Toronto’s ART the Band is a group that plays fast and loose with the traditional notions of jazz, melding several different influences together from funk to hip-hop to provide a more unique take on the genre. Consisting of trombonist Nick Marshall, guitarist Sean Clarey, bassist David Maclean, saxophonist Stuart Brignell, and drummer Austin Gembora, the band played at the Pilot Tavern during this year's TD Toronto Jazz Festival (the Festival).
The TDJ News Corps
The TDJ News Corps is an annual initiative geared towards post-secondary students who are interested in writing about jazz. Successful applicants to the TDJ News Corps program are given full media accreditation for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, granting them unprecedented access to the festival – attending and reviewing concerts for free, interviewing artists and experiencing the festival from behind the scenes. In addition, TDJ News Corps members are assigned a mentor – an experienced music journalist.
The 2018 TDJ News Corps participants are Jaimie Nackan, a media student at University of Guelph-Humber, and Matt Yuyitung, a recent graduate from Carleton University’s journalism program. Mentors for 2018 are Karen Bliss, Canadian correspondent for Billboard and founder/editor-in-chief of Samaritanmag.com, and Del Cowie, music journalist and editor who was written for CBC Music, National Post, Noisey, NOW and Exclaim!.
Check this page throughout the Festival for TDJ News Corps articles – concert reviews, artist interviews and other editorial content.
From June 22nd to July 1st, this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival featured no shortage of highlights, from tons of free content to powerhouse marquee shows including names like Herbie Hancock, Holly Cole, Snarky Puppy, and Gregory Porter. Here are some personal highlights from this past year - moments that featured dazzling musicianship or which captured the artist at their best this festival.
1. "Chameleon" - Herbie Hancock
As Herbie Hancock stepped out on stage at the Sony Centre on Friday night (June 29), he told the audience to prepare for a journey "to the unknown." And if there's anyone that's worth trusting with that type of promise, it's Hancock.
An artist whose restless creativity has placed at the forefront different genres such as funk and jazz fusion, who has recorded with everyone from Miles Davis to Joni Mitchell, and who even at 78 years old can bring groove like no one else, Hancock seems like the perfect candidate to take audiences on whirlwind adventures.
Alex Pangman, otherwise known as "Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing", performed last Tuesday, June 26, at Heliconian Hall for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. She sang from her new record, Alex Pangman’s Hot Three, as well as other classics. Her live performance was filled with sass, humour, and cheek, which perfectly fit the themes of the new record. It was a joy to see her perform live, and watching her make musical decisions onstage before each song was an interesting snapshot of how she makes her creative choices.
By their very nature, Snarky Puppy can be unpredictable in the wildest ways. The Brooklyn-based band is a constantly rotating lineup of musicians, drawing from all over their catalogue for their setlists, and they're constantly reinventing and reinterpreting their own work during performances. Striking a balance between singable melodies and technical chops, it's not uncommon to hear audiences shouting along to horn melodies in 5/4, and see crowd members groove along to weird beat divisions in 15/8.
"This is gonna be very sweaty."
Singer Genevieve Artadi wasn't wrong when she said that before Knower began their set Tuesday night at the Horseshoe Tavern, as part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.
There was friendly chatter floating through the air at the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar as the soundcheck began for singer/songwriter Becca Stevens. The room was packed, and with everyone in their seats, Stevens and her fellow musician, Michelle Willis, took the stage. Stevens and Willis had a comfortable and chatty rapport, and they started the night by sneaking a bowl of fries onto the stage. Stevens jokingly announced this was their dinner, after a long day of travelling all the way from Vancouver.
Now officially underway, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival has taken over downtown Toronto in various venues across the city. With the opening weekend behind us, here are some highlights:
Avery Raquel is a young artist, still in high school, and yet already building a name for herself as a soul/RnB singer. She has released three solo albums, Life Lessons, Without a Little Rain, and most recently, My Heart Away. Her newest album is all originals, and it showcases her budding skills as not only a singer with a strong, clear voice, but also as a songwriter. She incorporates modern elements into a classic genre, and draws inspiration from jazz greats, but also more contemporary music.
Due to the sheer number of performances at the Toronto Jazz Festival this year, it can seem daunting to know where to start. While there are many performances to choose from, and it really is impossible to go wrong with this year’s line-up, these are a few standout names to keep an eye out for.