The Georgia Straight Jazz Society is on a roll this fall - the season’s opener was a highly successful tribute to Len Wilkie, followed a week later by the instrumental wizardry of the John Lee Trio. This Thursday, Sept. 25th, the Society is featuring a ten-piece band dedicated to the music of New Orleans and traditional jazz – Andrew Homzy’s N.O.L.A. NightHawks.
Ranging from the traditional jazz repertoire to contemporary and popular New Orleans styles, Homzy's NightHawks present familiar and new material in an exciting and fresh way through creative, interesting arrangements and a unique instrumentation of 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, clarinet, baritone sax and a 4-piece rhythm section.
For instance, Homzy's arrangement of Saint James Infirmary begins with a Bach Chorale and moves into a powerful lament which acknowledges the history of the song in the jazz context.
Popular and contemporary New Orleans pieces such as The Meter's "Cissy Strut" and Randy Newman songs are yanked-in to the jazz world, while a piece by Lillian Hardin Armstrong - yes, Louis' wife - is transformed into an engaging rhumba replete with collective improvisation. Classic jazz pieces associated with Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael sit alongside those of Wynton Marsalis and Thelonious Monk.
A Nanaimo citizen since 2009, Andrew Homzy was a moving force on the Montreal jazz scene for more than 40 years.The Andrew Homzy Jazz Orchestra was featured many times at the Montréal Jazz Festival and many of their concerts were broadcast over Radio-Canada. In 1999, Homzy was commissioned to direct a special concert/broadcast celebrating Duke Ellington's 100th birthday. The orchestra assembled for that event comprised musicians from 15 countries.
During a 1984 visit to New York, Homzy, who has studied the work of Charles Mingus for years, called Mingus’ widow, Sue, and asked if she had any copies of her late husband’s music around. A visit to her apartment revealed a treasure trove of musical exercises, sketches, themes and fragments of unfinished and unnamed pieces amongst the manuscripts.
While sorting through and cataloguing this mountain of material, Homzy stumbled up a complete melody with chord symbols and a few measures of counterpoint. He made copies and took them to Montreal, where they disappeared until his move to Nanaimo. Discovering the melody once more, Homzy managed, using music notation software, to piece the parts of music together, and made a digital recording of the melody for Sue, who named the piece Noonlight.
Homzy’s extensive knowledge of the works of Charles Mingus has garnered him a Grammy
Nomination for writing comprehensive notes in the book and co-producing the 6 CD set, Passions of a Man: The Complete Atlantic Recordings 1956-1961 performed by Charles Mingus.
Homzy and his NightHawks bring all the music associated with and inspired by New Orleans to one place - without the restriction of categories.
The NightHawks are:
Greg Bush, also originally from Montreal, and Dean Boland, formerly from Newfoundland and Labrador on trumpets; Darren Nilsson and Craig Burnett on trombones; Larry Miller, an active performer and teacher, on baritone sax; Conner Stewart on clarinet; Sean Robson on bass; Andrew Janusson on guitar; James McRae, another passionate music teacher, on drums; and finally Andrew Homzy on piano and arrangements.
To list the incredible mentors these musicians have had, and to list the fine jazz musicians they have played with, would fill pages. Suffice it to say, these band members have such a wealth of talent, experience, expertise and jazz passion that the evening will be nothing less than outstanding – something the Georgia Straight Jazz Society audiences have come to expect.
Treat yourself to an evening of fabulous music, great food, good company – and spirited drinks, all in the warm, club-like atmosphere of the Avalanche Bar and Grill on 8th in Courtenay. Cover charge is $10.00 for members and $12.00 for non-members. As these events are becoming more and more popular it is wise to come early if you wish a good seat. The music starts at 7:30.