Toronto Jazz Festival 2011
The Toronto Jazz Festival enters its 25th season this year, an occasion that will be marked by something of a return to its roots in the Entertainment District. Although there are venues throughout the city affiliated with the festival (including an alcohol-friendly Distillery District), the main stage has been moved from Nathan Phillips Square to David Pecaut Square at King and Wellington streets close to where it all began as the Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival.
As has been the case in previous years, the festival is actually fairly open from a generic standpoint, with lots of blues, hip hop, and soul on offer in addition to jazz. Over the course of its 10-day run, 1,500 musicians will play in over 350 performances. And, given that it doesn't have the misfortune of coinciding with the G20 this year, attendance numbers are expected to hit a half-million people.
Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, Wednesday, June 29th. Kroerner Hall, 8pm, $45-$55
Although they already play together regularly in the Branford Marsalis Quartet, the sax leader and his pianist will once in a while strip it down as a duo and let loose with more improvised work. "The idea is to capture a spirit, a vibe, to improvise completely instead of just playing things that you know you can play," says Calderazzo.
Molly Johnson with the Count Basie Orchestra, Wednesday June 29th. David Pecaut Square, 8:30pm, $45
Local singer Molly Johnson does the swing thing up with one of the best big bands of all time, the Count Basie Orchestra. The combination of Johnson's voice and an almost 40-members ensemble is sure to make for one of the richest sounding performances of the fest.
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Thursday, June 30th. David Pecaut Square, 5:30pm, FREE
One of the biggest buzz bands in the jazz world right now, the 18-piece Darcy James Argue's Secret Society has met with critical accolades galore over the last the last couple years. The festival website boasts that the band's "London Jazz Festival debut was declared 'a contender for gig of the year' by John L. Waters in The Guardian," which is, you know, pretty impressive. And it's somehow free.
The Roots, Friday July 1st. David Pecaut Square, 8:30pm, $50
Perhaps a nostalgic choice for me, but hip hop's relationship with jazz has eroded over the last 10 years and the Roots remind me of a time when it was common to hear Charles Mingus-influenced bass lines throughout (particularly east coast) hip hop. And that's not to mention that band is one of the better live hip hop acts out there (what with playing their own instruments and all).
Bootsy Collins, July 2nd. David Pecaut Square, 8:30pm, $40
Although he's doesn't tour as much as he used to, the former bassist for Parliament/Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins can still bring the funk, as they say. Expect a rousing show with lots of 1970s funk classics.
OTHER PERFORMANCES TO CHECK OUT
- Aretha Franklin, David Pecaut Square, June 24th, 8:30 p.m. FREE!
- Average White Band and Stax, with Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn & Eddie Floyd, David Pecaut Square, June 25th, 8:30 p.m.
- Atomic, The Music Gallery, June 26th, 8 p.m.
- Paco de Lucia, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, June 27th, 8 p.m.
- Koptor, The Music Gallery, June 27th, 8 p.m.
- Los Lonely Boys/Los Lobos, David Pecaut Square, June 28th, 8:30 p.m.
- Eliane Elias, Enwave Theatre, June 29th, 7 p.m.
- Kenny Barron, Glenn Gould Studio, June 29th, 6 p.m.
- Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, David Pecaut Sqare, June 30th, 8:30 p.m.
- Tony Quarrington, Beverly Taft & San Murata, Dominion on Queen, July 1st 8pm
- Marianne Trudel Septet, the Music Gallery, July 2nd, 8 p.m.
- Francois Bourassa Quartet, David Pecaut Square, July 3rd, 5:30 p.m.
For complete listings, check out the calendar on the Toronto Jazz Festival Website.