When Michael Perkins first moved to Squamish a few years ago, he was a big band guy… who didn’t have a big band.
“I’d been involved in music for a long time,” he said, “but when I moved here I was interested in playing big band-style music and there wasn’t anything like that around.”
In time, Perkins met other locals — musicians and music teachers — who were looking for the same thing, and the Sea ‘T’ Sky Big Band was born.
“We’re now in our third year,” said Perkins, the band’s director. “It’s hard to believe.”
The community collective — comprising 17 players who range in age from 18 to 80 — play a diverse variety of musical styles from ’40s swing to funk, soul and beyond.
“There are a lot of talented players in Squamish,” he said.
Perkins’ roster of talent, and the size of his big band, get… well, bigger, on Friday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. at the Eagle Eye Theatre, when The Sea ‘T’ Sky Big Band joins the North Shore’s Higher Ground Women’s Ensemble for a show called It’s All About Jazz.
Higher Ground is a group that performs choral music from the past 800 years, but specializes in contemporary composers and a vocal jazz repertoire.
“There are 35-40 voices in the ensemble,” Perkins said. “I’m friends with Janet Warren (the ensemble’s director) and she’s a superb vocalist. Since we were both in community musical groups, we decided it would be a great idea to work together and bring both groups together for concerts.”
In addition to the show on Nov. 15, the groups join forces again on Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. for a concert in North Vancouver.
“We’re doing one show here for us, and then one show on the North Shore for their group,” Perkins said. “The show will be three sets, one after the other. We will do a set of about five songs, then the women’s ensemble will do a set of about five songs. Then we will all come out together for a finale of about five or six songs, depending on timing. It will be all in a row… no intermission.”
Perkins said the two directors have done a lot of research to ensure the songs for It’s All About Jazz work for both groups and play to their strengths. But although the groups have been rehearsing a lot individually, the whole bigger, big-band-with-choral-vocals won’t test out the tunes as a whole until just before the curtain goes up.
“We’ve all be working very hard and rehearsing a lot,” he said. “But we won’t be getting the two groups together to rehearse together until the Friday of the show. But I have the utmost confidence in the abilities of both groups. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Tickets for the Howe Sound Performing Arts Association (HSPAA) presentation of It’s All About Jazz cost $15 and are available at Billie’s Flower House. For more info on the concert, go to howesoundarts.org.