Neil Fraser, one of Vernon Jazz Club’s most favourite and revered local musicians, has formed a local jazz quartet dubbed Nomad.
“The idea of Nomad was to play some instrumental jazz tunes that have both energy and accessibility,” says Fraser. “The name Nomad is intriguing: being open to a new idea or direction and being happy with surprise.”
The band will be showcasing Jazz standards and Gypsy swing. Jazz standards are musical compositions that are essential for Jazz musicians. These songs are well-established and easily recognized by both jazz players and jazz fans. The instrumental solos and musical variations that jazz artists apply to these songs keep them interesting, unique, and often challenging.
Gypsy swing was created by the famous Django Reinhardt. With this hot jazz guitar style, Reinhardt elevated the guitar from solely a rhythm instrument to a fine, lyrical diva in its own right. There’s no need for a singer when the guitar becomes a siren, hypnotizing you with its enchanting vocalizations.
The guitar solos listeners will be treated to are traditionally made up of arpeggios and chromatic notes as well as elements of scales and chord melodies. They produce a down-to-Earth sound with melodies that are quite distinguishable and even catchy.
Our patrons will surely recognize Fraser’s style of playing, as he has played here in various band configurations an impressive total of 33 times during Vernon Jazz Club’s eighteen-year history.
“The Jazz Club is a favourite venue of many musicians. We are lucky to have it right in our own backyard,” Fraser says.
Fraser shares a friendly bond with his chosen bandmates.
“The players in this group are wonderful human beings as well as great musicians,” he says.
Bjorn Edblad, featured on clarinet, was born in Sweden. At the age of 12 he played accordion in a children’s musical group, and they became so popular that they were invited to play for the King and Queen of Sweden at the Stockholm Concert Hall. We can’t match that exalted experience for him at the Vernon Jazz Club, but perhaps we could arrange for some local royalty to be in the audience. Any former Queen Silver Stars planning to attend this event?
Egblad moved to Prince George in 1967. There he worked at a night club with the great singer Bill Kenny of the Original Ink Spots. He later played with the well-known country singer Gary Fjellgaard. After moving to Vernon in 1996, Egblad has played with many Okanagan groups including Mark Rose Swing Band, Pryme Time, Okanagan Swing, Easy Street, and others.
Shelby Wall has been playing guitar for most of his life from garage bands to professional groups. He began studying jazz with Fraser in the late 1980s and, in 1990 through 1992, performed with him in a guitar trio that included Les Copeland.
Subsequently, Fraser and Wall continued performing as a guitar duo for various engagements, and then in the mid-nineties they joined forces with John Lent to form Lent Fraser Wall. They have been performing together ever since to the absolute delight of local audiences.
For the past 15 years, Wall has attended a week-long jazz workshop at the Sorrento Centre, studying guitar with the likes of Bill Coon, Ron Peters, Mike Rudd, John Knowles, and many others.
“Probably the biggest influence over the last 30 years, though, comes from Neil Fraser,” says Wall.
Brian McMahon is a very active multi-instrumentalist in the Okanagan community, playing either trombone, saxophone, or bass and even backup vocals in many different bands, recordings, and musical projects.
McMahon is well-versed with Jazz standards, as he has listened, studied, played, and taught jazz for the majority of his life. His first introduction to playing Gypsy swing was with Gregor Sneddon and Adam Henderson (a protégé of Fraser’s) in Zingano. Zingano recorded 3 CDs and was popular back in the late-nineties, performing at local dances, resorts, and most regularly at the Eclectic Med.
When asked to join Nomad, McMahon was quite thrilled.
“My first instrument was guitar, so perhaps that explains my love of the ‘Hot Club’ sound,” he says. “I was totally hooked after hearing Stéphane Grappelli performing with Diz Disley in Vancouver.”
Nomad will be onstage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000-31 Street) March 10 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Caqsh only bar on site. Tickets $20 online at www.vernonjazz.com and at Expressions of Time (2901-30 Ave), with a $5 rebate at the gig for VJS members.