Joe Coughlin is considered by many to be the greatest jazz vocalist Canada has ever produced, one of the world’s best at the improvisational art. He is performing with a very special, all-Canadian all-star band at The Oaks Saturday, April 18 in support of the Community Association of Oak Bay’s Sno’uyuuth Pole Project.
Funds from the concert will help raise the 20-foot welcome pole designed by Songhees master artist Butch Dick and carved by his son Clarence Dick.
Coughlin began his career in a heavy metal band in the ‘70s, but switched to singing jazz standards after winning Canada’s Search For The Stars in 1979. He released his eponymously titled debut featuring Canadian jazz stars Ed Bickert, Terry Clarke, Bernie Senensky and Don Thompson in 1981, followed in 1984 by Second Debut.
From 1988-1993 Coughlin was a television anchor and reporter on CTV and CBC. He moved to Victoria from Toronto in 1995, released Third Ascension and performed the first of 13 consecutive annual concerts at the Victoria International Jazz Festival.
He released Simple Pleasures in 1999 and won Jazz Report’s award for Male Vocalist of the Year, released Things Turn Out That Way in 2007 and won the National Jazz Award the next year and again in 2009 after releasing his sixth recording, Lowdown West Broadway.
In 2011 Coughlin released a best-of collection titled Slow and Slower and performed a career-celebrating 30th anniversary concert with the Windsor Symphony, his hometown. In 2014 Coughlin released Saloon Standard, a tribute to Bill Evans and Tony Bennett.
Asked to name some of his career highlights, Coughlin recalls “playing with Woody Hermann and opening and hanging with Dizzie Gillespie.”
As a passionate advocate for equal rights, Coughlin launched an important employment initiative for people with disabilities. He describes his current health as “stable” and his current status as “semi-retired, but don’t want to be.”
He’s still going strong, as fans will hear at his upcoming concert at The Oaks. Coughlin is a national treasure, a great musician and a very cool cat. He embodies the spirit of jazz. He’s the real deal.
Tickets for Jazz at The Oaks April 18 at 7 p.m. are $20 in advance at The Oaks, or $25 at the door. Call 250-590-3155 for more information. Donations to the Sno’uyuuth pole project of $50 or more can receive a tax-deductible receipt by making the cheque payable to The Rotary Club of Oak Bay Foundation and mailed to the Community Association of Oak Bay, 138-2017 Cadboro Bay Rd. Victoria, B.C., V8R 5G4.