The Vancouver International Jazz Festival grew out of a local jazz scene that centred on Vancouver Co-op Radio (CFRO-FM 102.7 FM), a community radio station, in the early 1980s. The Pacific Jazz and Blues Association was formed in 1984 and hosted the Pacific Jazz and Blues Festival, which showcased regional jazz and blues artists in addition to some international jazz musicians. By 1986, the group had changed its name to the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, secured corporate sponsorship, and partnered with Expo 86 to produce the first annual Vancouver International Jazz Festival. The inaugural festival included performances by Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Tito Puente, Tony Williams, Albert Collins, and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.
The jazz festival has been held every year since, becoming the largest such festival in British Columbia. Over 1000 volunteers help in producing the event, which includes performances in parks, community centres, concert halls, clubs, public plazas, and in streets of various neighbourhoods. In total, the festival includes 400 individual performances, including 130 free concerts, and it draws 460,000 people each year.
The story of Coastal Jazz and Blues Society is the story of determination, passion, idealism, community, and of course, music. Founded in 1985 and incorporated in 1986, as a community based, not-for-profit, charitable arts organization located in Vancouver, British Columbia, the society, from the very beginning, has worked diligently to establish Vancouver as a centre for the creation and exchange of sounds and ideas between the local, national and international music communities.
Our mission is to not only increase the appreciation of the music, but to strengthen the arts community by developing special projects, artistic exchanges, partnerships, educational initiatives, community programs, and collaborations that further the art form. Our vision encompasses a wide spectrum of jazz, blues, world, creative, and improvised music, including evolving forms of jazz and the technologies and media that influence jazz as an art form.
Today, the Society ranks as BC’s largest music presenter producing the annual TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Music Series at the Winterruption Festival on Granville Island, the Bright Moments Series, and several year-round concerts at Frankie’s Jazz Club. Along with music presentation, the Society also has a long standing commitment to music education, presenting the TD High School Jazz Intensive Program exclusively for high school students, the Sounds of Youth performance stage, regular workshops by local visiting international artists, children’s music programs, and more.
The Society is also a significant part of Vancouver and BC’s economic engine and tourism industry, attracting over half a million people to the annual jazz festival and generating over $35 million in economic activity.
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