Okay, so, I’m a bit behind schedule. Who knew that the last day before a big festival could be such a circus? (Well, me, actually, but I was clearly employing selective memory…) But – we persevere.
In this blog post I’ll touch on the idea of music from “further afield”. I’ll admit it – I’m stretching things a bit…especially since some of these acts are from right here at home. But whether they’re bringing a flavour from some other home base, or mixing in some of the varying flavours we can find throughout Toronto, I would suggest that these are acts that you wouldn’t necessarily hear on your regular jazz travels.
Louis Simao: Monday June 25, 3:15 pm on the OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
Toronto-based Louis SimĂŁo has been composing, performing and recording as a multi-instrumentalist in a variety of genres for over twenty years. He says he aims to take the listener on a journey through the sounds of the Portuguese-speaking world as experienced through the life of a first-generation Canadian son of Portuguese immigrants. Lots of Brazilian grooves here, but a strong sense of adventure – in part because you never know which instrument Louis will pick up next!
Katie Thiroux: Monday June 25, 5:15 pm on the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue
Katie’s submission to the Festival a couple of years back was a total cold call – I had never heard of her. But her voice is outstanding, and I can see why she’s been called a triple threat talent – for her bass playing, singing and composing – but such heavyweights as Quincy Jones. Based in Los Angeles, this is her Toronto debut!
Eliana Cuevas: Tuesday June 26, 12:30 pm on the OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
Eliana Cuevas has long been one of my favourite local vocalists, in part thanks to the quality of her voice, but thanks also to the flexibility of her instrument. She has an impressive range, outstanding accuracy and infuses her compositions with her Venezuelan roots. She stands out for all of the best reasons.
Banda Magda: Tuesday June 26, 5:15 pm on the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue
This one will be fun. Based in New York, Banda Magda features musicians from Greece, Argentina, Japan, Colombia and the United States, making their music nearly impossible to categorize: expect South American rhythms, jazz improvisation, cinematic arranging, sophisticated audience participation, mid-century classics and world â€śchansonsâ€ť sung in 6 languages. And a ton of energy, especially from lead vocalist Magda Giannikou.
Sandro Dominelli Trio: Tuesday June 26, 6:00 pm on the OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
I’m looking forward to this one. Edmonton-based drummer Sandro Dominelli gathers up Canadian expat bassist (and author and house builder) Chris Tarry and eclectic guitarist Rez Abbasi for their take on modern jazz. They’ll be playing some of the music recently recorded on the trio’s first album; you’ll hear a variety of musical influences and some top-notch soloing.
Lenka Lichtenbergâ€™s Masaryk Sextet: Tuesday June 26, 7:00 pm at Church of the Redeemer
Toronto-based vocalist Lenka Lichtenberg’s impressively versatile voice lends itself to a variety of musical traditions – which is perfect as she’s so often traveling around the world. With the Masaryk Sextet Lenka explores Czech, Moravian and Slovak folk songs, with a mix of acoustic instruments and electronics.
Les Malcommodes & Sonia Johnson: Tuesday June 26, 7:00 pm at Heliconian Hall
Led by the exciting Swiss-born, Montreal-based pianist Felix Stussi, Les Malcommodes – rounded out by bassist Daniel Lessard and drummer Pierre Tanguay – play complex yet playful music. They’re joined here by Sonia Johnson, an impressive vocalist, for an evening of sonic exploration.
Gwyneth Herbert: Wednesday June 27, 5:15 pm on the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue
Making her second Festival appearance under the Made in UK banner, unique vocalist Gwyneth Herbert takes the concept of “unpredictable” to the next level. She uses her outstanding voice in wholly imaginative ways; storytelling is always front-and-centre in her performances – I seem to recall a bevy of comical props and an impressive array of instruments at her show a few years back. She’s a wonderfully engaging performer – we’re glad to have her back!
Jean-Michel Pilc Trio: Wednesday June 27, 6:00 pm on the OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
Paris-born American pianist Jean-Michel Pilc has played with some of the biggest names on the international jazz scene. Having recently joined the music faculty at McGill University, he’s now making an important contribution to the Montreal jazz community. For his “Montreal” Trio, he teams up with two of Canada’s top musical collaborators: bassist RĂ©mi-Jean Leblanc and drummer Jim Doxas. This will swing hard, and the solos will soar.
Tio Chorinho: Thursday June 28, 5:15 pm on the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue
Described as the “original Brazilian soul music”, choro is a primarily instrumental musical form which originated in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Under the direction of Ashkenaz Festival Artistic Director Eric Stein, Toronto-based Tio Chorinho has been performing throughout Southern Ontario since 2009. This mix of guitar, ukulele, percussion and more will transport you to Brazil.
Surefire Sweat: Friday June 29, 6:00 pm on the OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
Local party band Surefire Sweat draws on a variety of musical traditions including funk, jazz, brass band, blues and Afrobeat. When listening to their submission I just couldn’t sit still – so I figured a stage in a park would be a great setting. Dancing isn’t mandatory, but I’m pretty sure it’ll happen anyway…
Mallory Chipman Quintet: Sunday July 1, 2:30 pm on the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue
Mallory’s submission was another cold call – I hadn’t heard her before this past fall. But I was hooked right from the first track – a pure, flexible voice, an adventurous approach to singing, and excellent arrangements. For her Toronto debut, the Edmonton-based musician will perform a mix of originals and unique interpretations of Leonard Cohen tunes.
Marito Marques: Sunday July 1, 8:00 pm on the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue
The term “world music” is a bit nebulous, but in the case of Marito Marques – whose musical style is somewhat hard to nail down – it may well apply. Mashing up African roots music with jazz and pop, Marito, originally from Portugal, consistently crafts interesting and lush compositions which are unique on the Toronto scene. I look forward to hearing live the variety of sounds he brings to each tune.
Filo Machado & Escola de Samba de Toronto: Sunday July 1, 8:30 pm on the OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
Closing out the Festival’s free outdoor programming is another multicultural ensemble, fitting perhaps on Canada Day. We welcome back the outstanding Brazilian guitarist, singer and composer Filo Machado, in a collaboration with local musicians under the direction of percussionist Alan Hetherington. And we’re throwing in high energy samba group Escola de Samba de Toronto for good measure – it’s a celebration, after all!
So let’s see…who’s left? Oh yeah – just some of Canada’s top musical talent! I’ll do one more blog post before I slip into running-around-listening-to-music-all-day mode, in which I’ll endeavour to highlight some of the outstanding local jazz musicians not yet mentioned in my other posts. As always, I encourage you to check out the full daily lineup on our website.
We’re almost there!