Two years ago, Jonnie Bridgman found himself completely immersed in the birth place of jazz.
Bridgman, a saxophonist, was on a 10-day trip with vocalist Shanna Dance in New Orleans, where they spent hourslistening to jazz music, from the moment they woke up to when they went to sleep. Everywhere they went, the duo waslured by the sound of jazz that would flow out of the doorways of clubs or from brass bands playing on the street.
The culture, Bridgman said, is incredibly inspiring.
“It was our chance to soak it in, in a place where it’s so much a part of their culture and day-to- day life,” said the 31-year-old Greater Victoria resident. “(Jazz) is something that everybody hears or does everyday. You wake up hearing it.”
Now, Bridgman and Dance are taking what they learned in New Orleans and bringing those sounds to Victoria, alongsideother local musicians, during a concert at Hermann’s Jazz Club this weekend. The Back to New Orleans! concert will featurea wide range of music from Dixieland to soulful R&B and funk. Jazz lovers will also hear the music of Louis Armstrong, FatsDomino, John Boutte, Jon Cleary and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Bridgman’s passion for jazz was sparked 18 years ago, when he was in middle school and decided to play an instrument inthe school’s jazz band, like his older brother had done. On a whim, he chose the saxophone and he hasn’t stopped playingsince.
While he continued to play through grade school, it wasn’t until he graduated that Bridgman decided to pursue musicprofessionally in post-secondary at Malaspina University-College, which is now Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. Healso took private lessons where his teacher taught him the history of jazz, playing standard jazz tunes and how toimprovise.
For Bridgman, the idea of improvisation is what drew him to the style of music.
“It’s always interested me. There’s a lot of freedom in jazz music and not many rules to stick to. There’s a lot of freedom,you can explore various styles of music and it extends to other music I play,” said Bridgman, adding he hopes after theweekend people will be inspired to go to New Orleans and gain an appreciation of the different styles of music that havecome from jazz’s first city.
The Jonnie 5 Brass Band, one of Victoria’s first New Orleans-style brass bands, will also perform at the concert. Back to NewOrleans! takes place on Saturday, April 8 beginning at 8 p.m. at Hermann’s Jazz Club (753 View St). Tickets are available atLyle’s Place and are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Reservations can also be made online at hermannsjazz.com.