round out the group.

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Tickets will be available for the Jenn Hodge All Stars event on February 10. Sales have been brisk, so don’t be disappointed by leaving it too late.

If you cannot make it to Thursday Night Jazz, tickets are also available at Bop City in Courtenay and Red Carpet on Anderton Road in Comox at regular prices.

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Watch for details in the next couple of weeks about a special Valentine’s Day fundraiser Love That Jazz! This will be the Thursday night spectacular of the season, featuring a terrific lineup of our top performers, complete with chocolate desserts, door prizes and other surprises.

For more information about the Georgia Straight Jazz Society and other forthcoming events, see it on Facebook, or visit www.georgiastriaghtjazz.com.

— Georgia Straight Jazz Society

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