Jazz Birthday Party

September 13, 2017

We invite you to join us for our first Colloquium of the 2017-2018 season. On Friday, September 29, from 10 to 11:30 in the Malaspina Theatre (Bldg. 310), Greg Bush, from the Music Department, will give a presentation entitled A Jazz Birthday Party: One Hundred Years on Record. This year is Canada's sesquicentennial. It is also the 100th anniversary of the very first jazz recording. And it is the first year of the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival. Bush will draw these events together in a broad-ranging talk on the jazz tradition in Canada.


Canada's jazz history includes many prominent composers and artists. Most famous is Oscar Peterson, who was an international star in the last half of the twentieth century. Other well-known Canadian performers include Lennie Breau, Oliver Jones, Moe Kauffman, Paul Bley, and Diana Krall. But there is also an earlier jazz tradition in Canada. In fact, when a New Orleans group called the Original Dixieland Jass Band (sic) travelled to New York City in 1917 to make the first jazz recordings, one of the songs that they chose was written by a Canadian-born composer named Shelton Brooks.



Brooks, of African descent, was born on 4 May 1886 in Amherstburg, Ontario. According to his entry in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Brooks taught himself to play on a pump organ at the church where his father was the preacher. After the family moved to the United States in the first years of the twentieth century, Brooks was soon active in the music and vaudeville scene in the Detroit-Chicago area.


In Chicago, Brooks had his own band, and one night they played a gig at an annual ball attended by those involved in the world's oldest profession. Inspired, Brooks wrote "The Darktown Strutters Ball," a rowdy and popular song that was recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in 1917. Brooks went on to have a successful career as a songwriter in the United States.


"My presentation," says Bush, "will focus on the original recordings and their historical importance, the importance of Canada's contribution to jazz music in general, and how the preceding has led to the formation of a jazz society in Nanaimo that is putting on the September jazz festival." 


Of course, a talk on music needs music, and Bush will be assisted by a VIU student jazz ensemble. There will even be a performance of "The Darktown Strutters Ball." Bush also promises a sing-along, and to end the presentation, the ensemble will accompany the audience in a rendition of "Happy Birthday," done in a New Orleans-style.           




Bush holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University and a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from McGill University. Prior to moving to Nanaimo, he was Director of Jazz Studies at Abilene University in Texas. In addition to his broad teaching experience, Bush has enjoyed a career as a busy freelance jazz trumpet player, arranger, and composer. He's had the good fortune of playing in big bands and orchestras that have accompanied many fine jazz artists, and as the leader of his own groups has performed his original compositions in jazz clubs, concert halls and jazz festivals in Canada and abroad.  He has released a CD entitled Cause and Effect, which features his original music. 


On September 29 you are encouraged to come early at 9:30 for coffee, juice, cookies, and conversation in the theatre foyer.


Courtesy parking for this presentation will be available. Enter through Gate 5D (access from Fifth Street) and park in the lot to the right. From 9:15 to 10:00 am, students in safety vests will be near entrances to guide you and provide you with a pass for your dashboard. The pass will be good until 1:00 pm. (If this lot is full, go to gate 5F and park in one of the first two sections. Please click on the link for a view of the campus map to see the locations of the lots. https://www2.viu.ca/map/


For those of you have difficulty with stairs, please reply to this message and we will raise the gate at entrance 5D (access from Fifth Street) between 9:30 and 10:00 and from 11:30 to 1:00 pm. With the gate up, it is possible to drive to the theatre door and let someone off there.


Please mark your calendar for upcoming Colloquium presentations.


October 20--Anna Atkinson, English Department, It's the End of the World as We Know It: Archetypal Narratives, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Fate of Civilization


November 24--Cathryn Spence, History Department, The Rights of the Dead: Women and Wills in Early Modern Scotland


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"Nanaimo Arts Council acknowledges with gratitude that we are on the traditional and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation."