Surrey youth concert showcases big band sound

Semihamoo Grade 12 trumpet player Alex Webb plays during the Envision Jazz Festival Saturday in Surrey. - Boaz Joseph photo
Semihamoo Grade 12 trumpet player Alex Webb plays during the Envision Jazz Festival Saturday in Surrey.
— image credit: Boaz Joseph photo

Jazz fans have an unmatched opportunity to hear exciting contemporary big band sounds live March 2, 7:30 p.m., as the award-winning Semiahmoo Secondary Jazz Band 12 swings into the Coast Capital Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd.

For local supporters of the arts and budding talents, it's a feel-good event on two levels. Ticket buyers will not only be helping to send the band to this year's Las Vegas Invitational Jazz Festival, they'll also have an up-close opportunity to experience the energy and enthusiasm of an outstanding youth ensemble.

"Semiahmoo Secondary has a long and proud tradition of excellence in jazz education that extends back over 20 years," said band director Dave Fullerton.

"Graduates of this nationally-recognized program go on to gain acceptance to the continent's top jazz institutions and proceed to successful professional careers all over the world."

The current Grade 12 group boasts numerous standout soloists, but also a rich ensemble sound, a powerful drive and the solid musicianship to nail arrangements that listeners at the recent Southend Summit band showcase – including professional trumpet player/bandleader Malcolm Aiken –  agreed are at a senior college level or beyond.

Indeed, hearing the band tackle Gordon Goodwin's cartoon soundtrack-inspired Hunting Wabbits, or a haunting big band score of Radiohead's Everything In Its Right Place – both of which promise to be highlights of the upcoming concert – it's easy to forget that these professional-sounding players are still high school musicians.

Representing the professional world's interest in these rising stars will be the special guest artist for the concert, multiple Juno award-winning saxophonist Campbell Ryga.

"Campbell is a world-class jazz artist and the band is thrilled to be able to back him up in concert," said Fullerton, adding these selections include the poignant ballad A Flower is A Lovesome Thing, and an arrangement of Victor Young's immortal 1940s standard Stella By Starlight.

Lovers of the more traditional side of the big band repertoire will also enjoy the band's versions of Here's That Rainy Day and Duke Ellington's iconic 1932 classic It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing).

Standards will also provide showcases for the vocal side of two of the band's multitalented performers, trombonist Chloe Wright (who will sing Hoagy Carmichael's Georgia On My Mind) and guitarist Trevor Peverley (who will perform Rodgers and Hart's The Lady Is A Tramp).

As MusicFest Canada is in Ottawa this year – a prohibitively expensive trip for the student musicians –  the band has opted, instead, to travel to the Las Vegas School of the Performing Arts for the annual invitational jazz festival.

But the event is not simply a consolation prize for the ambitious group, Fullerton said.

"It boasts a very impressive list of guest artists, clinicians and adjudicators," he noted.

Tickets ($20) can be purchased online or by calling the Coast Capital box office at 604-536-7535.


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