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5 up and coming jazz artists in Toronto

Posted by Jacob Thompson / August 21, 2014

Jazz TorontoWhile many fans lament the end of the golden age of jazz in Toronto, there has undoubtedly been an influx of young local talent within the last decade. Some come from respected post-secondary music programs, while some seem to come out of nowhere with their own DIY projects.

The result is a diversity in sound; classical, fusion, lounge, and free form are all well represented here in the city with a plethora of bars and festivals to support it. Peak your interest? Here are five Toronto jazz artists to keep an eye on.

Eli Bennett
At the age of 25, this Toronto-based saxophonist has already garnered 35 international awards while also cultivating a career as a film composer. A graduate of the Humber program, Bennett has been crafting his own sound while onlookers anxiously await the release of his debut studio album in the fall. His next local performance will be at the Rex on October 22nd.

Barbra Lica
Recently selected as one of Canada's top 5 jazz singers by CBC, the Toronto born Lica sings an upbeat, easygoing brand of jazz but with a soulful twist behind it. This summer she's been touring the festival circuit with stops in Toronto, Markham, and an upcoming show in Niagara.

Patrick Hewan
Drawing from influences such as Keith Jarrett and Oscar Peterson, Hewan has been tearing up the local circuit with soulful and energetic performances. He marries this energetic performances with a very virtuosic understanding of classical piano. He'll be playing at Poetry Jazz Café four times before the summer is up.

Andria Simone and Those Guys
Smokey is the first word that comes to mind when you listen to Andria Simone. Reminiscent of old school lounge singers, Simone can switch between funk, blues, and soul flawlessly while staying true to her own style. Her bandmates are no slouches either, providing a diverse soundscape with obvious jazz inspirations. Check out Brian Dhari's sax solo above below.

BBNG takes jazz to a new level with a grandiose fusion of new school electronic production, hip-hop and free form jazz. They frequently collaborate with Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean while also creating immersive and imaginative covers of artists such as Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, and James Blake. While already three albums deep with a steady following, a Polaris long list nom, and a huge tour schedule, look for BBNG to catapult even further.

Writing by Jacob Thompson. Photo via



Adrean Farrugia / August 21, 2014 at 01:44 am
Now can anyone name the top 5 "Already up and came" jazz musicians in Toronto? :)
Audio Blood / August 21, 2014 at 05:47 pm
Diggin Andria Simone and Those Boys!
Mark Eisenman / August 22, 2014 at 08:10 am
Adrean Farrugia has a point. There are multiple generations of "up and came jazz" musicians looking for work. That being said, this is a good list.
Christine replying to a comment from Adrean Farrugia / August 22, 2014 at 09:34 am
Sienna Dahlen! I first fell in love with her voice when I heard her cover of "Cry Me A River"... based in TO!
Jane Somers / August 22, 2014 at 11:49 pm
I am looking for a solo or duet for a jazz matinee i will be having at my new bar Ronnie B's Southern Kitchen & Taps, if you know of anyone drop me a
Ben Dietschi / August 23, 2014 at 01:54 am
Some of the people in the comments section should be included on this list. Just sayin... this list is a random assortment at best. But thank you for writing about jazz in TO. I'm not hating on anyone in this list (except BadBadNotActuallyMakingMusic) but there's just so much more going on....want a good cross section? Check out Dan Fortin's Monday series at the Emmet Ray. :)
J. McG replying to a comment from Adrean Farrugia / August 23, 2014 at 11:27 am
Nope ;o)
Ben replying to a comment from Ben Dietschi / August 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm
Ugh, my last comment there was kinda negative and wine-fueled...sorry. This IS totally a great list, but there are so many more! I'll be more constructive and list some of my 'emerging' favourites: Allison Au, Alex Samaras, Homzy-Kesler Duo, Anna Atkinson, Jeff LaRochelle, PRAM Trio, Hobson's Choice, Peripheral Vision, Sarah Jerrome, Chris Donnelly/Myriad 3 Trio, Eric West, Roarshaq and so many more :-)
Sean Pascalle / August 24, 2014 at 04:53 pm
Patrick is heavy, we are very grateful to enjoy his weekly residency at POETRY* Jazz Cafe.
Love & Light my brother.
Jazz? / August 25, 2014 at 10:55 am
Bad Bad Not Good is a joke, and including a band like that in a list of jazz is brutal. Who writes these things? There's a tradition to this music, though it seems that most writers these days couldn't be bothered looking into it. For me up and coming should at least merit ability to play ones instrument at a professional level. Oh, and know more than 5 tunes that you still need a fake book to hack through on the bandstand. Just saying...
dtp2015 / April 4, 2015 at 09:41 pm
William Carn and Tara Davidson
Other Cities: Montreal