Okanagan Presents Citation
The Okanagan Presents Citation to Jazz Vocalist Anna Jacyszyn
When Anna Jacyszyn decided to return to the Okanagan in 2009 she vowed "to put us on the map" in the wider jazz community. She has accomplished that, and much more, in very short order, to a truly remarkable degree. She performs tirelessly up and down the Valley, with a wide range of musicians, and promotes music wherever she goes. She readily agrees to speak for and about jazz whenever asked and has worked with the musicians from the Okanagan Jazz and Blues Society and the Vernon Jazz Society to advance the prominence of live music in the Okanagan by raising the bar for quality.
Born in Warsaw Poland and brought up in Kelowna Anna Jacyszyn attended Raymer Elementary then KLO Secondary School. After graduation and eager to expand her vision and talent, she spread her wings by venturing to Europe and Asia. However, despite the excitement of being backing vocalist in England for Yazz, Marshall Jefferson, and Cher, she knew her true loves to be jazz and the Okanagan. Upon her return she created the Jazz Café at the Black Box behind the Kelowna Community Theatre. Attendance at the Black Box is always at capacity and among the charmed audience there is the consistent murmur, "I can hardly believe I'm in Kelowna. It feels like an exotic night club giving birth to jazz."
Anna's enthusiastic attention to nuances and details creates that experience, but the Jazz Café is more than just a great night out. Anna has made it a platform to launch her passion and personal dreams and enrich other lives. She regularly employes other musicians and each Café introduces another local or regional talent. In addition, she created the Jazz Café Music Bursary which each year will allow funds for two students to further their study of jazz music after graduation from high school, just as Anna did. The bursary funds are collected from a raffle each month.
On Thursday, January 6th at 5 pm the ongoing Okanagan Institute Express series at the Bohemian Café, 524 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna presented Anna Jacyszyn: Raising the Bar in which we presented a citation - by citizen's proclamation - to the inimitable jazz vocalist Anna Jacyszyn through a series of honourific tributes, dedications and performances.
Anna's voice and love for jazz has fostered enjoyment for many in the Okanagan at the Vernon Jazz Society, Ricardo's Mediterranean Kitchen and and many other venues. Hear how her energy has enriched the lives of bursary recipients Lonny Eagleton and James Prescott, jazz musician Bernie Addington and jazz lover Gary Pearson. But most of all come to hear Anna herself, joined by her supporters, in a taste of the music the Jazz Café offers. Hear how she tirelessly "raises the bar" in the Okanagan.
Lush LifeOkanagan InstituteIn October 2009, Anna launched her newest CD Lush Life. On it she collaborate with Bernie Addington, Stu Goldberg, Scoty Gamble, Neville Bowman, Larry Crawford, and the string quartet Jakub Kaiser, John Suderman, Sylvia Lange, and George Kiraly - all Okanagan musicians. Stu Goldberg said this on hearing the CD: "Anna Jacyszyn is a stunning vocal sensation. Her unique approach to the standards and originals reflects a deep understanding of jazz vocal lineage. While appreciating those who have come before her, like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington and Nancy Wilson, Anna's vocals are completely original, and overflow with infectious swing. In her performances she artfully brings the subtle nuances of every lyric to life, every dramatic turn of phrase becomes real, every heartfelt sentiment is delivered with poignance and passion."
The YouTube video below was shot at the Streaming Cafe with a line up of musicians centred around Anna's vocal stylings including Bernie Addington on bass, Neville Bowman on piano, Scott Gamble on drums, and Craig Thomson on tenor.
During the event, the Okanagan Institute will be declaring a unique Citizen's Proclamation (shown left) on Jacyszyn, with the following statement: "Whereas Anna Jacyszyn is a key inspirational member of the creative community, has supported other artists, and fostered the arts, in many ways during her years in the Okanagan as a dedicated musician, raconteur and impresario; therefore to honour her contribution to the creative and cultural life of the Okanagan, and the world - that Anna Jacyszyn be hereby presented with the Raising the Bar Citation, and we call upon all citizens of the Okanagan Valley and beyond to join with us in celebrating this distinquishment."