These are the top 15 FREE shows at the Toronto Jazz Festival this year

Jun 21 2019, 10:34 pm

Starting June 21, the 33rd TD Toronto Jazz Festival is going to bring non-stop rhythm and endless energy to venues around downtown for 10 days of the very best of jazz from Toronto and around the world.

The festival is running from June 21 to June 30, and is kicking off strong with a FREE block party in Yorkville this weekend that’ll see the Blues Brothers’ Dan Aykroyd making an appearance.

With over 175 free shows to check out, we don’t want you getting overwhelmed with decisions, so we’ve compiled the 15 FREE must-sees for this year’s festival to make it easier on you.

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Larnell Lewis

Lewis is a Toronto-native and is one of Canada’s top up-and-coming drummers. He has toured with three-time Grammy Award-winning band Snarky Puppy and plays with some of the biggest names in jazz, pop, gospel and more. Lewis’ latest project, In The Moment, explores his deep connection to jazz, fusion, and his Afro-Caribbean roots.

When/Where: Sunday, June 30, 8:15 pm, at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.


This Scarborough-native brings a range of musical genres to her music, from soul to R&B to jazz. Since her first EP in 2016, she’s quickly solidifying her place in the local and international R&B scene.

When/Where: Thursday, June 27, 5:30 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Hobby Horse

This progressive/experimental/crossover jazz trio based in Italy brings with it an energetically unpredictable mix of styles, from slam poetry, to techno, prog rock, and even chamber music. The trio is part of the festival’s Spotlight on Italy series, which you can find info on here.

When/Where: Tuesday, June 25, 6:45 pm at the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue

Nubya Garcia

London-based saxophonist and composer is quickly earning international acclaim for her playing and writing. Back in the UK, she leads the diverse south London jazz scene, and here in Toronto, she’s making a debut that’s sure to impress.

When/Where: Thursday, June 27, 8:15 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street

Melissa Aldana

Hailing from Chile and based in New York, this saxophonist and composer is making her Toronto debut at this year’s festival. Internationally acclaimed, she’ll be performing music from her recently released album, inspired by Frida Kahlo, and you can catch a few of her shows at the festival.

When/Where: Tuesday, June 25, 8:15 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street. You can also see her Tuesday at 10:30 am, at the Victoria College Chapel, and she’ll be featured with the Berklee Quartet on Tuesday at 2 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland.

Cécile Doo-Kingué

Cécile Doo-Kingué / TD Toronto Jazz Festival

This powerhouse Montreal-based guitarist and singer-songwriter has an exceptional stage presence and blends afro-roots, blues and soul for a unique blues-based sound.

When/Where: Monday, June 24, 2:45 pm, at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Shuffle Demons

Known for their hit song “Spadina Bus,” Shuffle Demons are celebrating their 35th year of international touring with a home-town show.

When/Where: Saturday, June 29, 8:15 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Laila Biali

Laila Biali / Rockie Nolan / TD Toronto Jazz Festival

Biali is a singer, pianist, composer, and radio host, not to mention a 2019 Juno Award winner. Her trio will feature special guest trumpeter and Harry Connick Jr. Big Band alumnus, William Sperandei.

When/Where: Friday, June 28, 8:15 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Sydanie and Kelson Fredricks with the Dirty B-Sides

Catch the next generation of Toronto hip-hop musicians before they make it to OVO. Sydanie has already caught the major attention in the media, and the Dirty B-Sides are the go-to backing track for local and visiting hip-hop and R&B artists.

When/Where: Sunday, June 30, 5:30 pm, at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.


Channelling electronic music, opera, jazz and even punk, make sure to expect the unexpected for this Detroit-based quartet that brings with it a sonic mix of genres.

When/Where: Friday, June 28, 5:30 pm at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Kris Davis

You’ll be able to catch this Canadian pianist in a very special solo piano performance in a beautiful church acoustic. Get ready for an adventurous musical journey.

When/Where: Wednesday, June 26, 7 pm, at the Church of the Redeemer at 162 Bloor Street West.

Payadora Tango Ensemble

This outstanding Toronto quartet performs their own arrangements of traditional and contemporary tango music. They were a hit at last year’s festival, so this year the festival has them back on a bigger stage celebrating dance music from Argentina.

When/Where: Saturday, June 29, 1:15 pm, at the OLG Stage on Hazelton Avenue.

Moneka Arabic Jazz 

Moneka Arabic Jazz / Carlos M. Gürate / TD Toronto Jazz Festival

Rooted in jazz and blues, Moneka Arabic Jazz draws from bandleader Ahmed Moneka’s Afro-Arabic heritage and influences along with Toronto’s multicultural mix. Moneka Arabic Jazz is truly world music, combining the jazz tradition with Arabic maqam and African grooves, and exemplifying the diversity of Toronto.

When/Where: Wednesday, June 26, 8:15 pm, at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Dominique Fils-Aimé

This singer-songwriter from Montreal draws inspiration from soul icons of the 40s and 60s, like Billie Holiday and Etta James. Her most recent album, Nameless, is a bold call for revolution with a fury of red-hot jazz.

When/Where: Saturday, June 29, 5:30 pm, at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

Joseph of Mercury

Joseph of Mercury is a sonic time machine, powered by the sincerity and emotion of a truly classic and undeniable vice.

When/Where: Monday, June 24, 5:30 pm, at the TD Mainstage on Cumberland Street.

TD Toronto Jazz Fest

Where: Bloor-Yorkville
When: June 21 to 30, 2019
Tickets: Available online

Daily Hive Toronto is a proud community sponsor of TD Toronto Jazz Fest

Ben BarakBen Barak

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