July 2, 2014
by: Ken Pickering - Artistic Director / Co-Founder
photography: Chris Cameron unless otherwise noted.
Soulful Dawn Pemberton way back there on the Ron Basford Stage on Canada Day
There we have it - the 29th edition of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival - successfully wrapped and in the books. By all accounts this year's 12 day run struck a chord - many folks gave us similar feedback, that this year's fest was one for the ages. Personally I remember quite a few doozies - but this one felt really damn good. I hope we didn't plateau one year early - next year's the 30th! There was a definite lightness and buoyancy in the air that was palpable - I could certainly feel it and many musicians and fans mentioned that feeling to me. So there was joy in this year's varied program - we showcased some of the most beautiful jazz and its relatives available in today's music world and my sense is that we got the balance just about spot on. We were also very happy to be included on the list of the world's 10 best jazz festivals (CBC) - in some great company. It was also great to see a few of the old friendly faces again - folks that we go way back with, that we don't see often enough - on that tip astute critics Mark Miller and Bill Shoemaker made welcome mostly off duty appearances this year. The festival was also an auspicious debut for our new executive director, Mike Forrester who could be seen running from venue to venue. Welcome Mike!
Certainly it was awesome to see so many musicians turning out to listen to each others bands, make new connections and feel the vibe. It was also awesome to host two amazing musicians - pianist Lisa Ullén and trombonist Mats Åleklint - in Vancouver residency for the entire month of June thanks to the support of the Swedish Arts Grant Committee. They had numerous sessions with Vancouver musicians, recorded here and there and ultimately made a lot of new friends in this town - expanding the connectivity between Vancouver and Sweden in an organic and hopefully lasting way.
Lisa Ullén and Torsten Müller at the house gig at Lisa Cay Miller's place (photo kp)
The 11th day of the festival was the quiet one - Monday, June 20th - with one gig at Performance Works in the afternoon - an excellent Montreal based piano trio led by Jérôme Beaulieu played to a responsive a full house. I find it amazing how the age old piano trio format seems to reinvent itself with so many young musicians working in this format. In the past couple of years we've showcased quite a few of them. We can add Beaulieu to that list .
Trio Jérôme Beaulieu at Performance Works (photo kp)
Later in the afternoon I attended a house concert - with freely improvised music by the legendary UK vocalist Phil Minton and Vancouver bassist Torsten Müller. I couldn't have had a better seat (right beside the musicians in a very comfortable chair) - the music was perfectly nuanced - the audience compromised mostly of musicians from near and far. It was the perfect low key and relaxed late afternoon 5pm gig with cheese, beer and wine and good company - then off to a quiet night at home - finally.
Phil Minton and Torsten Müller at the house gig
Festive vibe at Granville Island (Photo kp)
Cat Toren, Tommy Babin, Dan Gaucher with a full house at Performance Works (photo kp)
Funky Kristin Fung at the Railspur Stage - she sang in the recent performance of Anthony Braxton's opera - Trillium J (photo kp)
Michel Edelin had the right rhythm section for his trio (following Cat) with local stalwart Clyde Reed - bass and VIP drummer Dylan van der Schyff. Edelin is an incredible flutist with a great tone and feel - and the trio's free bop strolled and swung through a set of music that held the audience rapt. With one rehearsal they sounded like a band ... shared history?
Dylan van der Schyff, Michel Edelin and Clyde Reed (photo kp)
The Westerlies (a brass quartet of Seattle lads) now based in NYC laid out a set of music unlike anything we've ever presented at the festival. We booked them on the strength of their Songlines debut of Wayne Horvitz compositions - plus the fact that both Tony Reif and Wayne called us personally to make sure that they were on our radar. Top echelon chamber music that ranged from Horvitz to Charles Ives. Perfect.
Backstage with the Westerlies - Media Director John Orysik (photo kp)
My previous post had some of the rundown on how the Alexander Hawkins, Harris Eisenstadt and Francois Houle Trio came together. So I'll just put up the photos and say that their second performance - to a full house at Performance Works - was if possible even more burning that the Ironworks gig. A really fantastic new band. I hope.
Your's truly introducing Alex, Harris and Francois (photo: John Orysik)
Alex, Francois and Harris
Their set list with originals and Steve Lacy tunes.
After a long Canada Day there was nothing left in the tank, out of gas so we had to head home Christine, myself and our little whippet (jazz dog) Booker. Sadly I didn't get to hear André Lachance or Mike Allen. Both great Vancouver bands that I'm sure turned in excellent sets. I sure dug André's set at Pat's Pub a couple of months back and Mike at the last night of Cory Weed's Jazz Cellar. Here's a couple of Chris Cameron photos from those final shows.
That was it - time to head home and savour the feeling of an amazing 12 day festival. Next up, the volunteer party!
Thanks to everyone on staff - (especially jazz warriors Rainbow and John) - the board and my fellow directors, our great logistics / transpo / hopsitality / volunteer team, operations, production, box office, marketing, social media team, bean counters, interns, volunteers and fans - its all about the music and the musicians. You know who you are! That's why we're here - to support the vision - JAZZ!
Your's truly, Booker Little the jazz dog and Christine (photo: John Orysik)