Nanaimo Musicians Perform Jazz Interpretations of Gordon Lightfoot Songs – Nanaimo News Bulletin

A Nanaimo musician gave Gordon Lightfoot’s songs a jazz twist, and he is presenting this body of work for the first time to a home audience.

In 2017, James McRae released his album Lightfoot impressions, and as he played material from this record around Island, Vancouver and Gabriola Island, on November 1, he finally brings this repertoire to Nanaimo with a performance at the Port Theater.

“I started off with a song: Early Morning Rain,” McRae said. “I didn’t really think too much about it, but then I was like, ‘Hey, this is really fun. Maybe I could do it with other Gordon Lightfoot songs.

The Port Theaters show is part of an ongoing series of in-person and live concerts hosted by the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival. The evening opens with a performance by bassist Tasha Adams and her quintet.

McRae will be joined by singer Jennifer Scott and bassist Rene Worst of Vancouver, who appear on Lightfoot impressions, as well as local keyboardist Nico Rhodes, who helped McRae rearrange Early Morning Rain.

“Jennifer is essential to do the gig because she knows Lightfoot songs so well,” McRae said. “She has been singing them with her siblings since she was a young girl and so she is very drawn to the project because of the deep connection.”

The band will perform songs from the album, as well as other arrangements by Lightfoot that were not accepted. The performance will be accompanied by a slideshow of impressionist paintings related to the songs.

McRae said Lightfoot’s songs were “etched in my musical psyche from a young age”, as he regularly heard the music of the Canadian folk singer on the radio growing up.

“It was really the melody and the words – for me personally, the melody – it was really what had captivated me with his songs and which allowed me to imagine a song like Early Morning Rain in a context of jazz… ”said McRae. “I could hear this organ and I could really relate to it.”

Other remaining shows in the Jazz Festival series include performances by Andrew Homzy and the Nola Nighthawks and the Laila Biali Trio on October 25. The series ends November 10 with Ralph Barrat and the Sharp Seven and Dean Boland and the Skye Douglas Project. Details can be found here.

WHAT’S NEW… James McRae presents Lightfoot impressions at the Port Theater, 125 Front St., Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Theater tickets $ 30, live broadcast tickets $ 15, available at Port Theater.


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Grace D. Erickson

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