The Vancouver Jazz Orchestra launch at Pyatt Hall

And five Ellington tunes I loved from the setlist

Vancouver Jazz Orchestra at Pyatt Hall
The Vancouver Jazz Orchestra. Pictured: Sharon Minemoto (piano), Conrad Good (bass), background: Jocelyn Waugh & Derry Byrne (trumpets); Brian Harding (trombone); Steve Kaldestad, Ingrid Stitt, James Danderfer, & Ardeshir Pourkeramati (saxophones)

Launching a new big band for free

Cory Weeds and James Danderfer co-led the Vancouver Jazz Orchestra (VJO) – which is a new big band – through a one-set show at Pyatt Hall on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

The admissions were free of charge; the room was full. According to Cory, VJO will play three or four more times over the next year-ish – with real ticket prices! – after proving they could draw 100-to-120 people to start. The band used sponsorship revenue and in-kind contributions to put together this free show.

Cory took the emcee duties, while James focused on the band and its arrangements. The setlist featured Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Vancouver Jazz Orchestra: big band lineup

  • Saxophones: James Danderfer (alto 1), Ingrid Stitt (alto 2), Steve Kaldestad (tenor 1), Ardeshir Pourkeramati (tenor 2), Cory Weeds (baritone)
  • Trumpets: Derry Byrne (lead), Jocelyn Waugh (second), Geeta Das (third), Thad Bailey-Mai (fourth) – I couldn't think of a more perfectly-balanced trumpet section in the city, bravo!
  • Trombones: Brad Shigeta (lead), Brian Harding (second), Ellen Marple (third)
  • Rhythm: Sharon Minemoto (piano), Conrad Good (bass), Jesse Cahill (drums)

VJO intends to not have a fixed lineup, instead rotating many of the city's finest musicians and younger talents.


My top five picks from the setlist; links to YouTube or Spotify so you can check out the music...