Life has a tendency to lead people to where they need to be. For Jaclyn Guillou, that destination is to make jazz cool again.
To do that, the Vancouver born and raised singer/songwriter has taken her background in tap dance and musical theatre and married it to a recently found appreciation for one of popular music’s oldest genres.
The combination has paid off. In 2009 she was invited to play the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, where she received the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award.
Since then she’s cut an independently produced album and has been playing venues all over Canada and Europe. And, on May 17, Guillou will perform at The Commodore on Victoria Street. Tickets are $10 at the door and the show begins at 8 p.m.
“It’s been crazy awesome,” Guillou said of her career thus far.
Guillou was on her way to a show in Calgary when she spoke to The Daily News. The western Canada portion of the tour marked this latest excursions midpoint, but she isn’t complaining about spending more than a month on the road.
Instead, she appreciates the rhythm a steady set of travelling dates can provide, saying it puts her in the groove to perform.
And jazz is all about rhythm and groove. Being a jazz singer, however, is something Guillou fell into as opposed to a goal she set out to achieve.
“I was actually in theatre for many years,” Guillou said, adding she started performing when she was 12. “I did musicals all over Toronto and Ontario, even in Russia at one point.”
It was while working on a production with the Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver that a group of musicians got her into jazz. At the time, she was interested in exploring a different creative outlet, having grown tired of the cookie-cutter world of musical theatre.
“It’s amazing, but it’s more structure and form,” she said of musical theatre.
As fate would have it, Guillou also worked as a bartender at a jazz club in downtown Vancouver. This led her to sing with musicians who jammed at the club and the rest is history.
Guillou takes her musical cues from modern jazz, singing over a dense range of instruments that include horns and vibraphones. Those who attend her performance at The Commodore will hear a set of mostly original songs that tell a musical story.
These songs can be heard on Guillou’s first album, To the City.
“It’s very eclectic. It’s contemporary,” she said of her music.
For more on Guillou head to jaclynguillou.com.