“The true beauty of music is that it connects people.” – Roy Ayers, American funk, soul and jazz composer
United continues to connect music to people by partnering with the Calgary Jazz Orchestra to expand the wide range of music available to residents of the two communities.
The Calgary Jazz Orchestra (CJO) began 14 years ago as the brainchild of jazz musician Johnny Summers. At the time, Calgary was lacking a jazz orchestra, so Johnny brought together two dozen of the best musicians. “These are world-class performers,” said Johnny. “We have all grown throughout the years and we are dedicated to giving Calgary the best musical experience with every concert we give.”
The Orchestra gives six concerts each year at the River Park Church in Marda Loop.
“United is one of our first partners,” said Lacie Marchand, CJO concert manager. “It’s a way to expand our audience and give residents a unique musical experience. I think people see jazz as mainly background music, but watching jazz performed live can be an involving, emotional experience.”
Johnny agrees, adding that attending one of their concerts is like going to an art gallery. “You see how the various artists in the gallery create an emotional attachment to the viewer. It’s the same attending one of our shows. Our musicians create emotion with sound. For the audience, a live performance offers an authentic, real experience that incorporates a range of emotions including humour and just plain fun!”
Johnny often rearranges popular music for the concerts into funk, soul and pop versions. For instance, Disney’s classics are reimagined as jazz pieces, and their annual Christmas show combines traditional Christmas music with a jazzy flare, with popular Frank Sinatra tunes.
“”We’re really looking forward to our partnership with the Calgary Jazz Orchestra,” said United’s music director Jill LaForty. “Music is important to our residents. We offer a wide variety of musical genres both in-house and at various music venues. CJO musicians will perform three concerts this year for United residents. The first will be at our Fish Creek community in September and feature Johnny on trumpet and Egor Ukoloff on piano. Afterwards, our residents will have a chance to mingle and talk one-on-one with the musicians. These types of performances are unique to United’s communities.”
“It really means a lot to me as a musician to play for an audience and watch their reactions,” said Johnny. “I watch their faces – their expressions, the laughter, the smiles. The applause is genuine and the excitement for us and for our audience is genuine. It’s why we do what we do.”
Photos by Calgary Jazz Orchestra
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To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.