Stan Antonuk (bass) Gloria van Wert (vocal) Ed van Wert (piano) Circa 1966 .Ed and Gloria van Wert brought a new sophisticated big city sound to Medicine Hat temporarily between 1965 and 1967 and then permanently in 1969. They brought a wealth of show business experience from Toronto and Los Angeles and introduced an entirely new dynamic to the local music scene. Some players that have worked with them include Wayne Spackman, Tony Williams, Stan Antonuk, Rod Carrol and , surprisingly, Gord Johnson who went on to form Big Sugar. They played everywhere from The Elk’s Club, which at the time was quite a posh venue, to beer halls like the Assiniboia Hotel.
A very “cool” looking Ed van Wert playing piano for Toronto bandleader and recording artist Chicho Valle. Likely around 1956. Chicho Valle had a radio show that was broadcast nationally on CBC Radio in 1955 and 1956 and Ed Van Wert was his piano player. In 1957 Ed moved to Los Angeles , further studying piano, where he met Gloria Frescas, got married and played the LA club circuit.
Following are 2 audio clips which come from nationally broadcast CBC shows in about 1956. The first is the Chicho Valle sign off and the second is a song called El Bobo. Take the time to listen to this as it shows Ed’s great ability to play latin jazz. ( Thanks to Wayne Spackman for preserving this great music…he spent countless hours editing, enhancing and preserving this material)
Chicho Valle sign off: (audio)
El Bobo: (audio)
As we have not been able to locate a performance photo for Gloria and Ed van Wert in the 60s this photo from 1973 will have to do for now. Gloria van Wert (vocal and percussion) , Tony Williams ( sax), Tommy Carrol (bass), Ed van Wert (piano). They were a very popular act at the Legion Dining Lounge between 1970 and 1973.
Following is an audio clip with Glorian singing It Must Be Him accompanied by Ed van Wert and Wayne Spackman on bass.
It Must Be Him: (audio)
This photo falls well out of the scope of this site but I just had to include it for various reasons. It is Ed and Gloria van Wert likely at the now long gone Maxwells on Second Street and pictures two other interesting musicians . On flugelhorn is a gentleman named Bob Day with whom I had the pleasure to work with for many years in Calgary after he spent several years working with Paul Anka. The bass player is Gordie Johnson who left Medicine Hat , moved to Toronto and started the great blues group Big Sugar.
Here is a newspaper ad from the early 1970s (??) that promotes the van Werts appearing at the Legion, which was a very popular place to have dinner, take in some entertainment and enjoy an evening of dancing. Notice that there were 3 acts appearing on the same night which just shows how much live music was available during the 1960s and 1970s. The Elks also often had 4 nights a week of live music with several bands on any given night. ( see Marguerite Nering). Today it can be difficult to find more than one or two live music venues even on the weekends.