Salmon Arm's Jazz Club began to take shape in 2009, when local musicians Jacob Verburg, Darrin Herting and Leon Power began looking for a place to place to jam with other local musicians. The Salmon Arm Arts Centre decided to give these young players space at the SAGA Public Art Gallery. Jake, Darrin and Leon took that opportunity to organize a show every Thursday night, from September through June. Over time, a wide variety of players and singers were heard – not always jazz but typically with a strong improvisational flavour.
The audience began to grow but at the end of the second year, Jake was ready for a break and Leon moved east. Enter Brian Pratt-Johnson and Sandy Cameron, both music teachers and skilled players with great passion for jazz. It became clear that the weekly show schedule was too difficult to maintain and so the schedule was reduced to every second Thursday. Previously, Jake and Leon had invited a few jazz players from Kelowna to participate, and Brian and Sandy did similarly. They also began to include players from Kamloops and Vernon. Things were expanding and the Jazz Club was well underway.
After a year, Brian needed a break to devote more time to work and family, and Sandy began to direct the Jazz Night schedules on his own. From the Club's outset, admission to these shows was by donation, and a fund raising initiative was undertaken in 2011 to provide additional financial support. Work began on a mini-festival spearheaded by Sandy, featuring both local and internationally acclaimed musicians. This led to 10 shows during the spring of 2012, as well as 9 shows that fall. A similar approach was undertaken in 2013, when a total of 14 shows were held between January and June.
Sadly, Sandy decided to move to Victoria in late 2013. With his departure the Club was left with a void and hard act to follow! Fortunately, jazz guitarist Jordan Dick came to the rescue and took on the role of lining up the Jazz Club shows. As of this update, Jordan is now in his 5th year as the club's show organizer and key contact, and has maintained a twice monthly performance schedule running annually from September through June. Well done, Jordan!
Another noteworthy bit of history concerns the Jazz Club show venue. With growing audiences, the SAGA Public Art Gallery became too small to host these events. The decision was made to move the shows to the Shuswap Chefs restaurant banquet room in 2014, where performances were held for about 2 years. The closure of that restaurant in 2016 led to the club's current agreement to host our events at the auditorium at The Nexus at First.
This history of the Club may be missing important details. If you have anything to add, please contact us.