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Picking the Best of the Fest

June 22, 2012

The TD Victoria International JazzFest is upon us and if you are like many people, you’re probably only now scrambling to figure out what to see. Here are the shows I’ve put on my list.

In no particular order:

The Barry Elmes Quintet: five of the very best from Toronto, including Reg Schwager, one of the most tasteful jazz guitarists in the country. Hermann’s.

DBLT tribute to Bill Evans/Phil Dwyer sextet featuring Laila Biali: This killer double bill has the potential to be the best show in the fest with a who’s who of great Canadian musicians and a program that goes from Bill Evans to Joni Mitchell. Alix Goolden Hall

Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon:  Guitarist Michael Occhipinti’s jazzified re-imagining of John Lennon with a superb septet  including his brother Roberto on bass and three Juno-nominated vocalists. Hermann’s

Pablo Cardenas Project Fusion: After Phil Dwyer, who is no slouch himself, heard this guy play piano, he announced that he would just be sticking to sax for the rest of the evening. Say no more.  Centennial Square

Caravan featuring Marc Atkinson and Daniel Lapp: expect nothing less than multi-genre fireworks. These guys will burn the Victoria Event Centre down.

Black/White/McRae/Styffe Quartet: crazy name but it speaks to the fact that each of these musicians is a force unto himself. Expect great musicianship and fun. Hermann’s

Wayne Shorter Quartet with Brian Blade on drums: I’d go just to see and hear Blade, one of the consummate drummers on the scene today. Shorter and the rest of the quartet are gravy after that. It’s in the Royal but the jazz will be very outside.

Kelby McNayr Quintet: MacNayr is going from strength to strength, particularly in his choice of personnel and his work in Vancouver and south of the border to cross-fertilize the local scene. Cool lineup this time around including Dan Lapp on trumpet and players from Seattle, Vancouver and Portland. The Office and Centennial Square

Anne Schaefer: One of the most original singer-songwriters in the country who blends, jazz, folk, and world in delightfully melodic, rhythmic off-kilter arrangements of her own songs. So why has VJS put her in Centennial Square?

Monik Nordine and Departure: Nordine is a great sax player backed by a stellar group including Brent Jarvis on piano, Ken Lister on bass and Buff Allen on drums. Wisely they’ve been put in Hermann’s.

That’s ten. I’m going to stop there because I probably won’t get to them all. Of course I also want to see Dianne Reeves, Robert Randolph, and others. Sigh.  Anyway, make your own list and enjoy the festival.

Categories: Events
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