The TD Toronto Jazz Festival returns this summer with the TD Toronto Jazz Festival Summer Concert Series, a weekly concert series broadcasting live from the JAZZ.FM91 studios. Every Friday at 5 pm from July 2 to September 3, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival Summer Concert Series, presented by TD, features some of the most outstanding and sought-after musicians in the city – local legends and leading lights of Toronto’s jazz scene - and kicks off our 35th anniversary celebrations, which culminates in the 35th edition of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in June, 2022.
The 2021 Series highlights 10 local acts who each bring their own unique perspective to the performance of jazz, and reflect a variety of the elements which have been part of the Festival over the past 35 years: from emerging artists and young lions to the best of the best; from traditional jazz to new sounds; from mentorship to community connections. Each weekly performance will air live on JAZZ.FM91 and stream on Facebook.
The TD Toronto Jazz Festival Summer Concert Series is presented by TD
Jazz has always been inextricably connected to the Blues, and some of the biggest names in Blues music have graced our stages. Just as jazz has been influenced – and adapted – by an enormous variety of cultures and traditions, so has the Blues. Shakura S'Aida brings her own unique musical perspective – a mix of blues, soul and rock – to her powerhouse sets. Full details here.
The Festival has always been an important platform for emerging artists, connecting them with new fans and new venues – artists like Harry Connick Jr.,, Snarky Puppy and even Diana Krall started as club acts and quickly grew into major draws; Medeski Martin & Wood started as relative unknowns at the 100-capacity Rivoli and built a loyal Festival audience which would later help them sell out our 1400-capacity tent. Sammy Jackson may be headed on that same trajectory – her debut album just won the 2021 JUNO Award in the Best Vocal Jazz category – while at the same time representing a line of outstanding vocalists presented by the Festival including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dianne Reeves and more. Full details here.
Toronto is home to one of the largest Cuban populations outside of Cuba, and Cuban musical traditions have been well-represented on our stages over the years. From visiting artists like Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the Afro-Cuban All Stars and Omara Portuondo to legendary local artists like Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran and OKAN, Cuban sounds have played an important role in each year’s Festival programming. Elmer Ferrer is one of the local Cuban community’s most exciting players – a fiery guitarist who takes a decidedly contemporary approach to Cuban musical traditions, earning him a regular spot in the band of Larnell Lewis, and a 2021 JUNO Award nomination for his own music. Full details here.
Jazz started in the streets and has always been a community music – a mandate the Festival has sought to continue each year by presenting some of the biggest names on a variety of stages for free. Since its beginnings, jazz fans have attended the Festival and experienced the best music in the world barrier free, allowing for unparalleled musical exploration and discovery – we’ve presented more than 3,500 free shows over the past 35 years! The Shuffle Demons are an outstanding reflection of this community approach, bringing people together wherever and whenever they play. Full details here.
From Christian McBride to Geoffrey Keezer, Gregory Porter to Esperanza Spalding, to some of today's biggest local names, the Festival has always taken pride in presenting musicians who have gone on to make a major impact on the international jazz scene, but who were early in their careers when they first played the Festival. We even introduced a young Harry Connick Jr. to Toronto in 1989! Jesse Ryan continues this tradition – winner of the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist award in 2020, he released his debut album the same year and has already made a substantial mark on the Toronto scene with his unique blend of jazz and Caribbean musical traditions. Full details here.
Since 1987, at least 85% of Festival performers have been Canadian. From the smallest clubs to the biggest stages, the Festival has provided an outstanding development opportunities for musicians from across the country, whether just emerging, or well-established…and each artist brings a unique perspective to their music of what it means to be Canadian. Joe Sealy is a great example – a Canadian jazz legend, he brought to life the Africville Suite: a groundbreaking work musically, but also a vital showcase of a difficult period in the Canadian history of race relations – a history which Joe experienced first hand. His performance of the Africville Suite at the 1996 Festival remains one of our most important moments. Full details here.
From Doc Cheatham to Houston Person, Jim Galloway to Martin Loomer, the Festival has always acknowledged its roots and the traditional sounds of early jazz. Past editions of the Festival featured an annual jazz parade and jazz cruises, highlighting the best in local trad talent with occasional guest visiting artists; our free, Loony and Toonie tunes concerts over the years showcased a variety of artists from at home and abroad who represented the history of jazz. Alex Pangman is one of Canada’s best practitioners of jazz from the 20’s and 30’s, keeping alive the spirit of traditional jazz which has been on display at the Festival each year. Full details here.
The Festival has always sought to be on top of musical trends, especially as they relate to jazz. Artists like Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman and Esperanza Spalding have all brought their mix of jazz, R&B, soul, funk and hip hop to our stages, carving new musical paths and bringing in new audiences along the way – as demonstrated by their Grammy nominations in distinctly non-jazz categories. Toronto’s internationally acclaimed bassist Rich Brown has taken a similar approach on the Festival stage with his groups like rinsethealgorithm and The Abeng, earning three National Jazz Award nominations for “Electric Group of the Year”, and attention from touring artists list Rudresh Mahanthappa, James “Blood” Ulmer and Jane Siberry, among others. Full details here.
The Festival has sought each year to present the best of the best – artists like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn and Dave Brubeck (who had an open invitation to return to perform at the Festival whenever he liked), alongside Canadian legends Oscar Peterson, Rob McConnell, Peter Appleyard, and Moe Koffman. Lorne Lofsky is one of Canada’s best – an internationally acclaimed guitarist, for three years he was a regular member of the Oscar Peterson Quartet, while being a first call guitarist for visiting artists like Chet Baker, Joey DeFrancesco, Ray Brown and Dave Holland, among others. Lorne continues to produce outstanding music, having recently released the first album under his own name in over twenty years. Full details here.
The Toronto Jazz Festival burst out of the gates in 1987 with eight days of outstanding music. That first Festival established our mandate of featuring the best jazz musicians from Toronto, across the country and around the world – and Canadian jazz treasure Jane Bunnett was there. Jane played the first ever Toronto Jazz Festival and since then has remained a Festival regular, showcasing her substantial and varied body of work. Full details here.