Baritone Madness jazzes things up at Hermann’s

Saanich band teacher takes stage May 13 at Hermann's Jazz Club

Jonnie Bridgman

Jonnie Bridgman wasn’t always a baritone sax man.

“I played alto when I first started in Grade 7, and partway through that first year, my sax was stolen,” he recalled. “My band teacher said, ‘Well, we need a bari player for our jazz band next year.’

“It was kind of a blessing in disguise. I ended up playing the bari all through high school and into university – it’s the instrument that I kind of fell in love with.”

Bridgman, now a band teacher at Royal Oak middle school, is putting his years of musical experience into Baritone Madness, an evening of saxophone tunes spanning jazz, classical, R&B and funk, May 13 at Hermann’s Jazz Club. The concert will feature a number of originals written by Bridgman, as well as renditions of popular jazz songs by such legends as Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams, Harry Carnie and Ronnie Cuber.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile, to dive into my favourite bari sax players and play some of their music,” said Bridgman. “It’s an instrument that I really love, and Hermann’s is a great place to do that.

“We’re kind of tapping into different players from different periods and different styles – you’ll see a variety of music. There’s lots of uptempo bebop tunes and some kind of funky stuff.”

Joining Bridgman onstage will be pianist Andy Slade, bassist Ross MacDonald and drummer Kelby MacNayr, forming something of a one-night supergroup for the concert.

“Andy and I actually met in university when I went to UVic,” said Bridgman. “My teacher, knowing that I had some jazz background, paired me up with Andy to work on a piece that kind of melds the two worlds – it was kind of a jazz-influenced classical piece.”

In preparation for Baritone Madness, Bridgman said he and Slade brainstormed before selecting MacDonald and MacNayr for the rhythm section.

“We’ve worked with them before and they’re just great players,” said Bridgman.”

In addition to the music, Bridgman said he hopes to give some historical background to the pieces they’ve selected and maybe have a few surprises.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to tell a few stories about these performers and have a few guests sit in on a couple tunes,” he said.

The show starts Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m., with doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance at Larsen Music (1808 Cook St.) and $18 at the door.


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