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Langley jazz and art fest spotlights talent at free Sunday youth concerts

Leading up to the festival in July, concert series features diverse musical styles
Music fans filled the front lawn of the community hall in Fort Langleyon day 3 of the Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival in July 2023. (Langley Advance Times files)

The historic CN Train Station in Fort Langley is a popular place on a nice summer day but will be much busier with young performers who are part of the Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival.

The festival’s youth showcase series run Sundays at 1 p.m. between May 26 and July 14, while the Rising Star award winners perform for the public at July shows.

“The Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival is committed to creating spaces for local youth to showcase their talent, connect with new fans, and advance their skills in jazz,” said Dave Quinn, Festival artistic director and co-founder. “Through this music series, we’re creating a platform for young and emerging jazz musicians to shine.”

The festival will kick off a new eight-week summer youth jazz series with a concert by the Langley Fine Arts School junior and senior jazz ensembles.

The concerts are free and will include art exhibits showcasing the work of local artists and guided tours of the restored CNR train station that dates back to 1915.

“Jazz and local heritage make for a perfect combo,” said Mark Forsythe, vice-president of the Langley Heritage Society. “The Langley Heritage Society is excited to co-host this special youth concert series at the CNR Station where you can listen to great jazz tunes from tomorrow’s stars, and explore our historic station, rail cars, and relax in the heritage gardens.”

The concert series is presented by Fort Langley resident through the Tony Quo Vadis Foundation, in partnership with the Langley Heritage Society.

“As a long-time Fort Langley resident and massive music fan, I am excited to provide support for musicians of the future at such a great Fort Langley venue,” said Quo Vadis.

The June 2 concert features the Max Holmes Quartet. Holmes is a rising star in the Canadian jazz scene, known for his prowess as a pianist and composer. He is currently a senior and music major at Langley Fine Arts School.

The SMURF Quartet is from Richmond and performs June 9. The members take inspiration from the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Wynton Marsalis.

On June 16, the performer is Ben Wayne Kyle Trio, a guitar player, composer and singer based in Vancouver. The trio plays across a variety of genres including jazz, funk, folk and rock, and are currently writing and recording their first album of original music.

James Vickers performs June 23. The 14-year-old blues prodigy was influenced initially by rocker Angus Young, but he soon graduated to the sound of Stevie Ray Vaughan. In January 2024, James showcased his talent at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., competing in the youth category.

On June 30, the Jazz Orchestra of the 49th Parallel (JO49) performs. It is the newest big band in the Lower Mainland, featuring students, music teachers, and other players residing south of the Fraser River or in the Fraser Valley. The ensemble comprises 17 musicians, offering a contemporary instrumental big-band experience.

Ruthie Ha is a tenor saxophonist and a third-year student in the jazz program at Capilano University. Her July 7 show will include standards as well as original works.

Taking the stage July 14 is Trading Fours. The Vancouver-based jazz quartet is comprised of accomplished young musicians, having performed in honours ensembles at the provincial and national levels, such as BC Music Educators Association Honour Jazz Ensemble, the Conn-Selmer Centerstage Jazz Band, and the York University National Youth Jazz Combo.

More information about each of the Youth Showcase Series performers is available here

Stars rising

The festival has been championing youth initiatives since its inaugural event in 2018 including the annual Rising Star Jazz Awards.

This year’s award winners are 17-year-old violinist, guitarist, and upright bassist from Vancouver Technical Secondary Music Program, Jaiden Christie in the secondary school category and Steven Rutherford, a 19-year-old drummer and percussionist majoring in Music at Trinity Western University in the post-secondary category.

Both will have the opportunity to take the stage at the festival and receive a $1,000 scholarship, sponsored by Coast Capital and the Fort Langley Community Improvement Society.

Christie will play at this year’s festival on Saturday, July 27, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., on the Rising Spirit Stage located in front of the Fort Langley Community Hall.

“I’m a big fan of the Fort Langley Jazz Festival and more than honoured to have been recognized in this way,” Christie said. ”Free public music festivals got me hooked on learning music in the first place and have played a big part in shaping who I am as a musician. Things have come full circle. I’m over the moon!”

Rutherford on Sunday, July 28 from noon to 12:30 p.m.

“My main goals with performing are to expand, promote, and grow ‘The Ol’ Jazz Factory’ band to possibly play outside of our local area,” said Rutherford. “I see myself having a career within jazz music, possibly as a composer, bandleader, and professional musician.”

The Youth Showcase Series is the precursor to the Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival, July 25 to 28 – with highlights including:

• Thursday, July 25: Tribute to Duke Ellington Big Band Concert with the Fred Stride Jazz Orchestra,

• Friday, July 26: The Cool Blues Show. Some of the biggest names in blues music will be featured, including Tom Lavin & The Legendary Powder Blues Band; Rick Estrin & The Nightcats; Miss Emily; Silent Partners, in a tribute to B.B. King; and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne

• Saturday, July 27: Jake and Elwood’s Blues Brother Revue. Fans of the Blues Brothers may want to catch this showband with dance routines, top-notch vocals, and hilarious skits.

• Sunday, July 28: Jazz AWE finale. Jazz AWE (Alternative Worship Experience) with the Maureen Washington Quartet will take place at the United Churches of Langley - St. Andrew’s Chapel, providing a musical twist to the Sunday church experience in which live jazz music is woven into readings, reflection, and conversations. Admission is by donation and the event starts at 4:30 p.m. Registration is required due to limited seating.

Tickets are available at

The festival on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 features a free lineup of diverse performances and activities.

The free festival will kick off with the traditional Mardi Gras Strolling Parade led by RazzMaJazz Ensemble on Saturday, July 27 from 9:30 to 10 a.m. An incredible line-up of free performances will then take place on two outdoor stages in front of the Fort Langley Community Hall on both days along with free art, music and Indigenous cultural workshops.

The Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival is a not-for-profit cultural organization that makes accessible the highest caliber of jazz music and arts programming to a wide variety of audiences through the presentation of year-round concerts and events and an annual music and arts festival.


• READ MORE: Painter helps put the art in the Fort’s Jazz and Art Festival

• READ MORE: The 2023 festival


Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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