Documenting Vancouver’s Jazzy History
Published30 October, 2023
Photo credit Images courtesy of Jared Burrows
Curated by local musicians and devotees of the genre, the Vancouver Jazz Archive is a growing collection of jazz information and memorabilia, hosted by the CapU Library.
How can we re-engage the coming generations of musicians and listeners in one of the few genuinely North American art forms?
It all started with an ending. Burrows’ close friend and songwriting partner, vocalist Colin Lazzerini, died in 2021. In the process of clearing out his home, he spotted a few boxes of memorabilia marked for the trash.
“The family wasn’t interested in all the old posters and handbills, but for me, it was a treasure trove,” Burrows said. “As I went through the boxes, I thought I should scan and digitize them.”
Burrows’ desire to document the past to help us learn and appreciate the present was the true beginning of the archive, which goes back to 1979 and contains over 400 items provided by Nikita Carter, a musician and composer who has worked in Vancouver and abroad for decades. The archive is constantly growing, with new items added frequently.
From the archives
“Instead of being tucked away in storage spaces, [these items] should come out into the light and be seen by anyone who could understand their meaning and relevance.”
She adds that working on projects like the archive allows her to flex her librarianship muscles, helping find new ways to connect people to information, especially relating to arts and culture in a city that feels colder and more distant each year.
“This collection is one of those projects that allows me to feel like I’m participating in the life of this city and its history – if only vicariously.”
Vancouver Jazz Archive
The archive is a fulsome collection of jazz information and memorabilia.Visit the archive
For his part, Burrows laments what Vancouver has become for artists and musicians but remains optimistic that projects like the archive can show people – especially those who haven’t experienced as much live music – the value of supporting the performers we have now.
“Vancouver is filling up with shiny, boring new condos and franchise stores. It wasn’t always like that,” he said. “Against all odds, we still have a vibrant, exciting, grassroots arts scene in Vancouver, but it is precarious.”
“I hope that understanding what we had in the past might help us learn to value and support what we have in the present.”
You can stream or purchase Colin Lazzerini's final album, Monarch Studio Sessions, featuring Jared Burrows on guitar, on Bandcamp.