Tom Ackerman and Joey Smith kick off the year of Jazz Vespers performances with a 7pm show Jan. 5 at ST. John’s United Church

New season of Jazz Vespers nears

Tom Ackerman and Joey Smith offer something a little different this holiday season

Tom Ackerman and Joey Smith kick off the New Year at Jazz Vespers at St. John’s United Church on Jan. 5. Audiences will have the rare chance to see Smith, not behind the upright bass, as he is known for in Victoria, but playing his first instrument: the guitar. Ackerman will join him on clarinet and saxophone. Ryan Tandy will play bass.

Ackerman was born in Hollywood and began tap dancing and playing the clarinet at age 6. He was at that time a member of a family Dixieland band considered the youngest and hottest Dixieland jazz band this side of the Mason-Dixon line, which led to an appearance on the famed Ted Mack Amateur Hour television show.

He moved to Hawaii in 1975, worked with several jazz bands and performed with some great artists including Sammy Davis, Jr., Joe Williams, and Julio Iglesias. A former student of Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass., Ackerman lived and worked in Washington D.C., and eventually became a bandleader for Princess Cruises for 10 years, where he met his Canadian bride, Sarah.

Ackerman now calls Victoria home and here has worked with the Ian McDougall Big Band, the Don Leppard Big Band, and is a regular member with CanUS and The Stomp Club.

After touring for two-and-half-years with the Glenn Miller Orchestra as bassist and arranger, Smith, originally from Tennessee, also ended up settling in Victoria with a Canadian bride.

Over the past two decades he has played with a long list of jazz luminaries which includes Cleo Laine, Herb Ellis, Rosemary Clooney, Charlie Byrd, John Dankworth, George Essihos, and Daniel Lapp. Smith has also appeared at numerous jazz dates in Canada and the U.S., including a performance at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  An in-demand bassist, and faculty member at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Smith performs regularly with the Marc Atkinson Trio, the Karel Roessingh Trio and the CanUS traditional jazz band, among others in town.

Homegrown Tandy rounds out the lineup, with skills he first picked up on bass at the jazz studies program at Esquimalt High. Since graduating in 2006, he has been in demand in Victoria and has appeared alongside such artists as Aurora Scott, Nick La Riviere, Roessingh, Maureen Washington and Kelby MacNayr.

Jazz Vespers services begin at 7pm at St. John’s United Church, 10990 West Saanich.  An offering will be taken to cover the cost of the musicians and the Vespers program, which continues Feb. 9 with The Victoria Chamber Jazz Quartet, returning to perform Claude Bolling’s Second Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio after the first suite was enthusiastically received at Jazz Vespers in June.

On March 2, vocalist/pianist Amy Nold will bring her trio to Vespers.

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