2017 TD Toronto Jazz Festival Preview19 June 2017 / by Jonathan Rodil (author)
A lot is going on in this year’s edition of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival which takes place from June 23 to July 2. Local and international artists will take to stages across the city. The lineup features big names and legends like Aretha Franklin and Mavis Staples; providing the much necessary soul, and Hudson, the quartet of Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski, and John Scofield. The current jazz landscape will be represented by acts like Shabaka and Ancestors, one the groups in the UK making waves and setting standards for modern jazz. As well as the musical wizard Donny McCaslin who was one of Bowie’s main collaborators on Blackstar, and Hiromi, who’s right there at the pinnacle of virtuosic pianists right now.
What stands out in this festival is the spotlight on Canadian musicians and its accessibility with a number of shows to choose from, many of which are free to attend. It’s a neat way to see and hear the quality music produced locally and nationally. Jazz is pretty wide open, and even if it's not your main thing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and pick up on. Experiencing the music live is an important fixture in the world of jazz so below a select few shows are listed, though there are many to check out. Also, all are free and display a diverse range of styles and forms. These sets were also chosen to avoid scheduling conflicts so it's possible to catch them all and avoid those tough decisions of choosing what show to go to and what show to miss.
Dialectica is an all sax quartet (tenor, baritone, alto and soprano) lineup comprising of talented, versatile women with roots in jazz and classical music. Their rich and varied tones combined provides an intriguing sound, and makes for a storytelling approach, central to its unique delivery. A set to be encompassed by a celestial atmosphere.
Dialectica is playing Monday, June 26, 7PM at the Church of the Redeemer alongside the Hogtown Brass Quintet.
Hyper + featuring Nick Fraser
The music of Hyper + takes twists and turns, all the while maintaining a focused approach in a trio setting. It leans towards a more avant-garde approach, yet holds an engaging accessibility. They’ll be playing alongside Toronto drummer, Nick Fraser, who’s made it along the local scene and put out a quality free jazz record on Starer. Sounds like it’ll be a awe-spiralling performance.
Hyper + with Nick Fraser are playing Wednesday, June 28, 7PM at Haliconian Hall
Alexis Baro & Pueblo Nuevo Jazz Project
Alexis Baro is a trumpeter and composer, raised in Havana, Cuba and now based in Toronto. A recognized musician with wide acclaim, winning the Gold Medal for Jazz in the 2015 Global Music Awards and numerous nominations for Best Trumpet Player in the Canadian National Jazz Awards. His latest record with Pueblo Nuevo Jazz Project, Sugar Rush, points toward Afro Cuban jazz, with its rolling rhythms and lyrical trumpet playing.
Alexis Baro & Pueblo Nuevo Jazz Project will be playing Wednesday, June 28, 8:30 PM at the OLG Stage on Cumberland St.
Allison Au Quartet
For some good jazz in the city, see the Allison Au Quartet. They won the Juno Award for Album of the Year by a Jazz Group in 2016 and have been solid on the live circuit, no slacking around and really hitting on multiple to all cylinders. The music is detailed and lush, modern yet reverent. They’re well versed among styles and present a cool confidence, lending itself to the precisely sharp, effusive playing by all members.
The Allison Au Quartet is playing Thursday, June 29, 8PM at the OLG Stage on Hazelton Ave.
Soulful jazz vocalist, composer, and arranger, Joanna Majoko presents a distinct musicality that’d be hard to miss. Her sound is smooth and natural, nothing feels out of place with her music. It has a retro quality with a firm grounding in modern composition, travelling through diverse styles and forms. Not hard to tell that she’s been an experienced student of music, graduating with a Bachelor of Jazz Studies and performing around the world, most recently at the 2017 Winter Jazz Festival in New York.
Joanna Majoko will be playing Saturday, July 1, 5:30PM at the OLG Stage on Cumberland St.