Introducing Canada’s Incredible “Eighth Street Orchestra”!

Eight Street Orchestra in Concert

Yesterday I received a wonderful email from Canada about The Eighth Street Orchestra, based in Owen Sound, 220 kilometres north west of Toronto. Ever heard of them? If not, you have now! The email was from Band Leader, Gary Lawrence Murphy. He wrote:

“Your About page didn’t say how you found out about new jazz bands, but on discovering your pages via the Toronto area trad jazz group on Facebook, and in the spirit of “exuberant smaller bands” and especially young players, I thought I might invite you to check out our page where we post our day-to-day happenings with our band of mostly 15-16 year old players (plus a few others who’ve gravitated to our exuberance). I hope you enjoy it!”

Swinging Along with Happy Jazz
Enjoy it, Gary? You bet I did! The Eighth Street Orchestra fits right in with my “About Jazz&Jazz” declaration to “focus on the vitality of younger, emerging stars and on the inexhaustible exuberance of smaller bands on the jazz circuit.” Under the heading “Jazz Fans” I go on to say: “JazzandJazz aims to become a force for jazz by galvanising jazz fans everywhere into a trad jazz revival and by helping to win over a younger generation of fans to swing along with happy jazz.”

Eighth Street most certainly meets and surpasses all of those criteria! They swing along with happy jazz right out on the peninsular that divides Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. As Gary puts it, “out on the edge of cottage country really”. There is an argument that nowadays the only chance of live jazz surviving is in city zones where there are nuclei of fans. Eighth Street most certainly scuppers that!

Breathing New Life into a Jazz Revival
So thank you, Gary, for introducing me and the increasing number of jazzers following my site, to the 15-16 year old players (plus “those few others who have gravitated to your exuberance”) who form The Eighth Street Orchestra.

This is a breath of fresh air! The kind of fresh air that can breath new life into New Orleans Revivalist Jazz!

I am proud to feature The Eighth Street Orchestra on Jazz&Jazz! So Jazzers, be sure to visit and “like” their Facebook page. For me it is solid evidence that I appear to be achieving what I set out to achieve when I launched Jazz&Jazz.

The photos, courtesy of Eighth Street Orchestra, demonstrate the bands diversity.

Eighth Street Links:
News & Video:

Gary Lawrence Murphy

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  1. Thanks for the kind words! And you know, this music does have a very wide reach and appeal. So many musics today exist to divide groups, to set up walls between genres, but trad jazz still tears down all the barriers, language, age, nationality — even teenagers too cool to like our music will sit on park benches or park their bikes nearby to hear us play 🙂

    We did a school tour last spring, taking our sound to the local area kindergarten to grade 6 elementary students at half a dozen schools, and the response was incredible, kids and teachers were doing a New Orleans parade dance out of the hall as we played our exit number (Dinah!) Before the show, teachers would caution kids to ‘behave’ as they arrived, “sit quiet and listen” they’d say, but 10 seconds into Basin Street all the stops would be out and we’d have their complete engaged attention for the next hour, smiling boppin’ faces everywhere!

    At the Q&A part of the show one little boy in Grade 3 asked, “Why is this music so popular?” It was a very good question! I told him how, when Louis Armstrong was young (our show centred on the early life of Pops) how everyone, black, white, yellow or otherwise would gather in the streets and play together, and that probably brought out the very best of everyone’s music, a little blues, a little church, a little march, a little gypsy, a little italian, french, polish, celtic, asian … so when the ODJB released that first record in 1917, maybe it really isn’t much of a surprise when by middle 1918 there were bands in JAPAN playing their own folk melodies with a LaRocca “jazz it up” spin on them!

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