Monterey welcomes generations of jazz

WeJam unites teens and adults in an evening of jazz at Monterey Recreation Centre

Ervin Braithwaite

Ervin Braithwaite

A concert of cross-generational jazz will elate ears at the Monterey Recreation Centre as teens join their senior counterparts for WeJam on Jan. 31.

WeJam is a bit of a play on UJAM, Universal Jazz Advocates and Mentors Society, which has a group of 13- to 15-year-old jazz enthusiasts that meet at the Long and McQuade performance space in Victoria once a week.

Among them is Tracy Laramee’s son Sam, who has a healthy addiction to the program.

“They practise and perform and do gigs around town,” said Tracy. She got the idea last spring to create a concert alongside older musicians, after seeing the effect of the older music on older audiences.

“To see the seniors lit up by this classic old music, the old jazz standards, it just brings back things for them,” Tracy said.

The UJam kids, Monterey Concert Band and Monterey’s Lounge Lizards Nearly Toast are all set to perform – at times together.

“I’ve really been looking forward to this event because I think it’s really important that we learn from those who have already learned,” said Sam Laramee. “Every song we play is at least 50 years old. To play them with musicians who lived through that time period would be really interesting, to hear the different interpretations.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing what Louise Rose brings to the table,” he added.

The well-known Victoria singer and composer will work with the kids and Monterey musicians to meld pieces they’ll perform together.

“This is bringing younger people together with older players,” said Chuck Howard, a trumpet player in the concert band. “It’s bringing generations together.”

While closing a multi-generational gap, they will raise funds for ArtsReach, a program that provides children with free fine arts workshops in the classroom.

“We provide free fine arts workshops in dual arts, theatre dance and now films to schools. We hire professional artists to do these workshops,” said Maureen Weston, president of OCTA Collective Society board that oversees ArtsREACH. “It gives the kids and the teachers a great opportunity to work with a professional.”

The program draws support from members of Oak Bay “who are passionate about arts education” through many functions such as the Colour Your Palate that tend to be labour intensive to organize.

“This collaboration with Monterey Centre … it’s a gift to us they are taking the lead,” Weston said.

WeJam, an evening of jazz is Jan. 31 from 5 to 9 p.m. at 1442 Monterey Ave. Tickets $20/$25 must be purchased in advance from reception and include a meal.