At last night's annual player's party at The Rex Hotel (thanks to Bob, Tom and the whole crew for hosting a great event), a number of people asked me - "how can you look so calm two days before the festival?" There are two main answers. First, I'm lucky to have a fantastic group of colleagues who run a very tight ship - I can truly concentrate on my job (Artistic Direction) knowing that the festival will run as smoothly as it does every year (regardless of torrential downpours, such as the one currently taking place outside my window...).
Josh Grossman's blog
The 25th TD Toronto Jazz Festival kicks off in one short week (already!). Here at festival headquarters, we're busily preparing, making sure all is in order...and I'm hoping that you might be doing the same - making preparations to visit us during the ten days of the festival. I thought I would spend a few minutes making some recommendations for your visit, creating a "set list" of sorts - a few things to do or try which might make this year's jazz festival experience your best ever.
Try something new
The jazz world lost a major player on Monday with the unexpected passing of trombonist and band leader Dave McMurdo.
I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the first set of John MacLeod's Rex Hotel Orchestra gig this past Monday night at - where else - The Rex Hotel. The night had a festive air to it - beyond being a regular, last-Monday-of-the-month gig, it was a celebration of their recent JUNO Award win. The hang was fun and I got my picture taken with a JUNO award (which, I have to say, was kind of cool)...but best of all, perhaps? The music was outstanding.
I was invited to attend yesterday's announcement of Harbourfront Centre's SoundClash Music Award shortlist - the five bands who will be vying for the $5000 first prize. With jazz and jazz based music every-diversifying, I thought it would be good for me to go and check out some new bands. And, I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar names among the finalists.
Last night, I was one of the 500 or so audience members at Lee's Palace for a show by The Ex, a great Dutch punk/jazz/noise band, with local creative music notables The Swyves opening up. If was a fun show, and congratulations are due to Jonny Bunce (and the Music Gallery) and Ron Gaskin (and Rough Idea) for making it happen.
I was interviewed this past Monday for a publicity piece about Toronto events which will air in Buffalo and Rochester, and one of the questions asked was: "How does someone navigate the festival?" It's a good question - with over 300 shows at 60 venues in ten days, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to see, and where to see it! So - here now are my thoughts on navigating the 25th TD Toronto Jazz Festival...
I had the pleasure of playing last weekend at the wedding for the brother of a friend of mine (congratulations, Greg!). It was a relaxed affair and a fun evening. Before the band played, I had a chance to chat with the evening's bassist. We started discussing this year's festival lineup, and potential artists for future editions; he mentioned especially digging Avishai Cohen (the bassist), with one recent album in particular being on repeat.
So I asked him - "How much listening do you do?"
I try to keep this blog fairly neutral. When I talk about shows I've seen, I typically speak in broad terms - it's not really my job to review shows and if I tried, I might not be very good at it. That said, I saw a pretty outstanding show last night that I wanted to tell you about - Darren Sigesmund's Strands II at the Al Green Theatre.
How often has this happened: you exit a restaurant/concert/art gallery for the first time, having wholly enjoyed your experience, thinking, "Why have I not done this before?" Think about what got you there: were you invited by a friend? Were you attracted by a star chef, or a mystery ingredient? Was a work of art supposedly too outrageous to ignore? Or were you simply curious?