Artists flocking to the great city of Toronto for ten days of jamming at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival are guaranteed to ramp up the heat this summer. Sound your horns and tune your guitars for the extraordinary talents of local and international jazz musicians from June 18-29.
With only a few days to go until opening day, and with over 100 concerts and multiple venue choices, where will you begin? Whether you have twenty minutes in the afternoon or three hours at night, you can find a show that suits your musical taste, schedule and of course your pocketbook.
With so many free and ticketed concerts happening around the city, you're sure to find some hot music somewhere. Only 20 minutes to scarf down lunch? Why not entice both your culinary and artistic sides at the free Lunchtime Series hosted at Nathan Phillips Square. Looking to spice up your after dinner routine? Check out the plethora of free shows going on at Shops at Don Mills. For your weekend excursion, ticketed shows are available for some the biggest names in the jazz today! Here's a selection of the shows on offer.
FREE Lunchtime Series at Nathan Phillips Square
Monday, June 22, 12:30pm – Jim Galloway’s Wee Big Band with Martin Loomer
A unique and local enthusiasm shines from this classic swinging big band. This legendary orchestra has over 400 arrangements in its repertoire, reputedly the most extensive collection of any Canadian big band. The Wee Big Band brings bouncy, upbeat rhythms alongside classic orchestral masterpieces, notably the music of Duke Ellington. Their album Blue Reverie (Sackville) was the last album ever released at the famous Montreal Bistro & Jazz Club in Toronto. With Jim Galloway’s recent passing in December, the band will surely be in top form for this performance in his honour.
Wednesday, June 24, 12:30pm - Ian McDougall 12-Tet
This Canadian trombonist brings flare and energy to the stage with unimaginable speed and precision. McDougall is well known for his work as lead trombone and soloist with Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass. He was also a founding member of the joyful sound that is the Brass Connection. The Juno award-winner’s musical background and intoxicating rhythms are guaranteed to draw spectators.
Thursday, June 25, 12:30pm - Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra featuring Ingrid Jensen
Sisters Christine and Ingrid Jensen have quickly gained traction in the Canadian jazz community. The Montreal-based siblings will band together to showcase compelling compositions demonstrating their individual styles in complete musical harmony. Christine Jensen pursues long-form, almost episodic writing that continues to evolve and mature as she does. In a relatively short time, she has established herself as a world-class writer.
Friday, June 26, 12:30pm - Bobby Rice Latin Jazz Big Band
Soothing, soulful vibes radiate from Juno award-winning Bobby Rice and his Latin Jazz Big Band. Enjoy the rich tones of Latin America as each musician’s strength is extracted and mashed together to create the perfect musical balance. Rice has a gift for big band writing and expressive composition.
FREE Evening Shows at Shops at Don Mills
Tuesday, June 23, 6:00pm – Saxofour
Austria’s Saxofour will grace the stage with an entertaining mix of standards, pop, experimental jazz and free improvisation. Unlike traditional quartets, this remarkable four-some consists only of saxophones and successfully achieves the difficult feat of harmonizing four layers within the same tonal range. Saxofour avoids conventional duets between alto and baritone to create its fresh sounds. The freedom in their basic form makes for a compelling performance.
Wednesday, June 24, 6:00pm - Yuka
Yuka’s dynamic and infectious funk style can be heard in dance clubs across the GTA. The five-piece team of energetic instrumentalists support Claire Doyle’s humbling and passionate vocals. The local Toronto jazz grads use funk, soul and jazz as the foundation for the Yuka sound, while classic and psychedelic rock, and a fusion of other genres, are integrated to produce modern and eclectic pieces. Yuka continues to bring its ground-breaking sound to the forefront of the Toronto music scene.
Thursday, June 25, 7:00pm - Lula All Stars
The spicy salsa of the Lula All Stars is set to inspire the dance floor. Led by Sean Bellaviti and Luis Orbegoso, Lula All Stars are exciting audiences and encouraging movement and expression within Canada’s diverse and multicultural salsa scene. The group’s lively and vigorous blend of contemporary Latin and Cuban rhythms combined with elements of jazz, rock and soul music will have everyone on their feet.
Ticketed shows are also available for many highly acclaimed and celebrated artists. With concerts priced for every budget, everyone can join in on the festivities. What better time to celebrate than the weekend? Here's are a few choices.
TICKETED Weekend Main Stage Concerts
Hosted on the Toronto Star Stage at Nathan Phillips Square, the Main Stage Concert Series showcases some of the biggest names in Canadian and international jazz. Tickets range from $28 to 59.90.
Saturday, June 20, 8:30pm-Tower of Power ($49)
Tower of Power delivers a unique brand of soul music internationally to sold-out crowds. Since their inception the band has never stopped touring and recording, with annual performances in the United States, Japan and Europe. TOP has established a loyal and dedicated fan base often willing to travel to see this remarkable band play. This ten-piece band is exciting new generations of fans to embrace their timeless and enchanting sound.
Sunday June 21, 8:30pm - The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra ($43.50)
This 17-time Grammy nominated big band features 19 performers celebrating the Kansas City swing style. The orchestra plays in exaggerated fashion, emphasizing loud and soft sounds, making for an exciting and lively performance. Commanding the stage for 80 years, the Count Basie Orchestra is world-renowned for its compelling performances.
Saturday, June 27, 8:30pm - Gary Clark Jr. ($59.90)
The soulful guitar and vocal stylings of Grammy nominated Gary Clark Jr. will soon flood the stage. Clark continues to expand his repertoire at an exponential rate. His impressive guitar and song writing skills have grasped the hearts of doe-eyed audiences across the world. Rock and R&B, blues, soul, pop, psychedelic and hip hop are just a few of the genres from which Clark finds inspiration for his music. His acoustic blues performances on the 12 Years a Slave soundtrack album exemplified his versatile talents and personality.
For late night music cravings, try The Rex Blues and Jazz Bar at 194 Queen Street West. Since the 1980’s, The Rex has been the local hotspot for jazz musicians. With its casual, retro-chic atmosphere and well-known reputation, it is a central venue of the jazz festival complete with an extensive list of performances. They keep their cover charge affordable for the budget-conscious.
And for those nights when last call seems to come too early, The Painted Lady at 218 Ossington Avenue has you covered. With a 4 a.m. after hour license, this lady is sure to keep the party going with her burlesque style appeal.