The 32nd annual TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival is set to take over our city later this month, featuring performances by more than 1,800 artists spread across 35 venues.
The event is the largest music and arts festival in all of British Columbia and lures thousands of jazz lovers to the downtown core each summer.
From an esteemed eight time Grammy Award winner to a 22-year-old British phenomenon, there’s a little something for everyone at this year’s edition. Here’s a look at the artists headlining the 2017 musical celebration.
Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge is set to kick off the TD International Jazz Festival with a samba-tinged tribute to the late David Bowie. Jorge’s 2015 album Musicas para Churrasco, Vol. 2 was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award, and film buffs will remember the singer from his appearance in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic where he covered Bowie’s songs between the film’s narrative sequences.
Fans of Afrobeat are not going to want to miss a performance by Antibalas on June 23. The collective has worked with everyone from Angelique Kidjo to Public Enemy and their live shows are the stuff of legend. Antibalas, which features senior Kung Fu master Amayo on lead vocals, promises a night of dynamic instrumentals and eruptive solos.
Like fellow headliner Seu Jorge, saxophonist Donny McCaslin has a personal connection with David Bowie: his band collaborated on Bowie’s final album, the breathtaking Blackstar. The group, featuring Nate Wood on bass and Jason Lindner on keys, are expected to play original tunes and covers of songs by the Chainsmokers and deadmau5.
American Jazz Hall of Famer Kenny Barron has been delighting audiences for decades. The pianist got his break performing with Dizzy Gillespie and eventually collaborated with jazz greats Stan Getz and Charlie Haden. Barron is a master when playing material by Monk and Parker and his show at the Kay Meek Centre will feature original compositions as well.
Australian guitar player Tommy Emmanuel is set to perform at the Vogue Theatre on Sunday, June 25. Emmanuel was awarded a rare “Certified Guitar Player” title from his idol Chet Atkins for his fearless fingerpicking style and was also nominated for two Grammys. His latest CD Just Passing Through is an instrumental collaboration with Ian Cooper and Ian Date.
He may be the son of reggae icon Bob Marley, but Ziggy has had an astonishing career in his own right. Between his solo efforts and recordings with his band the Melody Makers, Marley has sold millions of albums worldwide and has won eight Grammys, the most recent of which was for 2016’s Ziggy Marley. Vancouver’s own Buckman Coe will perform opening duties that night.
At just 22 years old, UK phenom Jacob Collier has already been dubbed “jazz’s new prodigy” in his home country. The guitar playing virtuoso combines elements of jazz, funk, and gospel music in his shows and even blends live loops (think of him as a one-man band). Collier won 2 Grammys in February and later performed live with Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams at Coachella.
Snarky Puppy founder Michael League has put together an ensemble of eight musicians from four continents and the result is a sound that’s rich in groove, melody, and soul. Bokante features vocalist Malika Tirolien and percussionist Jamey Haddad, who previously worked with Paul Simon and Sting. Strange Circles, Bokante’s first album, is a fine mix of West African music and Zeppelin-esque blues.
Branford Marsalis’ three-decade-long career is as prolific as it is eclectic: he’s written songs for the Broadway stage, owns a hugely successful jazz imprint, and was even an honorary member of the Grateful Dead. His June 28 show is one for the record books—it’s the Festival’s first-ever collaboration with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The VSO will appear onstage for the first half of Marsalis’ performance, while the second half will feature accompaniment by pianist Joey Calderazzo.
They aren’t exactly jazz per se, but DJ collective Thievery Corporation are sure to be one of Jazz Fest’s most popular draws. Even without the support of a major record label, Eric Hilton and Rob Garza have managed to sell millions of records and have amassed an incredibly loyal fanbase. Celebrating the release of this year’s The Temple of I & I, the D.C. duo will perform tracks new and old while accompanied by a massive live band.
Group founder Scott Bradlee describes Postmodern Jukebox as “pop music in a time machine”, and a single listen to the group’s The Essentials album will explain why. Their repertoire includes covers of hits by Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, but reinvented as doo-wop ditties or ragtime jams. The clip for the band’s take on Radiohead’s “Creep” has been seen on YouTube more than 33 million times.