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June Jazz Picks

June 15, 2011

With good weather finally here, summer festivals on the horizon, and jazz musicians on the move around the continent, there’s any number of great shows to choose from this month in our region. Here’s a few particularly promising possibilities:

Hailey Niswanger Quartet on Salt Spring Island

This 21-year-old saxophone sensation, raised in Portland and heralded “as a leading light for the next generation of jazz musicians” by Nat Hentoff in the Wall Street Journal, is definitely worth the trip to Salt Spring Island when she appears at ArtSpring on Wednesday, June 15 at 8pm.

Niswanger (pronounced “NICE wonger”), a full scholarship student at Berklee, has already appeared on stage with the likes of Phil Woods, McCoy Tyner, and Christian McBride, and  wowed jazz critics across North America with her debut CD “Confeddie” released in 2009 when she was only 19.  A quick listen on her website makes it clear why. She’s got mature straight-ahead alto and soprano sax sounds that completely belie her age. Wow!

Victoria International JazzFest

Amanda Tosoff appears with her quintet and trumpeter Brad Turner at Victoria's Jazzfest International

It’s getting harder to find the jazz amongst the pop, blues, and roots music at jazz festivals across the country, but you can still find many jazz gems amidst the diversity that the festival organizers claim is an economic necessity to attract large audiences that keep the festivals going.

Whether that’s true or not, here’s a few  suggestions for Victoria’s upcoming event that demonstrate that jazz itself contains all the diversity one could ever want in a festival:

Marianne Trudel Septet: classically tinged, impressionistic jazz that will blow your socks off.

Hilario Duran Latin Jazz Band with Jane Bunnett: a heavenly marriage between two virtuosic masters of Afro-Cuban music that will also include the incredible Phil Dwyer on saxophone in Duran’s 13 piece orchestra.

Misha Piatigorsky’s Sketchy Black Dog: Bowie, Zeppelin and Hendrix like you’ve never heard them before.

Christian McBride and Inside Straight: simply the best straight ahead jazz  that you’ll hear on the planet.

Amanda Tosoff Quintet featuring Brad Turner: some of the best young players of straight ahead jazz in the country with the added feature of the incredible Brad Turner on trumpet.

Sean Drabitt Band and the Robert Glasper Trio: an accomplished trio led by a local favourite with tonnes of New Orleans and New York experience along with an innovative, hip-hop influenced young Blue Note jazz pianist leading his own trio into new territory.

Nick La Riviere Septet: the always surprising and exciting Victoria trombone whiz who playfully mixes standards and originals.

And there’s plenty more where that came from in the jazz fest program. Check it out.


Be sure to check out the shows offered all summer long in the downstairs room of the Acme Food Co., a restaurant on Commercial St. in Nanaimo. On June 22 you can catch East West featuring Kyla Campbell, a young Montreal-based experimental jazz vocalist originally from Qualicum whose music has caught the attention of the folks at the Banff Centre.

Ingrid and Christine Jensen will be appearing in July. More info to come.


Although Phil Dwyer has taken a break from offering his popular summer jazz camp and from organizing Jazz in the Garden at Milner Gardens, The Old Schoolhouse under the direction of Ron Hadley will continue its Sunday music series that includes a bit of jazz here and there. Check it out via the link in the sidebar.


The Georgia Straight Jazz Society is taking a break for the summer but they have one final concert on June 16 featuring the Little Big Band and a Summer Jazz Series is planned every Thursday night at the Elks Hall under the direction of one their members.

More summer jazz options to come. Stay tuned.

Categories: Events
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