The Jazz Handles

The Jazz Handles

Locals handle jazz with care

North Okanagan-Shuswap musicians join forces as the Jazz Handles, who play the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday, Sept. 22.

The Vernon Jazz Club is thrilled to feature a terrific lineup of local jazz masters, The Jazz Handles, featuring Vernon’s Neil Fraser and Steve Todd, at the club Saturday night.

Jazz Handles’ musicians include Fraser on guitar, Todd on keyboards and vocals, bandleader Bill Lockie on stand-up bass and vocals, and Brian Pratt-Johnson on percussion and vocals.

With a rich history of performing together over the years, these seasoned musicians united to create Jazz Handles. Together now for over four months, the band recently played at Predator Ridge and Lorenzo’s Café.

Performing a wide-ranging repertoire, Jazz Handles will be highlighting Latin, swing, and boogie-woogie tunes.

Lockie will handle many of the vocals, including Jobim’s A Felicidade in its original Portuguese language. The band will also perform Sergio Mendes’ Mas Que Nada, Honeysuckle Rose, Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me, Cheek to Cheek, and an original jazz waltz by Fraser.

Lockie has been performing in the North Okanagan and Shuswap for the past 20 years.

“I was drawn into the world of jazz because I like the improvisation and spontaneity of it,” he said.

Lockie’s versatility is reflected in his many musical inspirations.

“I’ve been influenced by all forms of music, including popular music, ‘60s rock and roll, early country, classical guitar, and of course jazz musicians such as bassists Ray Brown and Ron Carter.”

Besides playing with Jazz Handles, Lockie gigs with gypsy jazz group Gadjology and a wide assortment of local musicians including Sandy Cameron, Don Ross, and Judy Rose.

Lockie is in the process of recording some favourite swing and Latin tunes with Fraser.

Since his last appearance at the VJC, Fraser has been busy playing with Lent Fraser Wall as well as the newly formed Jazz Handles.

“I’m looking forward to entertaining the jazz club patrons with the diverse styles that each member of this quartet brings to the group,” he said.

Like Fraser, who took up guitar at age 14, Todd’s interest in jazz began early.

“My brother played an Oscar Peterson record for me when I was eight years old and I was mesmerized,” said Todd.

In the music profession for the past 38 years, Todd is equally adept performing live or in the recording studio, with countless gigs at home and abroad.  He earned his first gold record performing on Sue Medley’s self-titled 1989 debut CD.

Todd says his influences are “way too many to mention,” but counts Dave Brubeck, Stevie Wonder, Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull, Bill Evans, and Louis Jordan among the many.

Todd is currently in the studio working on his latest solo CD.

Pratt-Johnson has been living in the Shuswap for the past 22 years, keeping busy playing jazz and teaching high school.

“Jazz Handles is a challenging and exciting group to be a part of and the audience should experience great upheaval,” he promised.

Doors to Saturday’s show at the Vernon Jazz Club, 3000-31st St.,  open at 7:15 p.m. with the concert at 8 p.m.

Vernon and area music fans will be pleased to learn that tickets for all shows at the club can now be purchased online at www.vernonjazzclub.ca as well as at the regular outlets, the Bean Scene and Bean to Cup. Cost is $20, with rebates to jazz society members available at the door.