Queen Kong

Queen Kong at SimonHolt, November 26, 2023

The Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association (NIJFA) alongside Luis Porretta hosted yet another talented group of jazz musicians on November 26th 2023. The Toronto based jazz group Queen Kong played their first Nanaimo show of their tour at the SimonHolt restaurant and left the crowd eager to approach the artists afterwards for congratulations and some friendly conversation. Queen Kong specializes in traditional Jewish music and culture presented through jazz, with other musical influences such as hip hop and Ethiopian drums to create a new and engaging sound.

The audience was deeply involved in the music, at times, applauding enthusiastically before the final note rang out of a song. The foot-tapping and head-nodding were also approval signs of the engaging rhythms.

In the audience that evening was none other than past president and founder of NIJFA Andrew Homzy who explained his process of creating the association more than 7 years ago, and what inspired him to do so. Homzy played in the Montreal Jazz Festival and taught jazz studies at Concord University for forty years. Eventually, Homzy decided to take a sabbatical as far from Montreal as possible, but a strike occurred, throwing the university’s early retirement plan up in the air. Homzy had a choice to lose out on early retirement or retire in the next 30 days.  And he did just that, moving to Nanaimo with the hope of making a difference in the jazz community.

Homzy stated that his goal with NIJFA was to highlight local jazz performers and to keep the performances in the downtown area to build a community energy. He also encouraged professionalism and cohesion from the artists he hired as he wished to give these performers a chance to step away develop from armature amateur productions to a professional presenting careers.

Homzy’s passion for jazz was clear palpable throughout our conversation and has clearly passed that appetite on to the association’s new current NIJFA president, Francois Savard, as NIJFA continues to host and promote many talented jazz artists with of different styles and passions genres, like as we saw with Queen Kong, in myriad local venues of our community.

Brookner Tobin

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