Jazz Group Way North will perform at McTavish Academy of Art from their latest album Kings County.
The group explores folk music through improvising and the audience won’t just be hearing jazz. They will hear a mix of jazz with folk underlying the tunes they write and the way they play the music.
“We use a lot of interplay and playing together, a lot of that influenced by New Orleans, as well as modern jazz and Balkan music and brazilian music and calypso and the blues,” said bass player Michael Herring, adding that they use jazz and improvising as a way to tie it all together.
He and his wife Rebecca Hennessy, who plays the trumpet in the group, had grants from the Ontario Arts Council to go to New York in 2013.
They then spent some time with friends there, including Petr Cancura, the band’s saxophone and clarinet player, who was living in New York at the time. Through Cancura they then met his friend Richie Barshay who plays the drums. They started playing together and the rest is history.
HErring and Hennessy are currently in Toronto, but are originally from Vancouver Island.
Herring said performing in North Saanich is definitely like coming home.
“About once a year we’ve been getting together to do a project and mostly it’s been touring around Ontario and Quebec, that kind of thing. And this year it’s our most ambitious project and we’re doing Western Canada (with) Saskatchewan, Alberta and some B.C. dates.”
They will be touring their most recent album Kings County.
“We decided to make this recording to document our time working together, and then it came out so well, we decided to put it out.”
His wife wrote a song called Kings County Sheriff as a joke about the county, as it sounded like a place that would have a sherif. The name Kings County was soon the title of the album, as the band was called Way North, fusing the feeling of being in New York City, as well as the connection to going north to Canada.
Members of Way North don’t just play in the one band, as the group is something they do once a year when they can all get together in one place at one time.
“We all earn our livings as freelance musicians, so we all do lots of other things like playing in other people’s bands and all kinds of things to be able to earn a living,” said Herring.
One of the big moments for Herring was last year when they got to play at the Panama Jazz Festival.
The Festival is run by a famous Panamanian piano player by the name of Danilo Pérez.
“Part of Danilo’s thing is running a foundation to help underprivileged kids learn music so we got to teach a lot of workshops to kids,” said Herring.
Way North also got to do some big performances while there, including playing on their big outdoor stage on their final big festival.
Way North will be at McTavish Academy Feb. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. For tickets call 778-351-0088.