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Jazz part of a vibrant Salmon Arm scene

Jazz quartet, Safeword, makes its debut at the Salmon Arm Jazz Club Thursday, April 10 at Shuswap Chefs.
Safeword jazz band members Blair Shier

It’s a change of scenery that brought Jordan Dick to Salmon Arm.

It’s the music that keeps him here.

“I moved here four- and-a-half years ago and Sandy (Cameron) was one of the first people I met,” he says, noting Salmon Arm’s cultural scene was a surprise, but one he embraced by playing with Jazz Salmon Arm, also known as the Jazz Club. “I don’t think I’d still be here, I would have moved somewhere else.

By joining the club, and booking acts since Cameron moved to Vancouver Island last summer, Dick has been given the opportunity to play with Juno award-winning musicians from across Canada.

He says when Cameron started the club, musicians used Salmon Arm as a stopover on their way to gigs in Vancouver. But the club and the always-enthusiastic audiences have turned that around so that Salmon Arm has become the booking of choice.

Dick says musicians give Salmon Arm Jazz venue and audiences rave reviews. In an email to Dick, Vancouver saxophone player Brent Mah said:

“I’ve played in almost every city in the country and I can honestly say you have a pretty unique thing happening here. I was really stoked to see what you’ve done with the jazz scene since the last time I was there.”

Since September, the smallest audience to attend the jazz nights that occur on the second and fourth Thursday of the month in the banquet room of Shuswap Chefs has been 77 people.

“The audience has been blown away by the music and the musicians have been blown away by the audience,” he says of the mutual admiration. “Ninety per cent of the groups get in touch with us now and I already have three acts booked for April 2015.”

Admitting to being obsessed by the jazz scene and constantly looking at clubs on the Internet, Dick says the Jazz Club’s mandate is to book acts on a 50 per cent local and 50 per cent out-of-town ratio of musicians.

And if there is no act planned, well, you just form a new group for a gig, such as Safeword, a jazz quartet that will perform tomorrow night. Safeword is Dick on guitar, Blair Shier, a professional guitar player on electric bass, Garreth Seys on trombone and Devon Leyenhost on drums.

“He’s the newest member, a young guy in his early 20s,” Dick says. “He’s phenomenal and this will be his debut.”

Mixing rich jazz harmonies with grooving funk and R&B rhythms, Dick describes Safeword as Salmon Arm’s  latest modern jazz inception.

“The group will perform a variety of familiar songs in a potentially unfamiliar manner; utilizing the magic of improvisation,” says Dick. “I am very excited about this particular project.”

The Willy Gaw Quintet performs Thursday, April 24 and on May 1, jazz fans won’t want to miss a special homecoming performance by Sandy Cameron and his group, Aged to Perfection.

Jazz Club concerts begin at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 and a tapas menu is available. Dinner is available at the restaurant by reservation.

“Admission is by donation. We’d like to remind you that we are a non-profit group, we get no funding outside the club and the door donations are the major source of the money we have to pay the musicians,” says Dick of the admission-by-donation policy.

“We want to make it accessible and affordable and I encourage everyone to come.”

Dick will also perform Friday, April 11 at the Pie Company with Tanya Lipscomb, a member of the Dharma Dolls, who have performed to appreciative audiences at the Jazz Club.


“We did a three-day gig at a heli skiing lodge – nine sets in three days,” says Dick, who is working on a summer concert series for Thursday nights in July and August. “I played 100 songs I’ve never played before, everything from Louis Armstrong to Jimi Hendrix.”