John Baker heads up the 4th Street Jazz Project during a show at Benoit’s Wine Bar last Tuesday.

4th Street Jazz Project taking on Main Street

The 4th Street Jazz Project plays the Summer Music Fest in Grizzly Plaza on Friday, Aug. 31, at 6:30 p.m.

It’s a quiet Tuesday night at Benoit’s Wine Bar. At the bar, a couple seems to be enjoying a date, while on stage the musicians of the 4th Street Jazz Project are getting set up.

In the corner I find John Baker sitting on the couch. As the band’s leader, I was there to ask him what the band was about.

But bassist Michael Liggins decided to chime in first. “We were all born as poor black children and we all changed to white as we grew,” he said. “We were all educated at Brown University.”

“Brown? That’s a women’s university!” replied Baker.

“That’s why we went there,” said Mike.

OK. Now for the real story.

The 4th Street Jazz Project was formed just over two years ago by a group of local musicians who were looking for an outlet to play music in a small-band format. The band consists of Baker on guitar, Liggins on bass, Cathy Cameron-Suchy on trumpet, Carl Laurence on trombone, Sylvain Hebert on saxophone, and, on this night, Steve Earle on percussion (no, not that Steve Earle).

They had played together in various bands such as the Swing Monkeys and for community musicals and had been talking about doing something smaller together for a while, said Baker. After playing together for the community musical Chicago, they decided the time was right.

“The whole musical scene was opening up here and there were more opportunities available and this is what we wanted to do,” said Baker. “We talked about for a long time and we decided we wanted to do it.”

The band’s first show was open mic night at the Last Drop. Baker wrote out chord charts for three songs and off they went. “We didn’t get booed so we decided to keep doing it.”

They played a second time at open mic night. Keep in mind, this was the winter of 2009-10, where open mic night was attracting a packed house of rowdy skiers and it wasn’t uncommon to see people crowd-surfing.

“The second time was so frightening we’ve never been back. It was amazing,” said Baker.  “They had 400 people in there, it was wall to wall. It was pretty crazy.”

The goal of the 4th Street Jazz Project from the start was to play traditional jazz, though they’ve added some Latin music as well. The philosophy is to “bring jazz to people because it’s a little different.

“We wanted to have the band where you could sit and talk across the table and understand each other. We didn’t want to be loud and intrusive,” said Baker. “There’s lots of music in town but we’re a little different because we’re a horn-based band rather than a vocal or guitar-based band.”

Baker himself is an accomplished musician. He started playing guitar at the age of nine and was playing jazz at 15. He attended music school at the University of Toronto, University of Victoria and the University of Eastern Washington; and his abilities have taken him around the world. In 1978 he moved to Revelstoke where he took up the post as the school’s band teacher.

I asked him what he liked about playing in the 4th Street Jazz Project. He cited the quality of the musicians he played with.

“They’re all multi-instrumentalist, which means they each play at least three instruments,” he said, before running through what everyone could play (a list that’s too long for this article).

“The musicality and the musicianship in this group is outstanding.”

The band has played at a variety of venues in Revelstoke, ranging from the aforementioned Last Drop, private parties, street festivals, weddings and more; but Benoit’s is their favourite spot to play. “For us it’s a very good place to play, a very intimate room.”

The band is planning to record this fall and is contemplating a Christmas CD that would be sold to raise money for the food bank. Next summer it is looking to play some jazz festivals, such as the ones in Kaslo and Penticton.

“People like jazz,” said Baker. “A lot of people are afraid of it because they think it’s going to be manic and squirly and 20-minute solos. We don’t do that. We try to accommodate the listener as much as we can.”

The 4th Street Jazz Project plays the Summer Music Fest in Grizzly Plaza on Friday, Aug. 31, at 6:30 p.m. Look for them at various venues around town in the coming months.


Just Posted

Revelstoke cadets host 67th annual Ceremonial Review

Revelstoke’s 2458 Rocky Mountain Ranger Army Cadets hosted their 67th annual Ceremonial… Continue reading

Construction and wildfires in the area

Forecast from Environment Canada: Today: A few showers ending this morning then… Continue reading

Revelstoke artist receives second place in Kelowna juried art show

Danielle Hebert Special to the Review Revelstoke artist Peter Blackmore has been… Continue reading

Revelstoke city staff hope to create neighbourhood plan for Johnson Heights

There have been several development applications for the area

Jocelyn’s Jottings: Making an impact-collectively

Last week, I participated in the Collective Impact session hosted by the… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

RCMP Emergency Response team swarms Kelowna home

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read