Winnipeg-raised drummer Curtis Nowosad leads his quartet to the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.

Winnipeg-raised drummer Curtis Nowosad leads his quartet to the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.

Manitoba jazz masters mix it up

Drummer Curtis Nowosad covers some sacred ground – MJ, Tupac, Monk and Marley – when he leads his band to the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.

The Vernon Jazz Club will be heating up as Curtis Nowosad takes the stage Saturday night.

The band will be playing groove tunes such as The Way You Make Me Feel (Michael Jackson), Three Little Birds (Bob Marley), Welcome to the Machine (Pink Floyd), and California Love (2Pac), some originals, as well as standards by jazz legends Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter.

“My music is rooted in the legacy of all of our jazz forefathers and mothers, but my music is also inspired and influenced by many other artists and disciplines, such as R&B, hip hop, Afro-Cuban, rock, reggae, etc.,” said Nowosad. “Most importantly, no matter what kind of music we are playing, it always feels good, with a strong melody and dancing rhythm. The goal is to lift the music and to bring everyone in the audience along with us.”

Joining Nowosad will be Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Will Bonness on piano, and Steve Kirby on bass.

In the midst of their Western Canada tour, which started off in Edmonton, the band will be performing at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, where they will be joined by tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene. From there they will head into the studio to record Nowosad’s second album and then will jet off to take the stage at the Ottawa and Montreal Jazz Festivals.

Originally from Winnipeg, Nowosad now lives and performs in New York. He has played with world-class jazz musicians Stefon Harris, Miguel Zenon, and George Colligan to name but a few and recently recorded with pianist Kenny Barron and performed at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam as a recipient of the Keep an Eye on Jazz award. His newly released debut album, the skeptic & the cynic, spent two weeks at #1 on the !earshot Canadian Jazz Charts.

Joining Nowosad is Gardner, who made his mark on the New York jazz scene when he moved there in 1991. Since then he has toured with The Count Basie Orchestra, Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Band, Harry Connick Jr.’s Big Band, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and Swiss tenor player Roman Schwaller’s European Sextet. He has also performed with the late Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Nancy Wilson, and Tony Bennett.

Gardner’s own sextet, The Jazz Prophets, was formed in 1991. Their most recent release, Echoes of Ethnicity, was heralded with rave reviews and was awarded Best Jazz Album of the Year by the Independent Music Awards.

At 17, Bonness joined Maynard Ferguson’s Bip Bop Nouveau Band for a year-long world tour performing at venues such as the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. After completing his music degree at the University of Manitoba he travelled to New York and Boston to continue his studies.

He is currently an assistant professor of jazz piano at UofM.

Kirby relocated from New York to Winnipeg in the early 2000s. He has recorded and toured with some of the biggest names in jazz including Elvin Jones, Wynton Marsalis, and Cyrus Chestnut. His most recent album, Stepchild, features the UofM jazz faculty known as The Northern Prairie Jazz Collective.

Kirby acts not only as the director of jazz studies at UofM, but is also the director of the university’s summer jazz camp, artistic director of the Izzy Asper Jazz Performance Series, editor of dig! Magazine and the creator of The Bridge Program, an inner-city music outreach initiative.

Opening for Nowosad will be Mica Lemiski, who is a singer-songwriter and pianist from Vernon. Lemiski has lived and performed in Montreal where she was a member of the a cappella group Soulstice A Cappella. She has most recently received her degree in creative writing and English from Western University.

Lemiski takes the stage at 6:45 p.m. followed by Nowosad at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the Bean Scene, Bean to Cup and at



Vernon Morning Star