Georgia Strait maintains local big band tradition

The stage at the Avalanche will be full Thursday when the Georgia Strait Big Band plays its big sound. - Photo by Peter Sinclair
The stage at the Avalanche will be full Thursday when the Georgia Strait Big Band plays its big sound.
— image credit: Photo by Peter Sinclair

After two weeks with no jazz, the Georgia Straight Jazz Society is making it up to jazz fans by presenting the Valley's own big band.

The Georgia Strait Big Band is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform this Thursday evening (Feb. 27) at The Avalanche.

You can look forward to a highly entertaining evening of great music made famous by The Count, The Duke, and Gillespie and beyond.   The music starts at 7:30 but it's a good idea to arrive a bit early, as the band has a loyal following.

Over the years, the band has been a strong supporter of the Georgia Strait Jazz Society and has an impressive history of attracting talented musicians. Many developing young musicians have joined the band while in high school, moving on to pursue music at the post-secondary level. This is a legacy the Georgia Strait Big Band is justifiably proud of.

The band has showcased some of the Valley's finest singers who captivate audiences with their own unique vocal styles. This Thursday, Tonja Maslin is featured as a special guest vocalist.  Tonja will treat the audience to a number of great jazz standards.

The tradition of big band music in the Comox Valley dates back over 60 years, when folks danced the night away at the Native Sons Hall on Saturday nights.

For the past six years, the Georgia Strait Big Band has been under the expert leadership of Gregory Bush, Professor of Jazz at Vancouver Island University. Greg has demonstrated an incredible commitment by driving every Monday night from his home in Nanaimo, to instruct the band.

Originally from Montreal, Greg earned his bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University and a Masters of Music in Jazz Performance from McGill University. He has served on the music faculties of McMaster University and Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont.; and Red Deer College in Alberta.

His first CD, Cause and Effect, with The Greg Bush Quintet, featured original compositions and garnered international acclaim. Greg's passion and love for jazz is shared by all the members of the band.

If you love swing music and big band jazz, and appreciate great love songs, plan on joining the friendly crowd that gathers at the Avalanche Bar on Thursday night. Good music, good company in a jazz club atmosphere, and good food available if that's your choice.

It takes a huge commitment of time, energy, as well as money, to put a big band on the stage. To honour the commitment made by the  band members, the jazz society will charge a $10 cover for this event.

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Tickets are on sale at the club, or Bop City and Red Carpet for the next Sunday concert on March 2, when the Vancouver-based NightCrawlers will perform. With a mix of jazz, soul and rock and roll, this band appeals to a wide audience, so get your tickets early. For information about the jazz society, visit www.georgiastraightjazz.com or Facebook.

— Georgia Straight Jazz Society

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