RazzMaJazz Jazz Ensemble kicks off festival with Mardi Gras performance. (Anita van Weerden/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

RazzMaJazz Jazz Ensemble kicks off festival with Mardi Gras performance. (Anita van Weerden/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

‘We want you to be part of the community from your living room’

Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival goes virtual, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 4 and 5, with 17 acts

Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival organizers are boasting 17 acts, two live-streamed headliner shows, and plenty of opportunities to keep connected during this year’s virtual event Friday and Saturday, Sept. 4 and 5.

Founders Karen Zukas and Dave Quinn said it’s been a long, difficult, but exciting road bringing the third annual festival to jazz lovers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was an interesting journey where we’d pivoted, pivoted, pivoted until we’ve got to where we are now,” Zukas explained.

While COVID-19 overthrew any notion of having an outdoor festival with multiple stages, interactive art galleries, painter, and family activities lining the streets of Fort Langley, Quinn said going forward, the virtual aspect of the festival will forever continue.

“Going forward, the festival will always have a virtual component,” he explained. “Music and arts can bring in the younger generation and you need a mix of in-person and virtual to do that.”

What viewers will get this year is a mix of pre-recorded performances, ticketed live-streamed events, and bonus materials that are download-able at https://www.fortlangleyjazzfest.com.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Langley jazz enthusiasts stroll around town Mardi Gras style

“It’s all high quality production because of a fantastic production team,” Quinn assured. “We pre-recorded the bulk of performances in August and it’s going to be just as if you were there. We had three cameras to add a variety of angles and professional lighting and sound.”

This year’s festival line-up includes:

• Sister Jazz Orchestra, an 18-woman jazz ensemble showcasing Vancouver’s most accomplished female musicians

• Roma Jazz Ensemble, playing a mix of traditional eastern European folk, classical, swing and contemporary jazz

• Up Close, a jazz fusion ensemble made up of graduate students of the Langley Fine Arts School

• TLC Trio, the Turner-Lachance-Coon Trio creates music that is both adventurous and sublimely melodic

• Christian Alexandrov Quartet, all about soul and R&B

• Mike Allen Quartet in a Tribute to John Coltrane, featuring acclaimed Vancouver tenor saxophonist, Mike Allen, and pianist and composer, Miles Black

• Alvin Brandon Trio, Festival’s Rising Star recipient

• Rooster Davis & Brad Shigeta Band, featuring New Orleans boogie woogie style piano

• Jennifer Scott Trio, one of the premier jazz vocal improvisers in Canada

• Laila Biali Trio, Juno award-winning singer-songwriter and pianist

• Mazacote, a hard-hitting world Latin party band playing brass-soaked tropical dance beats

Zukas said the performances are straight forward, with each performance lasting about 20 to 30 minutes.

COVID protocols were in place during the recording process, which included social distancing measures, cleaning between performances, and only one band allowed in the performance space at a time.

“It was the first time a lot of the groups had played together in months, so it was quite emotional and meaningful to them,” Zukas said.

Two program installments will be live-streamed and ticketed, including the All-star Blues Show hosted by Jim Byrnes with Taylor James Band opening and Tom Lavin and The Legendary Powder Blues on Friday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. and Mimosa and Siobhan Walsh – a tribute to Aretha Franklin on Saturday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m.

People can purchase tickets to both shows at https://www.fortlangleyjazzfest.com/tickets.

The whole festival kicks off with a pre-recorded Mardi Gras parade on Saturday morning, an annual tradition that saw participants dress up and stroll down Fort Langley streets to Dixieland jazz.

Quinn and Zukas also said another aspect that will be different this year is the fact that there will be a virtual host – musician and journalist Daniela Carmona – who will introduce viewers to each performance.

“Danielle interviewed the leader of each band,” Zukas said. “It won’t be part of the show, but will be available on demand – helping people to get to know the artists.”

Artwork is also currently on display at https://www.fortlangleyjazzfest.com/virtual-art-walk, featuring the work of 26 local artists.

Organizers are also hoping people will join in on an interactive salsa dance party happening on Saturday during Latin band Mazacote’s performance.

“It will add to the experience that you are part of something,” Zukas said. “People can send video clips to share the moment with us too.”

Zukas and Quinn have been doling out suggestions to make the festival a more communal event by inviting the family over and putting the performances up on a big screen TV.

People have the chance to win backyard decor, a fully stocked beverage cooler, an outdoor screen rental, and a BBQ feast by following the jazz fest on social media.

“We want you to enjoy our community and be part of the community from your living room,” Quinn explained. “We have a diverse program of Latin, swing, salsa, and soul. People can enjoy without worrying about what’s going on in the world.”

“There’s a focus on the power of music to bring joy and celebrate music and community,” Zukas added. “The festival is an example of creativity and innovation in a time when we need music and art.”

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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