A dimly lit room, stiff cocktails, and a sultry female voice floating over shimmering instrumentals are what comes to mind when thinking of a classical jazz club scene.
But while jazz has continued to grow as an art form and develop past general stereotypes, so has the number of celebrated female jazz artists all over the world.
Known for showcasing an incredibly diverse lineup of artists year after year, we’ve highlighted 8 female lead acts to check out at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Roberta Flack, the organic, intimate, and deeply soulful sound of Kandace Springs is timeless and undeniable. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter/pianist makes warm and sophisticated soul, pop, and jazz with a stunning voice that pop legend Prince said “could melt snow.”
Expressing her Southern Tutchone, Japanese, Tlingit, and Scottish roots through poetic lyrics, vocalist and bassist Diyet blends folk, roots, and traditional Aboriginal music together to create something that’s all her own. Embodying the spirit of the North, her songs are tough and raw, as well as strikingly beautiful and intensely alive.
Nandi Rose Plunkett writes, records, and performs under the name Half Waif. Her deeply personal and engaging music reflects her lifelong endeavour to reconcile her diverse range influences, which include Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Celtic music, Indian bhajans, and the classical works of Messiaen and Debussy. This diversity results in a beautifully layered collage of electronic soundscapes, Celtic melodies, and 19th-century art music.
Led by Canadian jazz giants Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and effects and Christine Jensen on saxophone, Infinitude combines the innate musical talent locked within each artist with a sense of creative freedom. Few talents could reckon with the concept of boundless possibility at the centre of their music, but in a quintet setting featuring renowned guitarist Ben Monder, Fraser Hollins on bass, and Jon Wikan on drums, the Jensens find a captivating conversational rapport full of texture, daring and grace.
Greek-born singer/accordionist Magda Giannikou is a musical chameleon who breezes through everything from French-Brazilian hybrids to collaborations with the Kronos Quartet and Snarky Puppy, Greek folk tunes, and Columbian cumbia. Magda’s special performance on June 27 will include Snarky Puppy’s Michael League on bass, Keita Ogawa on percussion, and Chris McQueen on guitar.
Inspired by her father’s abstract paintings, Vancouver-based harpist/composer Elisa Thorn’s stunning Hue project creates a bold and evocative world of sound, alongside bassist James Meger and drummist Justin Devries. Informed by colour and texture, the artists work in tandem with the paintings to deliver an energetic performance anchored by Thorn’s harp.
New Zealand-based Canadian vocalist Tami Neilson is a powerhouse talent in the tradition of Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, and Amy Winehouse. Critically-acclaimed and a fan favourite, Tami’s captivating voice, soulful sass, and stunning songs will get you right in the feels. Texas swing, gospel, Motown, and country-noir cool, Neilson’s got it all!
Former Missy Elliot and Black Keys collaborator, powerhouse vocalist Nicole Wray and her band Lady blend the flair of ’60s soul with the driving beat of hip-hop, and the silky rhythms of modern R&B. Sweetness, strength, emotion—it’s all there!