For one night only, at the First Unitarian Church of Victoria, Saanich is going to feel like the Big Easy.
On Sunday, the Dixieland Express will be performing, as part of the church’s Fall Jazz Vespers Series, for a night titled Spirited Jazz, a collaboration between jazz musician Gary Theal and Rev. Shana Lynngood. The monthly event weaves inspirational words from many traditions, philosophies and literatures with New Orleans hot jazz.
This month’s show falls just a week after All Souls’ Day or All Saints’ Day – a day commemorating the faithful departed – and just a few days before Remembrance Day. That timing led to the evening’s theme of “When the Saints go Marching In,” said Lynngood.
“I thought, this is a rich time of people reflecting on the saints and the souls and their lives that have been meaningful, and the first song that came to mind was When the Saints go Marching In,” she said.
“I’ve always really admired the New Orleans style of both celebrating life and mourning life at the same time in their memorial services. Dixieland Express, thankfully, was willing to join us in that.”
According to Lynngood, this will be the eighth or ninth time the church has hosted a southern-style jazz band, made up of Norrie MacFarlane on trumpet, clarinetist and saxophonist Al Pease, pianist Tom Vickery, bassist Don Cox and drummer Anita Bonkowski.
“It’s kind of a very early form of jazz,” said Lynngood. “Part of what I love about Dixieland is the interplay of all the different instruments together. I think Dixieland has a special texture to it, the way the instruments come together and kind of accent each other. It’s not a style that people necessarily hear that often.”
The night will feature a mix of spiritual tunes like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Amazing Grace, and a greatest hits of Dixieland jazz like When You’re Smiling and Wrap Up Your Troubles. Lynngood will provide a short lesson about the music, with a time for reflection in the middle of the show.
“I actually might do a little singing myself, which isn’t something that always happens,” said Lynngood.
“If people are curious to see the singing minister, they may get a little chance at that.”
Spirited Jazz starts at 7 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Victoria, 5575 West Saanich Rd. Admission by donation to the church. For more information, visit victoriaunitarian.ca.