Musicians age to perfection with jazz keeping their rhythm

Friends for over 50 years, it is no wonder why these Okanagan musicians playing Penticton jazz fest make beautiful music together.

aged to perfection drummer Eric Wood

aged to perfection drummer Eric Wood

Friends for over 50 years, it is no wonder why they make beautiful music together.

Aged to Perfection, a collection of Okanagan-based musicians, will be playing at the Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival this weekend. As professional musicians, Penticton’s Eric Wood (drums) calculates they have 297 years of collective experience.

“We have been at it all our lives. We have met people from all over the world and our first jobs were as musicians,” said Wood. “We all understand each other and most play more than one instrument so we know what each other are doing or about to do.”

The trio of Wood, Sandy Cameron (clarinet, all saxes, flute) and Donnie Clark (trumpet and fluegel horn) have known each other since they were teens.

They met while in the Kitsilano Boys Band in Vancouver and travelled all over Europe in their youth performing, turning professional at about 15 years old. Now in their 70s, having individually travelled with many different bands, they decided to put together a group of Okanagan musicians — including Brian McMahon (string bass), Bob Rogers (trombone) and Don Ross (piano) — to play the Penticton Hot Jazz Festival for the first time together.

Clark is one of Canada’s leading trumpet and flugelhorn players and has performed and recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Doug Parker, New Orleans Connection and the Chicago Six to name a few. He is also a founding member of the legendary Vancouver all-star jazz sextet, Pacific Salt, that toured North America and Europe in the ‘70s.

“The rest of the gentlemen are also top, top musicians. They are very good players,” added Wood.

Wood said he was drawn to the drums at an early age.

“I started tap dancing and my brother played drums. I wouldn’t let him get on his drum set when I was about three years old, so he ended up playing trumpet,” he chuckled.

Playing instruments ran in Wood’s family, but the draw to jazz for him was about one thing.

“Freedom. Jazz is about freedom. You can express yourself more than say symphony where you are playing a chart and you have to be precise. Jazz you can play your own feeling and you blend with each other,” said Wood.

The 16th annual Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival takes place Sept. 7 to 9.

Tickets are available online at www.pentasticjazz.com, by phone at 250-276-211, or in person at the Best Western Plus on Skaha Lake Road and the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor’s Centre.