2023 Festival Artists

Heather Bambrick

Playing: Concert 4 (with Jodi Proznick Trio) & Concert 6 (Heather Bambrick Quartet)

Heather Bambrick is a JUNO-nominated vocalist who has collaborated with Phil Nimmons, Fred Hirsch, Gene DiNovi, Guido Basso, Lea Delaria, Rob McConnell, Peter Appleyard, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, and others. 

Heather has released three solo recordings, including You’ll Never Know, which was nominated for Vocal Jazz Recording of the Year at the 2017 JUNO Awards and Jazz Recording of the Year at the 2018 East Coast Music Awards. Her new recording is set for release in early 2019. Heather has been a featured guest on numerous projects, and has been awarded Canada’s National Jazz Award for Vocalist of the Year. 

Beyond singing, Heather is one of Canada’s top voice actors, voicing characters for commercial campaigns and several animated series including Emmy-nominated Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Justin Time. She is also an award-winning broadcaster on JAZZ.FM91 (Canada’s only all-Jazz radio station), and a highly regarded adjudicator and clinician, working at schools and festivals across Canada.

Heather’s live performances have been described as “what happens when Ella Fitzgerald meets Carol Burnett at a Newfoundland Kitchen Party!” As a born-and-raised Newfoundlander, Heather uses her East-Coast charm to welcome the audience in to a true “show”. 

Heather is a musician’s singer, operating at the top of her craft. She brings together top-notch musicians (internationally considered to be some of the best in their field), wide-ranging repertoire (including everything from jazz standards and impressive original compositions, to reimagined pop tunes and Newfoundland folk songs), interesting and unique arrangements, and outstanding stage presence and humour to create a show that is entertainment at its finest! 

As Heather, herself, puts it: “People often feel a need to ‘connect’: to music, to stories, to artist, and to each other. I like to make that connection through music, stories, laughter, and true entertainment. As an artist, I feel it’s my duty ensure audiences are entertained and engaged through and through. There are a lot of people who crave that feeling of getting lost in a show – and I want to give it to them.”

Jodi Proznick

Playing: Concert 4 (Jodi Proznick Trio) & Concert 6 (with Heather Bambrick Quartet)

Two time Juno-nominated bassist, composer, producer and educator Jodi Proznick has earned a reputation as one of Canada’s finest jazz artists. She has won numerous National Jazz Awards, including Bassist of the Year in ’08 and ’09. Her group, the Jodi Proznick Quartet, was awarded the Acoustic Group of the Year and Album of the Year in ‘08 and the Galaxie Rising Star at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in ‘04. Most recently, Jodi was awarded the Jazz Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards and the Platinum Jubilee Art and Music Award from the Lieutenant Governer of British Columbia.

Jodi has performed with many of Canada’s top musicians, including P.J. Perry, Don Thompson, Kirk MacDonald, Guido Basso, Oliver Gannon, Dee Daniels, Phil Dwyer, Mark Fewer, Bill Henderson and Laila Biali as well as international jazz legends such as David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Sheila Jordan, George Coleman, Seamus Blake, Lewis Nash, Peter Bernstein, Tootie Heath, Bucky Pizzarelli, Russell Malone, Harold Mabern, Eddie Daniels and Ed Thigpen. In addition to recording her own Juno-nominated CDs as a leader, Jodi has been featured on over 50 recordings as a sidewoman.

Jodi Proznick’s 2017 album Sun Songs was a new venture for her as a composer, bassist, producer, and songwriter. It also garnered her a JUNO nomination. Join Jodi and her tro for a musical experience that explores the depths of and reverence for the dualities of life.

Featuring Jodi Proznick – bass, Tilden Webb – piano, Jesse Cahill – drums & Heather Bambrick – vocals.

Bruce James Orchestra

Playing: Concert 7 (Club Show) & Concert 10 (Big Band Gala Dance)

Founded by Band leader Bruce Flello, the Bruce James Orchestra has been an active part of the live music scene in the Greater-Vancouver area since its inception in 1999. Comprised of talent from all over the Lower-Mainland, the Bruce James Orchestra provides the finest in big band performance.

