Beaches International Jazz Festival 2018: Review16 July 2018 / by Harrish Sivaganeesh (author)
The 30th Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival kicked off last weekend with the Sounds of Leslieville and Riverside Block party programmes. On Sunday, the Sounds of Leslieville programme happened on the main stage of Jimmie Simpson Park, on Queen Street East, sponsored by Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. There were food trucks that offered tasty meals, as well as booths for organizations that sponsored the overall festival, such as Tourism P.E.I, Sunnybrook Hospital, Royal Ontario Museum, and Bell Canada. Free samples of iced tea were also offered to help cool off from the heat, courtesy of Second Cup. There was a total of three bands that played during that day. Musical harmonies could also be softly heard from each of the Riverside Block parties, from Verral Avenue (just West of Carlaw Avenue) to Saulter Street (East of Broadview Avenue). The Leslieville community was filled with musical vibrations.
The day at Jimmie Simpson Park started off with the Toronto All-Star Big Band. The band consisted of 16 instrumentalists, 5 singers, and 1 conductor. The band has performed at other festivals in Toronto, and just like in this festival, they brought out nostalgia with some classic jazz songs that released from the 1930s to the 1950s. Some songs that were played included “Jumping at the Woodside”, “Leap Frog”, “Sunnyside of the Street”, “That Cat is High”, and “Basin Street Boogie.” The band had excellent coordination and synchronization, as they got the crowd energized and into the mood of the songs by making their singers lively and animated with choreographed, light dance moves. Instrumentalists also danced a little when they were not playing. The band worked together to keep all songs upbeat, including the slow-tempo ones. A great performance was displayed overall by the Toronto All-Star Big Band.
After the Toronto All-Star Big Band was La Chiva Gantiva, a Latin American band that focused on African-based music, including jazz. The group is made of diverse members coming from Belgium, Colombia, Chile, and Vietnam. Each original song escalated in intensity as the performance went on, making it a highly compelling performance. The group also tried to add other elements to make their performance more entertaining, such as gestural and verbal humour in between songs, while their female percussionist danced to each song as she played. Instrumentalists also interacted with each other to create rhythmic patterns that were amusing to people’s ears. Since all the songs were in Spanish, most did not understand the lyrics. However, at least one band member gave an introduction in English before some of the songs, so it was easier to understand the song when they played.
The final performance of the day was by The Community Soul Project. After taking one hour to set up, the group performed many famous songs from all eras. The renditions consisted of songs by artists such as Michael Jackson and Jack Wood. The lead singer was very lively. She interacted with the audience and tried to bring up their energy. She was able to get hands waving in the air, and even got some people dancing! As their name suggests, the renditions were very soulful, and it was enjoyed by all.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival offers free admission, and will last until July 29th. The next program is their Latin Carnival at Woodbine Park, which is this coming weekend. Full details about the festival can be found on their website, at beachesjazz.com.