toronto jazz festival

The top 5 shows to see at the Toronto Jazz Festival 2014

The Toronto Jazz Festival is the next summer music fest in line for Toronto, running June 19th-28th. This year`s star studded line-up is filled with over 350 artists playing at 50 different venues including Nathan Phillips Square, The Rex, Kool Haus, and Roy Thomson Hall.

The festival operates under a pay-per-show format with some bars charging cover while larger acts operate through Ticketmaster or their respective venue`s website. This is the festival`s 27th year, with alumnus including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin.

Here are my picks for 5 must-see shows at the 2014 TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

Earth, Wind and Fire / Tuesday June 24 / Sony Centre / 8PM
The group that has spanned four decades and over forty members is the unofficial headliner of the Jazz Fest this year. Known for their colorful performances and combination of 70s funk, r&b, and jazz, Earth, Wind, and Fire are widely thought of as one of the most influential bands of the 20th century. Their impressive horn section demands attention while Phillip Bailey`s infectious falsetto has inspired people to sing out of tune for decades.

Snarky Puppy / Monday June 23 / The Horseshoe Tavern / 10pm
This Brooklyn based, Texan born fusion band has gained quite a following in its ten years of existence. Snarky Puppy use a variety of instrumentation from guitars, keyboards, horns, and drums to form a sound often described as world music but definitely born of a jazz backbone. Their notoriety for rich and complex soundscapes have attracted the attention of collaborators such as Justin Timberlake, Erykah Badu, and Snoop Dogg.

Bobby McFerrin / Friday June 27 / Nathan Phillips Square - Toronto Star Stage / 8pm
The genius behind Big Mouth Billy Bass`s hit single comes to Toronto as part of his spirityouall tour. McFerrin`s brand of performance usually includes an interactive portion as well as some acapellas - McFerrin is able to manipulate his voice to create a polyphonic sound, often by beating his chest simultaneously. This, coupled with his incredible vocal range and musical intellect make him one of the more unique acts this year.

Keith Jarrett / Wednesday June 25 / Roy Thomson Hall / 8pm
This former Miles Davis collaborator has carved out a very long and illustrious career for himself on the piano, leaving his mark on a variety of different projects. This year, Jarrett will play a solo piano set in the historical and classy confines of Roy Thomson Hall. However, word is, the man prefers a quiet arena so if you don`t like coughs and murmurs interrupting your experience this may be the show for you.

Big Sam`s Funky Nation & Galactic / Monday June 23 / Nathan Phillips Square - Star Stage / 8pm
These New Orleans staples play a jammy type of a jazz that inspires images of Bourbon Street. Big Sam`s Funky Nation is centered around trombone player "Big Sam" Williams who not only plays a mean trombone but is also a recurring character on HBO`s Treme as himself. Like Big Sam, Galactic plays a mix of funk and jazz with loads of energy and stage presence. In recent years, Galactic has experimented with new styles such as hip-hop to infuse with their classic New Orleans style.

What did I miss? Add your Jazz Festival picks to the comments below.

The Toronto Jazz Festival runs from June 19-28 2014. Writing by Jacob Thompson. Photo via Snarky Puppy on Facebook.

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