The Vernon Jazz Club audience will feel like its basking on a warm summer patio when Mimosa takes the stage Saturday night.
The band will play tunes from the great American songbook, including What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter), Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Jacob Jacobs), and La Vie En Rose (Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer) as well as Drown in My Own Tears (Ray Charles cover of Henri Glover).
The quintet will also be showcasing songs written by all three women of the band, Anna Lumière (piano), Rebecca Shoichet (lead vocals), and Karen Graves (sax and flute).
They are joined by Adam Thomas on bass and drummer Bernie Arai.
How do you explain a sound as unique as Mimosa’s?
The Georgia Straight has written, “Mimosa plays a fast-paced synthesis of Eastern European Gypsy music, klezmer, swing, pop, and vintage cabaret styles that’s sung both in French and English.”
Lumière explains it even further.
“If Cleo Lane, Jobim and Serge Gainsbourg all got together one night and jammed, they might sound like what Mimosa has to offer.”
Lumière, who founded the band in the late ‘90s alongside Lily Frost, was surrounded by music at home.
“Love for music was cultivated in my family. My mother is a violinist and we always played chamber music together. My brother was a boogie woogie piano player. Discovering jazz when coming to Canada from Switzerland at 17 was somewhat of a revelation, as I was particularly drawn to the freedom and spontaneity of improvisation.”
Lumière writes most of the music for the band with lyrics in French, Spanish, and English. Many of her compositions have been showcased on CBC and in film.
When asked what inspires her to write, she replies, “Writing can come from an emotional outpour: The original Love is Fickle is a lovers’ fight, or from a more planned crafted mindset, Show You Care, or even a rhythmic groove, El Amor. Every song is born in a different way and there is no right way. It’s all just an attempt to catch and hold the magic.”
Being able to hold that magic is part of the reason Mimosa has been so busy. The band has released three critically acclaimed albums and were chosen as the subject of a CBC documentary.
They were also one of four western Canadian bands featured on television, radio, and the web in the popular Le mai de la chanson d’ici on Radio-Canada.
Lead vocalist Shoichet co-starred in Joni Mitchell: River and La Cage Aux Folles, which were put on by the Vancouver Playhouse.
She has toured with Amanda Marshall, Tom Cochrane, Johnny Ferriera and the Swing Machine and has also done extensive work in voice overs and can be heard in children’s cartoons and anime.
Graves has studied with renowned Russian voice instructor Nikolai Kolesnikov and with saxophonists Pete Cristlieb and Pat Labarbera.
While under the direction of Hugh Fraser in the Banff Jazz Orchestra, Graves performed in concert with Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Muhal Richard Abrahms, and Kenny Wheeler.
Thomas was recently at the Vernon Jazz Club playing bass with drummer Morgan Childs.
He performs with many musicians including Mike Allen, Laila Biali, Trombone Mayhem, and Kate Hammett-Vaughn.
Arai has toured throughout Canada as well as Europe, the U.S., and Japan, working with great musicians such as Brad Turner, Jennifer Scott, and Sharon Minemoto. He has taught music at the Vancouver Community College, Capilano University and the Vancouver Creative Music Institute and has directed jazz bands at UBC, Douglas College, and North Shore Summer Jazz Intensives.
Arai has also been a guest host on CBC’s long running jazz show Hot Air twice; once to spotlight the powerful musicianship of Claude Ranger and the other to explore the influence of Canadian jazz on Canadian jazz musicians.
Mimosa takes the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000-31st St.) Saturday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and tickets are $20 at the Bean Scene, Bean to Cup, and at www.vernonjazz.ca.