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.
Josh Grossman's blog
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?
After months of planning, hundreds of emails, countless phone calls, and more than 400 submissions, we announced the lineup for the 2011 TD Toronto Jazz Festival - our 25th edition - this past Tuesday, live-to-air on JAZZ.FM91. That seemed to go by rather quickly! A big thank you to everyone who was able to make it out to the event; to our colleagues in the media who have already done a great job in spreading the word about the festival; and to everyone who has sent me personal notes.
It's time for our big reveal! After months of planning, hundreds of emails, countless phone calls, and more than 400 submissions, we're ready to announce the lineup for the 2011 TD Toronto Jazz Festival - our 25th edition!
We're celebrating a few firsts this year; we're also paying tribute to the past 25 years with some outstanding return engagements, and over ten days presenting a wide range of music.
Eight years ago, I decided to do something financially silly, but musically rewarding: I decided to bring Kurt Elling to Toronto to perform with my big band, the Toronto Jazz Orchestra. It was an exciting event for all involved, and I took it upon myself to be Kurt's chauffeur for the few days he was in town (who could resist?!). I remember clearly, as we stepped into the car at the airport - me feeling proud at having pulled this all off - that he asked me how long the band had been together.
On my list of things to do this week was an audit of the Toronto Downtown Jazz website. I'm far from a web designer - I have the basic skills that allow me to design basic websites - so this was more about content and usability than anything else. One nice thing about thoroughly going through a website every once in a while is how it really makes me think about what should be on a particular page on a particular website. It's a good exercise that I sometimes feel is not done enough - there are a lot of bad websites out there (and who knows - my websites might be among them...).