Guitarist Michael Occhipinti brings The Sicilian Project to the Vernon Jazz Cub Saturday

Guitarist Michael Occhipinti brings The Sicilian Project to the Vernon Jazz Cub Saturday

Toronto guitarist brings his Sicilian Project to Vernon Jazz Club

The old world is about to meet the new world when Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Project plays the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday, Nov. 26.

  • Nov. 23, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Candice McMahon

For The Morning Star

The old world is about to meet the new world when Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Project plays the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday, Nov. 26.

Led by the Toronto-based jazz guitarist, the group has been dazzling audiences worldwide with an intriguing mix of rare Sicilian folk with modern sounds, including electric guitars, chamber music, funk and reggae grooves, as well as modern jazz.

They toured extensively during the summer and fall last year, and the group has brought its captivating and infectious live show to a range of festivals across Canada, Italy, the U.S. and Mexico.

Their music has been attracting attention from critics, and audiences, alike.

“Occhipinti has crafted his music with uncommon perfection,” said Raul d’Gama Rose, with All About Jazz, while Alex Varty, with The Georgia Straight, wrote:

“Sicilian tempers run legendarily high, but inhabitants of the Italian island, and their descendants, have a matching appetite for fun.”

An eight-time Juno Award nominee for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, Occhipinti is a modern guitarist and a composer/band- leader interested in creative music of all kinds. He has performed with such notable musicians as Sam Rivers, Bruce Cockburn, Joe Lovano, Jeff Coffin, and long-time colleague Don Byron.

A well-respected instructor, Occhipinti  teaches at Humber College, Centennial College, and The Royal Conservatory of Music, all in Toronto.

Italian singer Ilaria Patassini, known as Pilar, is part of the Sicilian Project and is described as an absolutely stunning vocalist, who is able to move between art song, Sicilian folk, and world pop in five languages.

A highly creative improviser, Pilar fearlessly throws herself into a song completely.

“Rarely have I seen performers, and particularly singers, who immersed themselves in the music as much as Italian vocalist Pilar,” said Alayne McGregor, with Ottawajazzscene.ca.

Also joining the Sicilian Project for this performance are trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, bassist Scott Kemp and drummer Tony Ferraro.

The recipient of five Juno awards, Turcotte is recognized as one of Canada’s major trumpet talents. He has toured with the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, the Dave Young Quartet, vocalist Elizabeth Sheppard, the David Braid Sextet and the Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra.

A graduate of the Humber College jazz studies program in Toronto, Kemp has toured throughout the world, including jazz festivals and clubs across Canada and the U.S.

Also a Humber grad, where he was awarded Percussionist of the Year, Ferraro just played at the Vernon Jazz Club Nov. 12 with vocalist Melody Diachun.

Michael Occhipinti & The Sicilian Project take the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000 31st St.) Saturday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Cash only bar on site. Tickets are $20 at Expression of Time and at www.vernonjazz.com, with a $5 rebate at the door for VJS members.