Jazz/boogie pianist Dominik Heins is set to showcase his musical talents – with a number of local guest performers – at Blue Frog Studio on June 7.

Jazz pianist centre stage for retro-themed concert

Dominik Heins performing June 7 with bevy of guest artists

One of the hottest trends in music right now is revisiting the authentic retro-roots sounds of the early 20th century.

As further confirmation of that fact, tickets are already selling well for the upcoming concert by virtuoso piano wizard/crooner Dominik Heins, who brings his trio and his dynamic, irresistible blend of boogie woogie, stride, jazz, blues and vintage popular songs (Route 66, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen) to the stage of White Rock’s Blue Frog Studios (1328 Johnston Rd.), at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 7.

The first local concert by the South Surrey-based musician (often seen less formally in frequent appearances at Slainte By The Pier and at the White Rock Farmers Market) it will also feature the talents of two top sidemen, acoustic bassist Sam Shoichet and drummer Alex Klassen, and several special guests, including well-known New Orleans-style jazz and blues fiddler Gary Comeau, and noted vocal divas Wendy Bollard and Laine Henderson.

The Hamburg-born Heins, whose stylish suits and two-tone shoes mirror the elegance of the old-time piano ‘professors’ he admires, said he’s really looking forward to working in the kind of intimate environment that suits his style of high-energy music.

“A concert setting is where I really feel at home,” he said. “While I’m used to hotel piano playing, and the Slainte experience, too, having a concert is a chance to have the audience listening to you on purpose, rather than hearing you by accident.”

While he has a wide background of playing concerts in Europe (as part of the strong German-based boogie-woogie revival initiated by players like Axel Zwingenberger), he’s also looking forward to presenting the music in an English speaking venue, rather than doing introductions in German and then singing in English.

“It feels more original – all in one language, like it should be.”

Joining him in the first set will be Bollard and Comeau, whose fiddling will add an appropriately mournful note to Heins’ arrangement of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and the original German version of the celebrated Brecht-Weill piece Mack The Knife (Mackie Messer).

“His fiddle sound is perfect,” said Heins.

He’s also looking forward to sharing the stage with singers Bollard and Henderson, equally well-known to local audiences for their theatre work (most recently in Agnes of God, which Bollard directed for Peninsula Productions, and in which Henderson played the role of psychiatrist Dr. Livingstone).

Heins, a recent arrival to the Semiahmoo Peninsula, first encountered Bollard as a theatre person and credits her with the idea of doing a concert at Blue Frog. His first chance to work with her musically quickly opened his eyes to her musical abilities, he said, which have been honed in performances on the CBC and with veteran bandleader Dal Richards.

“She is one hell of a singer,” he said.

He is also unstinting in his praise for Henderson, who has credits in the touring version of Riverdance and in appearances in New York’s top jazz clubs (following studies at the Berklee College of Music).

Heins said it was almost inevitable that she and he would team musically.

“We quickly went from let’s try a song together to let’s do a show together,” he said.

The second half of the concert, focusing more on music of the 1920s era, offers a little preview of a musical they are developing, Side By Side, which blends classic old songs with dialogue.

Heins is no stranger to the stage, as it turns out.

“I’ve done a kind of theatre – for 10 years I toured with a cabaret show in Germany,” he said.

It gave him a chance to do a lot of walk-on roles, he said, even though he doesn’t consider himself an actor.

“Being on stage, you’re the centre of attention, but it’s not really acting. It’s more to do with the chatter in between songs.”

Tickets to the concert ($28, in advance only) can be bought online at bluefrogstudios.ca/newshows.html

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