North Shore Jazz kicks back into action

Q & A with series programmer Fiona Black

This year Capilano University’s director of programming, Fiona Black, is celebrating 20 years at the helm of the school’s two signature music series, Cap Jazz and Cap Global Roots.
For the past 17 years she has also produced and programmed North Shore Jazz, a satellite series presented in partnership with the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Black spoke to the North Shore News about what audiences can look forward to at this year’s festival.

NORTH SHORE NEWS: Eight shows in 10 days seems pretty intense with shows on almost every day. The first one is a free show at the West Van library with the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio.
FIONA BLACK: It’s going to be a funky show for a library. They’re new to me and they’re new to pretty much everybody in our part of the world. It’s going to be a debut for them in the Vancouver market. They are out of Seattle. They’ve just released their debut album which went to number one on the Billboard charts in the Contemporary Jazz category. They seem to be tearing up the scene in Seattle and getting really popular fast and no wonder I listened to them for about three minutes and I’m like ‘Who are these guys? They sound great!’ I listened to some of their KEXP live show and they sound like they’ve been playing together for decades. They sound really retro but fresh. They are a killer trio. I’m a sucker for the Hammond B3 and its place in jazz. It always makes me happy. They mix jazz, funk, soul. It’s a fun one for the West Vancouver Memorial Library this year.

NSN: The next day is another free show with Ayrad & François Houle Trio outside at Civic Plaza.
FIONA BLACK: It’s a collaboration between this band that is based in Montreal with a Moroccan leader. I don’t know if you’ve heard much Moroccan music it’s danceable but trance-like. It’s beautiful. They’re doing three performances one with us, one with Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver, the French festival that happens right before jazz fest. They do this every year, they bring in a band usually from Montreal or somewhere in Quebec and they collaborate with a Vancouver, B.C.-based artist. This year François Houle is the Vancouver artist. He is such an ingenious improviser and he’s played with so many people. I know from his Facebook posts he’s super excited about this.

NSN: Latin dance band Mazacote visit Lynn Valley Village on Sunday afternoon.
FIONA BLACK: They’re a great local band, They’ve been around for a few years and have got killer horns. They can really transport you to Cuba and further south with Colombian rhythms. They do it really well. For a sunny Sunday in Lynn Valley Village, it will be super good. They’re very tight. They’ve played long enough together now they have this awareness of each other that’s uncanny.

NSN: Singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell makes her debut at the BlueShore.
FIONA BLACK: Ellen Jewell played the Vancouver Folk Music Festival last year. I didn’t have the pleasure to see her but I certainly heard the buzz about her. She’s more well known in the Americana roots vein. Her last CD which is her seventh CD, Down Hearted Blues, is so good. It’s got a lot of retro in what she’s doing. She’s so timeless. She’s picked some really nice old blues covers to do with an updated punchy feel to them. Her guitarist Jerry Miller is a guitarist’s guitarist. I’m really looking forward to her and her band. I think they will be a lovely debut on our stage.

NSN: Grammy-nominated and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz award-winning drummer, bandleader Jamison Ross is on the BlueShore stage the next night.
FIONA BLACK: I did have the pleasure to see Jamison live at a jazz club in New York and he kind of blew me away. His voice is unbelievable. He’s got this soulful homage to Stevie Wonder, really pure, really sweet. He does soul, he does gospel and traditional jazz. He’s based in New Orleans so he’s certainly been influenced by living in that great music city. He started out as a drummer. He’s the Phil Collins of the jazz festival as he’s a drummer and singer and the leader of the band.
He got noticed as a drummer to begin with but on his first album he wanted to sing as well. He has a real sweet personality on stage and he’ll be another much-anticipated debut for us.

NSN: Los Lobos frontman David Hildago and guitarist Marc Ribot like to mix things up. I’ve seen a setlist where they threw in Merle Haggard, Bo Diddley, Serge Gainsbourg, Wilson Pickett and Dave Alvin tunes along with their own stuff.
FIONA BLACK: I’m so happy to bring these two mavericks together. There’s a nice little back connection because we had Hidalgo in our Waits Wicked Grin homage this year. We had Marc Ribot a couple of years ago with Ceramic Dog. It was a big hit, it was the loudest show we ever did at Cap. Hidalgo and Ribot go back and they love to do this duo show. They don’t do it that often but they really love playing together.

NSN: Keith Bennett and Miles Black are performing their own homage to the harmonica at Presentation House.
FIONA BLACK: Yes, a fun tribute to Toots Theilmann and Stevie Wonder, both big harmonica fans which is the gel that’s glueing this show together. I’m a big fan of both Keith and Miles and I can’t wait to see them do this material together.

NSN: CBC Searchlight Top Ten Finalists Coco Jafro play outdoors a week Saturday in Civic Plaza in front of the library.
FIONA BLACK:  Coco Jafro are a fun local band and they’re getting tons of buzz. I’m really careful with the outdoor shows I really want the bands to be high-energy and accessible to everyone. They appeal to a wide range of people and are a young band to watch.

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