Okay so before I get too far along with this post I have to declare a fairly strong bias. Alex Samaras is one of my favourite singers. He's performed with my big band on numerous occasions. I've seen him perform in a variety of settings. And I've booked him for the Festival. As far as I'm concerned, from a fundamental quality of instrument standpoint, from a musical interpretation standpoint, from an emotional connection to the music standpoint...he's simply one of the best. All of which, in short, answers the title of this post.
Welcome to the Artistic Director's Guide
The Artistic Director's Guide is our way of taking you "beyond the bio". Here you'll find audio and video clips, and I'll describe what I like about each artist and suggest why he or she is important to the scene. So dive in—use the menu options above to find an artist, and let's seek to answer "What's so good about...?"
Josh Grossman, Artistic Director
Toronto Downtown Jazz
It seems silly to say, but I sometimes forget just how good the musicians are who live in this city.
I do my best to keep track of the music and musicians creating buzz on the local jazz scene. But there are always artists who pop up in places I would not necessarily have expected to find them - often a "you play with them?!" moment. I feel as though the outstanding pianist/producer/composer/arranger Jeremy Ledbetter is one of those musicians.
So who knew planning a jazz festival could involve so much last-minute running around? (Yes, rhetorical.) I'm a bit later than I had hoped with this post, but it's my pleasure to round out this mini-series of AD's Guide entries by listing some of the outstanding Toronto jazz veterans performing free concerts at this year's TD Toronto Jazz Festival. There will be lots of names here you recognize, and maybe even some you don't. All are outstanding - these really are some of the best musicians in Canada (if not further afield). Here we go...
Alright - here we go - part 2 of the trilogy of posts hoping to help you navigate the variety of free programming at this year's TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Today - Toronto-based emerging artists.
The 2017 TD Toronto Jazz Festival is only one week away. Already. And while there are still loose ends to be tied and details to be finalized, a definite pre-festival buzz is starting to build. Everything (well, almost everything) feels a bit new this year, and I'm looking forward to having it all finally get underway.
In a word, Caravan Palace is fun. An integral part of the worldwide Electro Swing movement, Caravan Palace, based in Paris, France, takes traditional 1920's jazz sounds and mashes them up with electronic pop beats - think Django Reinhardt meets Daft Punk; picture flappers flitting to funk. The result is upbeat, high-energy, danceable music which is sure to get the Phoenix moving when they stop in on June 26.
Calling anyone "the greatest (insert instrument) player of all time" is recipe for endless debate. However - if the greatest jazz drummer of all time had to be crowned, Buddy Rich would certainly be a contender.
Okay - so I have to declare some bias here. I've had the good fortune of working with both Ingrid and Christine Jensen. Ingrid's one of my favourite trumpeters; Christine's writing for big band I think is some of the best in Canada (and the JUNO Awards have agreed twice). All that said - bias or no - I'm pretty excited that the Jensen sisters are coming to Toronto, along with guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Jon Wikan, for a project called Infinitude.