As specialists in big band / swing dances, parties, weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, jazz vespers,  and community events and celebrations, the Bruce James Orchestra loves the opportunity to perform, and to share music in the community and bring the Best of Big Band to Vancouver and beyond!

The Bruce James Orchestra strives to keep music of the big band era alive, plus bring music of other genres and later decades to its audience. The Bruce James Orchestra prides itself of diversity in repertoire and extreme professionalism in services. The mantra of the ensemble: Professionalism, Passion, Exceptional Performance, and Showmanship. These are key elements we hold in an effort to bring superb quality performances to our audiences.

John Lee Trio

Playing: Concert 5 (Jazz & Charcuterie) & Concert 8 (John Lee Trio)

Raised in Nanaimo BC, John Lee is one of the most respected and acclaimed young jazz musicians nation wide. After showing great interest in music at a young age, Lee developed into a virtuoso by his late teens and by the time Lee completed his high school studies he had received a remarkable amount of recognition by prominent jazz musicians in Canada and earned an impressive collection of awards, scholarships and honors from Envision Jazz Festival, MusicFest Canada and Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Through the recommendation of Ingrid Jensen (Maria Schneider Orchestra) and Christian Fabian (Lionel Hampton Big Band), Lee applied to the prestigious Berklee College of Music and received a full tuition and housing scholarship. Lee completed his undergraduate studies in May 2016 and received a Bachelor of Music in Performance. In addition to his academic training in Boston, Lee was mentored by world-renowned jazz educators Dave Santoro, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ralph Peterson Jr., and John Clayton.  As an artist, John Lee is known for his incredible proficiency as a multi-instrumentalist as well as his ability to connect audience to his music and live charisma. Lee has done an extensive amount of performing in cities located in North America including New York City (Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, SOMETHIN’ Jazz Club), Boston (Wally’s Jazz Café, The Beehive), Washington (Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Hamilton Live), Toronto (The Rex), Vancouver (Cellar Jazz Club), and Victoria (Hermann’s Jazz Club). Lee has performed numerous times as a sideman and leader at international jazz festivals including TD Prince Edward County Jazz Festival, DC Jazz Festival and TD Victoria and Vancouver International Jazz Festival.  John Lee has shared the stage with international jazz artists such as Cyrus Chestnut, Larry Fuller, George Colligan, Seamus Blake, Terell Stafford, Ingrid Jensen as well as prominent Canadian jazz artists and educators Christine Jensen, Brad Turner, Jodi Proznick and Phil Dwyer.

John Lee will be joined at the Townsite Jazz Festival by Kosma Busheikin and Graham Villette.

Dr. Tony Genge

Playing: Concert 2 (Organ Trio in Bluesville) & Concert 3 (The Tiny Rhythm Kings)

A native of Vancouver, Tony Genge is one of Canada’s leading jazz organists and jazz pianists. He is also a respected music educator, and a well-known and much-recorded composer of classical music.

A Genge started as a jazz organist performing for a number of years in Vancouver, before studying classical composition in the late 1970s. He completing a Ph.D. in composition with the composer Morton Feldman in 1984.

From 1989 until 2005 Genge taught jazz piano in the Dept. of Music at St. Francis Xavier University. During that time he also performed extensively with many leading jazz artists, at the same time maintaining an active career as a classical composer.

As a jazz pianist, his cool and swinging style references the great jazz piano tradition of pianists such Ahmad Jamal, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Horace Silver and Les McCann.

As a jazz organist, Genge presents his bluesy, soul-jazz influenced style on the Hammond B3 organ in concerts and clubs. His roots are in the stylings of the great jazz organists such as Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Jack McDuff and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes, combined with a variety of modern jazz influences.

Over the years Genge has performed with many leading international jazz artists, including Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Paul Horn, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Jerry Bergonzi, Jeff Hamilton, Roberta Gamberini, Adam Nussbaum, Gene Bertoncini, Joey Baron, Randy Brecker, Peter Erskin, Larry Grenadier, Lew Soloff, P.J. Perry and many others.

Genge’s work can be heard on many recordings, including his critically acclaimed piano trio CD ‘Blues Walk’, and as a organist on the recording ‘Bicostal Collective Chapter Four’.

