Top News

Exploits Jazz Band celebrating 35 years of beautiful music with concert series

The Exploits Jazz Band performs in April 2019 at the Gander Music Festival.
The Exploits Jazz Band performs in April 2019 at the Gander Music Festival. - Contributed

There are a lot of years of beautiful music behind the Exploits Jazz Band.
It all started 35 years ago, when Laura Race, Mike Race, and Terry Burke dreamed of creating a band for the Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander area. 
Laura said the band got its start from Mike’s desire to continue playing big band music after graduating from the jazz studies program at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.
“(Mike) worked with Ray Alyward, who was teaching at St. Mike’s (St. Michael’s High School in Grand Falls-Windsor) to organize interested players in the area," Laura said.
The band now has an 18-piece membership with saxophones, trombones, trumpets, a full rhythm section and a female vocalist, Shauna Matthews. 
“We also have a person who takes care of our sound and technical needs,” she said via e-mail.
And the three founding members are also still with it – Laura is an alto saxophonist, Burke plays the bass guitar, and Mike, who was the original director, plays the trombone.
Burke said he’s always been passionate about music and was a member of his high school jazz band.
“When Mike came to me in 1984 and asked if I might be interested in starting a jazz band, I was really excited about it,” Burke said during a recent phone interview.
The band has had many memorable experiences over the years, he said, at both rehearsals and concert performances.
From jazz to swing; pop to rock and roll; country to ballads, the band’s wide variety of music attracts people who enjoy a wide variety of music genres, Burke added.
“We call ourselves a jazz band but we play just about every spectrum of music that you could mention,” Burke said.
The band has continued to grow musically over the years, Laura said, and performs at the local Kiwanis Music Festival and, when possible, at MusicFest in St. John's.
Performances also take place at numerous other music festivals, conferences, and conventions, variety shows, fundraisers, and other events throughout the community.
Musicians have a lot of fun in rehearsals, Laura said, while working hard to make good music. 
Strong friendships have developed over the years, she adds, and the musicians feel fortunate to have had many accomplished musicians play with the band.
While the rehearsals are enjoyable, performing before an audience is what’s most satisfying. 
The group is celebrating its 35th anniversary with concerts in both Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander. The band will be performing some of its favourite music from the past 35 years – from “String of Pearls" to “Saving All My Love for You” to “Stairway to Heaven."

Recent Stories