Okay, so, I'm a bit behind schedule. Who knew that the last day before a big festival could be such a circus? (Well, me, actually, but I was clearly employing selective memory...) But - we persevere.
Josh Grossman's blog
On the surface, artists who play traditional jazz and artists who play free jazz (or close to free jazz) are on polar opposite ends of the musical spectrum. But every time I listen to one or the other, I find similarities which surprise me. To my ear, early Dixieland music - with its group improvisation, even if carefully structured - for example, can at times sound just as cacophonous as some of the freest jazz.
For the next instalment of "let's talk about a bunch of free shows at the Festival!" (needs a catchier name, I know), I wanted to introduce some of the outstanding emerging talent performing for free in Yorkville this year.
Okay - day 2 of trying to summarize every free show at the Festival. After a momentary brain freeze ("How exactly do I group together all of these shows?!"), I've decided that today's entry would be purely chronological - first things first, as the saying goes.
For opening weekend this year we were aiming for a party inspired by soul, funk and r&b. We've certainly got that on our OLG Stage on Yorkville Avenue...but if we look at the opening weekend's programming on the whole, we discover quite an interesting range of music! Let's dive in.
A few weeks ago, our Publicity team asked me to choose 15 picks from the more than 150 free shows we're presenting at this year's Festival. That's kind of like asking me to choose which of my 150 children are my 15 favourite. (Or is that a weird comparison?) I LIKE THEM ALL EQUALLY.
But. For the purposes of exploring the free shows you can see at this year's Festival, it's a good place to start. And so - here are my first 20 or so picks. (Because I couldn't even get it down to 15.)
You know how when you say to yourself "okay, self, this time you're REALLY gonna write blog posts every week" and then suddenly it's two weeks before the Festival and a whole lotta time has gone by since your last post?
Just over three years ago, I had the opportunity to take my big band to Ottawa for a performance with a fantastic vocalist at the Shenkman Centre. Overall, it was a great experience - the promoter covered our bus trip plus one night of hotel accommodation, and the show was sold out - but the logistics? Oy. Making sure 17 musicians showed up on time for the bus pickup, then soundcheck, then show call and then the early morning lobby call the day after the show...I'm lucky that I knew how to conduct a four-beat pattern during the show!
What happens when you bring together four different band leaders, from a variety of musical and geographical worlds, to lead four different bands, all on the same night? I'm not sure, exactly, but no doubt great music will be made this Saturday night with the final Special Projects presentation of 2018.
The next two weeks are going to be busy, both on stage and off - while I work furiously to round out the Festival's programming and we prepare for our major media announcement, we've got a part in three upcoming shows: Special Projects this Friday (Adrean Farrugia and Joel Frahm release BLUED DHARMA) and Saturday (The Smith Sessions Presents: Bitches Brew); then the Israeli