The People

Midnight Blue Jazz Society is defined by its people.

Midnight Blue Jazz Society is defined by its people. Over the past 20 years, we have evolved as a group and built countless friendships. Our group is more family than anything; from the road trips to Courtenay/Comox, Yellowknife and everywhere in between, we always look forward to seeing each other.

“Adopting the policy of the ‘right person’ rather than the ‘best musician’ to join the band has been integral to the longevity and success of the band. Guest musicians performing with the band are in awe of the teamwork, the ‘lack of egos’ and general fun that we all enjoy.

-Sheilah Hammerton, Co-Founder of MBJS

MBJS is comprised of 17 individual band members – those who are still with our band to this day and those who have retired bring an essential component to the dynamic of the group. One of our greatest accomplishments as an organization has been taking the time and effort to appreciate the uniqueness of its members.  When asked about our greatest accomplishment, Barry How said “it’s quite an accomplishment for MBJS when seventeen individuals with different personalities and backgrounds can come together and play beautiful music for others to enjoy. I haven’t played on many championship teams, but I consider MBJS a champion and am proud to be part of it.”

I learned that the support of my fellow musicians made me a better musician. When I struggled both musically and personally a hand up was always there.

Dave Hiley, Co-Founder MBJS

When I first subbed with MBJS, I never thought I would be playing a Bass Trombone. The patience and willingness to let me grow into a new instrument is fantastic. This proves to me that again, the people are first.”
– Shelley Langdon

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have grown closer than ever. We quickly adapted to the evolving circumstance and had to get creative in finding opportunities to get together as a group (thank you, Zoom). Although playing music is our core activity – we are fortunate enough to have a great group who were game to do more than play music. Every Monday night (our regular rehearsal night) is dedicated to doing something together as a group, whether it’s a thoughtful discussion sparked by a topic of the week, themed nights, watching documentaries, and so much more.  Monday nights are sacred as ‘Band Night.’

MBJS is a family. We sadly lost one our members and bass trombone player, Ross Langdon, in 2018. Ross was a dedicated trombonist, sharing his talents with many groups in the community.  His passing is a great loss to the organizations to which he contributed so much.

An Ode to Our Directors:

Our band is constantly evolving, and we experienced a profound change when our inaugural director, Richard Condon, retired.  We owe a great deal to Richard for helping us get off the ground.

When Richard was asked about the success of MBJS, he said, “I think the key to the band’s success in the 12 years I was with MB was the fact that there was so little turnover in players. I would say 10 or so were together for the time I was there.  Good commitment.” 

Why did Richard keep coming back to direct the band? “The people, the commitment, the shared goals, the quality of the group, and the fun!”

In 2012, Lael Johnston joined us as Artistic Director. Lael immediately understood that the band needed to perform more contemporary music while keeping the standards in our repertoire when needed. He understood our difference, as compared to other adult bands, and knew that our performances were more than that – they are a piece of entertainment.

The group has shown me the value and impact a semi-professional band can make on a community. It has reaffirmed how important it is to remember that music needs to be a celebration and a form of communion between the audience and performers.”
-Lael Johnston

“Lael brings a full spectrum of musical thought to our rehearsals and performances. He is always able to make the songs we play as musical as possible. He also considers the expected and real audience when making decisions about what to play when and at what tempo. He also treats the band members as musicians and equals even though he is so much farther along the continuum of musical learning than all of the members.”

– John Watson

Hiring a Director with a knowledge of and interest in performing and pub gigs was a major step forward from just being a rehearsal band.”
– Emmett Hogan

Our people make us unique – we are a family. We genuinely appreciate each other, the commitment to the band and the willingness to participate. We are proud of each band member and can’t wait to continue our traditions inside and outside of practice.