As a classical composer, Genge’s solo, chamber, and orchestral music has been performed and commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan. His music has been characterized by its distinctive harmonic language, elegant orchestration and postmodern mix of musical elements. It is available on many recordings and has also been used for dance and film. 

He currently lives in Victoria, Canada, where he maintains a very busy performance schedule as a much sought after jazz organist and pianist.

Organ Trio in Bluesville features Dr. Tony Genge–organ, Andrew Janusson–guitar & Kelby MacNayr–drums.

Kelby MacNayr

Playing: Concert 2 (Organ Trio in Bluesville) & Concert 3 (The Tiny Rhythm Kings)

Drummer / composer / band-leader Kelby MacNayr performs groundbreaking original music, soulful swinging jazz, reaching contemporary music and traditional music from around the world.  A dynamic and creative musician MacNayr performs in Canada and abroad with leading musicians from New York, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto & Europe.  A faculty member of the renowned Jazz Port Townsend Festival under director John Clayton, staff at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival, Kelby follows his passion to create and collaborate, teach and learn.  The Kelby MacNayr Quintet released The Measure of Light featuring Phil Dwyer, Dan Lapp, Miles Black & Tom Wakeling.  Other projects include the Great American Songbook Trio featuring Louise Rose, the Swing Rhythm Kings and the SoulTet! MacNayr has performed with Phil Dwyer, Neil Swainson, Regina Carter, Jeffery Clayton, Marianne Trudel, Ingrid Jensen, Larry Fuller, John Clayton, George Colligan, Geoffrey Keezer and more.

The Tiny Rhythm Kings feature Dr. Tony Genge–organ, Andrew Janusson–guitar & Kelby MacNayr–drums/vocals.

Celso Machado

Playing: Concert 9

Virtuoso Brazilian guitarist, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, Celso Machado, transports his audiences through the richness and diversity of Brazilian music and beyond. For forty years Celso Machado has been performing on concert stages throughout Brazil, Western Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, and the United States. Considered one of the most versatile and exciting musician/composers of Brazilian music today; his guitar technique is but one of his passions; his gift for making music out of anything and everything around us is his mission in life.

In addition to Celso’s solo career he has shared the stages with some of the world’s great guitarists: Sergio and Odair Assad, Badi Assad, Romero Lubambo, Yamandu Costa, Cristina Azuma, Peter Finger, and Solorazaf.  He has opened for Gilberto Gil, Bebel Gilberto, Hermeto Pascaul, and  Al di Meola; amongst other great musicians.

Brazilian music has arisen out of various blends of Classical European, African, Portuguese and Indigenous influences. There is less division in Brazilian music between classical and jazz, jazz and folk.  While Celso’s music is rooted in Brazilian rhythmic and melodic styles, it also reflects his incurable fascination with other world music traditions. He finds similarities between the music of southern Italy and northeast Brazil, the Egyptian Maqsoum and the Brazilian Baião  rhythm, the Moroccan Gnawa rhythm  and Afoxé and Samba. Celso incorporates these influences into his own sound; his own unique contribution to the ongoing evolution of Brazilian music.

Drawing on his thorough study of classical guitar, Celso composes for guitar and ensemble.  His remarkably innovative compositions are infused with a rich knowledge of the traditional music of Brazil: samba, chôro, baião, frêvo etc.  His compositions are published by Editions Henry Lemoine in Paris and are performed and recorded by both students and professionals around the World, from solo performances to guitar orchestras.  Many of his scores have been adapted for other instruments: piano, violin, cello, clarinet, pan pipes, harp etc.

Walter Martella

Playing: Concert 1 (Walter Martella Trio), Concert 9 (with Celso Machado), Concert 10 (with Brooks//Max Alumni Jazz Choir) & TBA

Walter Martella is a Powell River musical phenomenon. A pianist, trumpeter, accordionist, conductor and composer, he is one of the great gems of the Sunshine Coast and has a dedicated fan base to prove it. Walter has taken the stage with many other world class musicians, including Don Thompson, Tom Keenlyside, Phil Dwyer, Dave Robbins, Alan Matheson, Rene Worst, Henry Young, Rick Killburn, Keith Copeland, to name just a few. His musical versatility has him equally comfortable from classical through rock, but his first love is jazz.