Downtown Jazz Fest Picks

24.6.05

What excites me most about the 2005 TD Canada Trust Downtown Jazz Fest is that they have begun programming workshops again. They used to run a workshop series at Harbourfront Centre back in the days when it was the DuMaurier Downtown Jazz Fest. The workshops aren't just for musicians - there will be talks from radio personalities and artists managers as well workshops for players.

I won't be making it to all of the shows that I've picked out myself, but I think that they'd all be worth checking out, especially if you are looking for a mixed bag of different kinds of jazz.

My top picks are Roy Hargrove, Ed Thigpen and Dick Hyman. Stay tuned for reviews of the shows I do get to see!

FREE SHOWS

Friday, June 24th

Hot Club Trio @ Alexander The Great Parkette @ Danforth & Logan @ 5:30pm
Traditional, swinging trio jazz from local musicians including Reg Schwager on guitar.

Saturday, June 25th

Tikisa @ Alexander The Great Parkette @ Danforth & Logan @ 4pm
Fun, world beat jazz.

Sunday, June 26th

Ed Thigpen’s Scantet @ Nathan Phillips Square @ 1pm
Thigpen is a LEGEND. He was the drummer with the renowned Oscar Peterson Trio – considered one of the best, if not the best, trios in the history of jazz.

Monday, June 27th

Jane Bunnett @ Nathan Phillips Square @ 4pm
Jane has been awarded the Order of Canada for the work she has done to help promote Cuban musicians. Her playing is warm and rhythmic and she’s a pretty lady who as I have discussed earlier, sometimes wears pigtails on stage!

Tuesday, June 28th

Meh.

Wednesday, June 29th

Everything Irie Jazz Ensemble @ Nathan Phillips Square @ 4pm
Reggae Jazz? Why not!

Thursday, June 30th

Tony Quarrington Trio @ Alexander The Great Parkette @ Danforth & Logan @ 5:30pm
Tony is a great, swinging guitarist (and if you like what you hear, he’s playing a gig on Canada Day with Jim “the robot” Clayton...not part of the fest...in Bloor West Village)

Friday, July 1st (Canada Day)

The Rob McConnell Tentet @ Nathan Phillips Square @ 12noon
Canadian Big Band! McConnell’s between tune banter is funny to boot!

Saturday, July 2nd

Sweet and Real Hot Swing Session @ Nathan Phillips Square @ 1pm
Trad, swinging, Dixieland style jazz. They don’t have the players listed, but my assumption is that Jim Galloway will be playing Soprano Sax, he’s the artistic director of the fest, and nobody in TO swings harder!

Sunday, July 3rd

Meh.


TICKETED SHOWS

Friday, June 24th

Sonny Rollins @ Massey Hall @ 8pm $49.50-89.50
Sonny is one of the greats of Bebop. Has played with the likes of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. No need to say more.

Saturday, June 25th

Jimmy Bowskill @ Nathan Phillips Square Tent @ Midnight $10
Some kid who plays blues guitar. Seriously, he’s like 12 years old or something. The buzz on him is great.

Sunday, June 26th

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio @ The Mod Club @ 9pm $25
One of the most influential Hammond B3 players ever. Funky, cool, organ jazz, he played with George Benson in the 60’s. Cool Little Italy location too...they are selling tickets for this through Ticketmaster, but there will be availability at the door, I think.

Monday, June 27th

Madeski, Martin & Wood @ Nathan Phillips Square Tent @ 8pm $30
Funky, danceable, modern jazz.

Tuesday, June 28th

Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor @ Nathan Phillips Square Tent @ 8pm $35
Hargrove came out of the “young lions" movement of the 90’s, and in my opinion, is one of the top three trumpet players playing straight ahead bebop today. This is his funkier, more modern band. This sound is classified as “neo soul”. It’s a KICK ASS band. I saw the CD launch a few years ago and listen to the CD at least once a week to this day.

Wednesday, June 29th

Meh.

Thursday, June 30th

Kenny Garrett Quartet and Joshua Redman’s Elastic Band @ Nathan Phillips Square Tent @ 8pm $35
Garrett is hard bop at it’s best, Redman’s another “young lion” who is experimenting with “electric groove based” jazz. Should be FAB! The price is a bargain for what you are getting.

Friday, July 1st (Canada Day)

“Real Divas” @ Nathan Phillips Square Tent @ 8pm $25
Ten local female singers share the stage. It’s a mixed bag...not everyone on the bill is great, but some of them are magnificent. If you are into female vocalists it’s a great show to check out.

Saturday, July 2nd

Meh.

Sunday, July 3rd

Meh.

CLUB DATES

There are two late night jams, every night of the fest. This is the first year that they've done more than one location for the jam, so it will be interesting to see what tone they each take on. My guess is that the one at the Rex (on Queen West) will have more young and more local musicians. It will probably be "hipper" than the jam they are having at Sage Restaurant, which is in the Sutton Place Hotel at the corner of Bay and Wellesley. The crowd at Sage might be interesting if any of the out of town musicians are staying at that hotel. This will be, I imagine, less "hip" but probably more "sophisticated". The cover is $10 and you can stay and drink from 1am - 4am. Usually lots of fun!

Friday, June 24th

Lorne Lofsky / Rob Pilch Guitar Duets @ Mezzetta (St. Claire and Christie)
Two Sets 9pm and 10:15pm - $9 cover
World class local musicians who have played with the likes of Oscar Peterson and Ed Bickert.

Saturday, June 25th

Happy Pals Dixieland Jazz Band @ Grossman’s Tavern (Spadina and College)
4:30pm – no cover
Fun, old school dixieland and cheap beer.

Sunday, June 26th

Melissa Stylianou Sextet @ The Rex (Queen West)
9:00pm – cover
Very good local singer, who has inventive interpretations of tunes.

Monday, June 27th

Dick Hyman, solo piano @ Montreal Bistro (Sherbourne and King)
9:00pm - $20 + tax cover
Dick Hyman is the music director on all of Woody Allen’s movies (and a great piano player)!

Tuesday, June 28th

Benny Green and Russell Malone @ Top O’ the Senator (Victoria Street, near Dundas)
8:30pm – cover
Great players from the States! Not everyday you get a chance to see players of this calibre.

Wednesday, June 29th

Club Django Sextet
Traders @ Sheraton Centre Hotel (Queen Street, across from City Hall)
8:00pm – cover
Old school “gypsy jazz”

Thursday, June 30th

Tabby Johnson and Friends
Traders @ Sheraton Centre Hotel (Queen Street, across from City Hall)
8:00pm – cover
Tabby is Molly Johnson and Clark Johnson’s older sister – talent runs in the family.

Friday, July 1st (Canada Day)

Hey, look it’s...
Terra Hazelton and Her Easy Answers! @ Grossman’s Tavern (Spadina and College)
10pm - no cover

Saturday, July 2nd

Oliver Jones @ The Montreal Bistro (Sherbourne and King)
9pm - $20 + tax cover
Jones is a master piano player (and another member of The Order of Canada)! His sound is VERY similar to Oscar Peterson’s, so if you like Oscar you’ll love Oliver. This is also worth seeing as he doesn’t come out of retirement very often...

Sunday, July 3rd

Sheila Jordon @ Top O’ the Senator (Victoria Street, near Dundas)
9:30pm – cover
Sheila’s first influence was Charlie Parker and she studied with the likes of Charles Mingus. She sings like an instrumentalist, with sweeping changes in pitch and unexpected improvisations. Her sound isn’t for everyone, but it is fascinating. This could also be your last chance to see jazz in this room as they will be under new management after the fest....

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