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“I arrived in town and got exposed to a lot of the guys who played in these established groups like the Bobby Hales Big Band through the old Hot Jazz Club on Main Street,” he said. “Through them, I was able to work back and find out more, because I wanted to get the interviews done to document those days while people were still around to tell me.”

The process of putting together his assorted photographic finds and interviews originally began in the early 2000s. The author notes that he didn’t feel he had a grasp on how he wanted to showcase his stories and needed to work out how to best package them. The idea is for Volume 1 to be first in a chronological order that spans around a 90-year period beginning in 1910 and ending around the 1990s. However, there are images and information from across that whole time in the first release.

Critchley says a hump on the horizon is that his idea of making the music and the city landscape both play a role in the story gets a lot harder after 1980.

“You know, all the big-band rooms shut down one after the next, and, when you get into the archives, it’s kind of like people just quit taking pictures of the city at the same time,” he said. “I like to think that, when things get going really well again in Vancouver, there could be space for another big-band jazz room in town. Who knows?”

Looking through the photos of big-name acts like Lena Horne or Earl (Fatha) Hines, as well as CBC sessions with such talented locals as Dave Robbins, it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when Vancouver was swinging. In its own quirky way, this book changes that perception. For a genuine fan like Critchley, that is a goal being met.


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