Finding Joy

Submitted by Josh Grossman on Fri Mar 5 11:40am

For a few hours last weekend, the sun was gloriously shining and our little family unit sat outside, enjoying an afternoon snack, interacting (from a distance) with our neighbours and things felt, in those moments, hopeful.

With vaccines now rolling out (slowly but surely), and cities around the world putting plans in place to re-open over the next several months, I'm feeling something that resembles optimism - this despite the news, difficult but not unexpected, that Toronto would not be issuing any permits for public events until after July 1, essentially putting any official Festival plans on hold (again). But we're not letting this new(ish) development get in the way of celebrating jazz in all its forms, especially as we enter our 35th year - we're hard at work on what I expect will be an ambitious slate of programming over the next 12 months.

Rather than dwelling on ongoing challenges, I'm trying to take a cue from the weather (Spring is coming regardless!), looking for the positive, and relishing the moments of joy I experience each day. At home that's recently meant instances of extra tenderness or pure silliness (or last weekend's three-layer funfetti cake which actually turned out); at work that's meant welcome conversations with colleagues near and far and the sense of excitement which comes with exploring new programming possibilities. And whether it's my kids singing their choir music through the house or hearing a new release, music is a constant source of joy.

So instead of belabouring the point in words (talking about music is like dancing about architecture, right?), I figured I'd just list a few musical tidbits which have especially raised my spirits in the past few weeks...

...starting with this, which dropped today:

Some homegrown funk:

Gospel goodness (for me, from 9:40 to the end in particular):

New music from Malika Tirolien always does the trick...

And two more that don't have direct video:

Last Thursday, in a collaboration between The Embassy of Canada, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the DC Jazz Fest, Larnell Lewis performed a short solo set from his home in Toronto. Over the course of 40 or so minutes, Larnell, along with pannist, composer and educator (and also his wife) Joy Lapps-Lewis, presented an uplifting set of music, full of impressive technique, informative historical context and so much, well, joy. If you missed the set, here's something slightly different, but just as fun:

And sitting on my coffee table, waiting for assembly, is my very own Holobox Theatre, which I'll be using to watch the upcoming Women From Space Festival online. I have no idea how it works, but I'm pretty excited to put it together and test it out - kudos to Women From Space for aiming to present online content in an original way. (So I guess this is joy derived in equal parts from an arts and crafts project and in experiencing a new and creative way to present under the current circumstances.)

Please share what's bringing you joy these days - I'm sure we could all use an extra endorphin or two.

Josh