Singer Jack Semple to heat up the stage at Jazz at the Lake

Annual festival takes place this weekend

If there is one thing that Sylvan Lake’s Jazz at the Lake exemplifies, it’s top-notch musicianship.

Reflecting that notion is acclaimed artist Jack Semple, who is set to perform Aug. 17th in a ‘Blues Bash’ with the Jack Semple Band. The concert runs from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake Community Centre – admission is $25.

According to his web site, Semple grew up on a farm north of Regina.

“He started his musical career playing with various Regina-based bands, and later relocated to Toronto in the late 1980s to become the lead guitarist of The Lincolns, a popular funk and rhythm and blues band.”

He left after two years and returned to Regina to pursue a solo career and to spend more time with his family.

“After his move back to Regina, Semple contributed to television and music scores and appeared in the title role of Guitarman, a 1994 television movie. Semple also commenced a solo recording career that has resulted in the release of 10 albums.”

In 1992, he came to national prominence through winning the MuchMusic ‘Guitar Wars’ contest.

Semple has been twice nominated, in 1999 and 2000, for a Gemini Award for his soundtrack work on the television series Incredible Story Studio. He also won a Juno award in 1991 for best roots recording.

He has won two Western Canadian music awards for Qu’Appelle and In the Blue Light.

As to JATL’s history, this year marks the 15th year of the acclaimed festival.

It’s a great fit with the community, as, according to the JATL web site, “Sylvan Lake has a rich musical history, much greater in scope than its relatively small, but rapidly growing, population would seem to warrant.

“The legendary days of the Varsity Hall with its travelling Alberta and Canadian bands are warmly remembered by many in the community. The town has fostered some of the country’s best jazz artists. Two-time Juno Award winner P.J. Perry, one of the finest saxophonists in the country, hails from Sylvan Lake.”

Senator Tommy Banks, a world-class jazz musician, is also a well known source of pride to the area. International jazz recording artist Cheryl Fisher – who will also be performing at this year’s festival – claims her roots in Sylvan and has a home there still.

“The Jazz At The Lake Festival Society is made up of like-minded community spirited individuals from civic, business, and artistic enterprises that saw the need and the unique opportunity to create a jazz festival that would offer live music in a beautiful setting, and in so doing, positively add to the cultural landscape of Central Alberta.”

There are many artists to check out during the course of the event.

As mentioned, Fisher will be dazzling audiences on Aug. 19th at 8 p.m. at the Alliance Community Church.

Fisher, according to the JATL web site, is recognized as an international jazz performer who brings authenticity and vitality to every song she sings. “With six internationally acclaimed, nationally released CDs, Fisher is an Alberta Recording Industry Association award recipient.”

Her latest CD, Quietly There, has won a Global Music Award and was in contention for a Grammy nomination.

Jon Faddis performs in concert with the ‘100th Birthday Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie’ from 8 – 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 18th at the Stevenson Performing Arts Centre, H.J. Cody School. Admission is $35.

Faddis, who hails from Oakland California, quickly became known for his ability to closely mirror the sound of trumpet icon Dizzy Gillespie, who was his mentor along with Stan Kenton trumpeter Bill Catalano.

“However, Faddis had the ability to play controlled melodic lines in an even higher register than Dizzy,” notes the JATL web site.

“After playing with Charles Mingus and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band he became a noted studio musician in New York, appearing on many pop recordings in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“In the mid-eighties, he left the studios to continue to pursue his solo career, which resulted in albums like Legacy, Into The Faddisphere and Hornucopia.”

Another highlight of the JATL is the ‘Swing Dance with the Johnny Summers Little Big Band’ from 2 – 5 p.m. in the Seniors Centre in the NexSource Centre (4823 – 48th Ave). Admission for adults is $25, for children 12 and under it’s $10.

According the JATL web site, “At the age of 11, Johnny Summers sat in his bedroom, listening for the first time to Harry Connick Jr.’s Blue Light, Red Light album.

”He immediately began seeking out the best teachers he could, wherever he could. His dynamic talent as a vocalist, trumpet player, arranger and composer was born out of a true passion to exceed the status quo at every turn.

“Johnny has intentionally filled his life with top professionals in numerous disciplines and continues to be inspired by many he has met along the way, from the incomparable Wynton Marsalis to the core members of Harry Connick Jr.’s band.

“With unparalleled influences like Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, it comes as no surprise that he has something to offer everyone in the room. His musical abilities are accented by his natural capacity to bring wit, soul and laughter to every show.”

For complete details about the schedule for this year’s JATL festival, check out www.jazzatthelake.com.

– Weber