Hiromi photo by Sakiko Nomura
June 24-July 3
Various venues,Vancouver, BC
In its 31 years of production, British Columbia’s biggest and most acclaimed music festival has learned a thing or two about how to amass and educate Northwest music listeners. Running this summer from June 24 through July 3, Coastal Jazz and TD Music’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival will cover a wonderful range of artists, from the mainstream to the avant-garde up-and-coming.
All-star groups Joe Lovano Quartet and Oliver Jones Trio make up some of the festival’s biggest jazz names, while kicking off the festival is the explosive pianist/composer Hiromi, herself worth the trip across the border. The Japanese phenomenon brings with her an exceptional pairing of electric bass master Anthony Jackson (Chick Corea, Steely Dan) and hard-hitting percussionist Simon Phillips (Al DiMeola, David Gilmour). This progressive jazz-fusion threesome has been called “one of the most exciting groups working in any genre today” (DownBeat) and continues to mesmerize audiences with fierce precision and energetic interplay.
A handful of world-renowned vocalists headline at this summer’s heterogeneous festival, including neo-soul icon and five-time Grammy winner Lauryn Hill, Britain’s five-time Grammy Award nominee Joe Jackson, multi-platinum singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and American jazz vocalist and Grammy winner Gregory Porter. A collaboration of singer-songwriters Case/ Lang/ Veirs – with avant-rock icon Neko Case and music legend k.d. lang – is also on the bill, as is 12-piece blues-rock, tour-de-force Tedeschi Trucks Band driven by powerhouse R&B vocals and master guitarist Derek Trucks (The Allman Brothers Band).
“We are very much an international festival. We are looking at artists and bands performing in other countries… [and] putting musicians from different cultures together on stage,” says the festival’s Media Director/Co-Founder John Orysik. “Collaborations have always been at the heart of what we do.”
The festival will host a series to spotlight French jazz, while another focus is put on prominent figures from the UK jazz scene, including free-improvising saxophonist Evan Parker and favored British pianist Alexander Hawkins. A trio to watch for is the masterfully hypnotic Mammal Hands, UK’s baseless trio reimagining their influences of Pharoah Sanders and traditional North Indian and African music with heady melodies and cyclical minimalism.
A new innovation series hosts intercontinental collaborations, and initiates jetsetters like Polish rising stars trumpeter/composer Piotr Damasiewicz and lyrical keys master Marcin Wasilewski. Opening the innovation series are some of Scandinavian music’s most commanding figures as The Thing, a sonic force of Sweden’s Mats Gustafsson (sax, live electronics) and Norway’s Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). Norway’s Mats Eilertsen Trio will also grace the 10-day lineup with contemporary European jazz. A cast of Vancouver artists and improvisers are brought together to debut “Echo Painting,” new compositions by Vancouver jazz legend Peggy Lee. Another three of Vancouver’s most creative voices pioneer in parallel to New York’s guitar titan Mary Halvorson on the final festival day.
Noteworthy fusion instrumental bands are set to take over a cozy black box stage tucked off in a hip corner of the city (Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright Street). Among the groups are Seattle’s Polyrhythmics, New York’s Moon Hooch, and Japan’s risk-taking ensemble Soil & Pimp “Sessions.” This series concludes with JUNO Award-nominated drummer Dan Brubeck and his Vancouver-based group.
Priding itself on its inclusivity and accessibility, the Vancouver Jazz Festival has something for everyone regardless of age. Of a nearly 400 total performances, approximately 150 concerts will be of no cost to the public. This includes a student performance in the park, following a nine-day residency of free student workshops led by Chicago-based experimental jazz cellist, composer, and educator Tomeka Reid. Additionally, late night jam sessions will tail scheduled performances at Frankie’s Jazz Club in the heart of Vancouver.
– Halynn Blanchard
For a full schedule of events, tickets, and more info, visit coastaljazz.ca. Discounts are available for attendees under the age of 30 and for series packages.