Deanne Matley will be heading off to a place with a thriving jazz scene.
It isn’t New York. It isn’t Los Angeles. It isn’t Paris.
The Calgary-based jazz singer, who performs with the Prime Time Big Band, will be heading to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 1-8 for the Giant Steppes Jazz Festival.
“The piano player I work with (Bruce Petherick) has been there before, and there was an e-mail out a few years ago asking people who wanted to come and perform and I said ‘let’s do that,’” she said following her performance on Sunday.
A grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts will be sending Matley and Petherick to Mongolia, where they will perform at the festival, take part in workshops and perform at the Canadian Embassy on Canada Day. The pair will be leaving June 29 and will be back in Canada July 13.
“I’m extremely excited to perform at the festival,” she said, noting it would be her first time in the country.
The festival got its start in 2004, with Canadian musician Debra Rasmussen among the performers. It attracts jazz musicians from around the world and also serves as a showcase for Mongolian artists.
Jazz has been growing in the country since the 1990s, when American musician Bob Bellows came to Mongolia and began teaching jazz improvisation to the National Philharmonic Orchestra, according to the festival’s website. Since then, musicians around the world and Mongolian musicians have been helping develop performers.
Matley’s experience with jazz began in high school, when she auditioned for the jazz choir, and was instructed to perform an Ella Fitzgerald tune.
“I was hooked ever since,” she said. “Now I’m singing with a big band, and it’s been an incredible journey.”