With the City of Culture initiative, Toronto Downtown Jazz celebrates Toronto as a cultural destination generally, and a must-see destination for jazz lovers in particular. This series of eight concerts, each featuring a different artist in a different venue, performing an outstanding cross-section of jazz and jazz-related music, highlights some of the incredible musicians whose talent is on display here in Toronto every day throughout the year – and on our stages at the annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival, celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2022.
Thomas Francis is one of Toronto’s leading pianists, well-known for his extensive background in jazz and soul-based musics. He has performed and recorded with an impressive cross-section of Canadian musicians spanning everything from jazz and country to soul and disco. Recorded at Poetry Jazz Café which, since 2010, has showcased local, Canadian and international artists performing music and spoken word with an emphasis on the history of these art forms and their roots in Black culture. Poetry is housed in Toronto’s incredible Kensington Market, whose roots go back to the 18th century, and which today is a richly multicultural downtown neighbourhood known for its independent spirit, colourful shop-fronts, charismatic locals, family-friendly events, and over 240 unique and eclectic businesses.
The City of Culture initiative has been made possible by the generous support of Reconnect Ontario, from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. We’re grateful for the continued support of our title sponsor, TD, and we’d like to thank our media partners JAZZ.FM91 and The Toronto Star.
Click here for the complete list of City of Culture concerts and mini-documentaries.
Thomas Francis Friends
Thomas Francis - keys
Joanna Majoko - vocals
Andrew McAnsh - trumpet
JT Kim - bass
Robin Claxton - drums
Thomas Francis is one of Toronto’s leading pianists, well-known for his extensive background in jazz and soul-based musics. He grew up in a house full of music, and has a shared a family lineage of musicianship. Thomas became sensitive to the structure of classical and standards while feeding off of the musicality and expression of Jazz, Soul, Latin and Funk musics. He began piano lessons at age five, making his way to jazz studies at age 8. At 16, Thomas was awarded Downbeat’s Outstanding Performance award, and in the summer of 2007 joined the Toronto All-Star Big Band. He completed his diploma at Humber College and went on to complete his B.F.A in Music at York University. In 2017, Thomas completed his Master of Arts in Composition, for which he wrote a thesis on the relationship between Jazz and Hip-Hop musics. Thomas can often be seen playing with Canadian icons such as Juno winning Jazz vocalist Kellylee Evans, Pop artist Dan Talevski, or R&B and Soul diva Elise LeGrow. He has performed and/or recorded with Tony Royster Jr. (Jay-Z), Alexis Baro (Gemini Award winning Jazz artist), Melanie Durrant (Juno nominated R&B artist), KC Roberts & The Live Revolution (Toronto Funk band), The Reklaws (Canadian Country duo), and George St. Kitts (Toronto Soul icon). He was also musical director for The Spandettes, a female-fronted, Toronto-based, Disco/R&B group, with whom he toured to Japan. Thomas can be seen in his element with his instrumental Hip-Hop/Jazz ensemble, Thomas Francis Friends.