Jim Johnson (piano) and John Hansen (banjo

Jim Johnson (piano) and John Hansen (banjo

Band whistles Dixie at Vernon Jazz Club

Enderby’s premier Dixieland Jazz band The Cliff Jumpers are about to transform the stage into old-time New Orleans on Bourbon Street.

  • Jan. 25, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Candice McMahon

For The Morning Star

Formerly known and loved as The Dixie Allstars, Enderby’s premier Dixieland Jazz band The Cliff Jumpers are about to recharge the Vernon Jazz Club as they transform the stage into old-time New Orleans on Bourbon Street.

The Cliff Jumpers’ music is said to be infectious, as the happy, life’s good tunes take over your mind and body.

Patrons find themselves worn out at the end of the night from feeling so good.

Whatever magic The Cliff Jumpers conjure up through their Dixieland style, it’s sure to lift the audience’s spirits.

The Cliff Jumpers play their own version of traditional Dixieland, and put their spin on classic standards such as Basin Street BluesMuskrat Ramble, and Do You Miss New Orleans.

“A huge thank to the lovely gentlemen of The Cliff Jumpers Dixieland Jazz Band, who came out and taught us the real meaning of the term Dixieland Jazz. The sunshine came out, the wind died down and the New Orleans’ tunes filled the air for a truly wonderful evening,” reads a July, 2016 Facebook post from Salmon Arm’s Wednesdays on the Wharf.

Jim “Flying Fingers” Johnson, doctor of the keyboard, is now retired as a local music teacher, but is busier than ever conducting the Salmon Arm Community Band, zooming off to Kamloops to play in a rock band, and playing ragtime on his grand piano.

John Hansen says he loves the happy jazz of Dixieland and also sings with the Cliff Jumpers. When not strumming the ole banjo, he is busy getting bookings for the band.

“That’s the other reason the band keeps me around,” he said.

Greg Sumner’s knowledge of Dixieland and vintage jazz is evident in every song he plays. He not only plays bass, but can also play banjo, piano, guitar, and cornet. And he sings too.

“Professor” Terry Kosowick, on trumpet and bass, keeps the band on target by calling the tunes and setting the beat. He really is a professor and still teaches at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus, while also playing in several bands in the Shuswap area.

With shades of Turk Murphy’s San Francisco Jazz, trombonist Gord Waters brings a mellow style to the band’s Dixieland music. Waters also plays with the Okanagan Symphony and says he enjoys playing Satchmo’s (Louis Armstrong’s) song Sleepy Time Down South, which never fails to please the audience.

Doug Sonju is now retired as principal clarinetist with the Okanagan Symphony, whom he played with for more than 40 years. He also performs with the Salmon Armenians and is a regular at the Vernon Jazz Club in a variety of bands.

The Cliff Jumpers are on stage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000-31st St.) Saturday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Cash only bar on site. Tickets are $20 online at www.vernonjazz.com and at Expressions of Time (2901-30 Ave.), with a $5 rebate at the gig for VJS members.