New year, new push for permanent jazz café in Kelowna
Nary an artist in the world wants to quash the creative fires within—most living in fear of the mere possibility.
Nevertheless, jazz singer Anna Jacyszyn says she's very thankful the Lunar New Year heralds the Year of the Water Dragon in 2012 with the critical water symbol present to damper the dragon's fiery, creative spirit.
"The fire is watered down by the symbol of the water," she explained. "(Without it) everything you achieve this year would have been lost the next because you would have become too greedy.
"So if you've got any type of new venture or new things you want to try, this is the year to do it because positive things will happen, but the water will help us sustain what we've achieved through its cooling and calming properties."
Jacyszyn has a pretty clear understanding of how the Chinese zodiac works after spending near four years in the country, primarily on a residency with the JZ Club, living and working in Shanghai.
The next two years are very critical to her overall vision for her next phase of life in the Okanagan and the zodiac has her right on schedule.
Returning home to family in Kelowna, Jacyszyn had big dreams of building a speakeasy style jazz club in her hometown to showcase what she had learned overseas where she fell into a thriving Chinese jazz scene.
"A lot of musicians were going to the Berkley School of Music and were coming back to China really well schooled in the jazz tradition," she said.
Being young, blond and beautiful, Jacyszyn herself was an easy recruit, offered a hotel chain contract to get her start and quickly seconded to the clubs to work with talent from New Zealand, New York, Europe and beyond.
"We were starting bands and using the Chinese instruments with the Western instruments… I was out there working a French manouche band with a Chinese pipa mixed in, just having fun with jazz," she recalled.
Upon her return, she began treating Okanagan residents to a monthly jazz club with a house band internationally versed in this complex genre and guests who drop in from around the world. The audience, largely members who pay yearly for tickets to the fall, winter and spring shows, have developed their own musical repertoire ranging from the gypsy jazz waltzs of the manouche to Chicago, swing and ragtime.
But Jacyszyn has always envisioned more.
Now in the third year of her five-year scheme to open her own venue, she's starting business plans for a permanent home for the live entertainment and traditional jazz fare—like her famous gin in tea cups.
"We're looking for spots right now and have some finances, I just have to get my business mind on to pinpoint it because I keep thinking about what it's going to look like instead," she laughed.
If all goes according to schedule, the big build year should be this year and she'll use a little of those calming water affects in the zodiac to pull her into 2013 when the club comes to fruition.
In the meantime, she's returning to the place that inspired it all this month with a Chinese New Year's Eve celebration on her monthly Jazz Café night, complete with the songs and a taste of the food that makes the 15-day festival.
"Everything is about wealth or food for Chinese New Year. So you throw the noodles into the air to stir in wealth and prosperity and there's nuts and dumplings and everything, even the food, is golden."
This week her band was practicing Ni Wen Wo Ai Ni You Duo Shen, When My Heart Represents the Moon, a traditional Chinese pop song sung at New Years. That's not an oxymoron, she claims; "pop" songs are simply popular songs in China—nothing to do with rock-and-roll and glitz and glamour so the jazz influence still reins.
Jazz Café (www.jazzcafekelowna.com) is held in the Black Box Theatre in the back of the Kelowna Community Theatre on Jan. 22, and the 23rd of Feb., Mar. and April.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $25, call (250) 763-6141 or contact fabulousPR@gmail.com. The new season begins in May.