Festival Season Continues...

With only a few weeks left in August (no matter how I look at the calendar, I can't seem to change this!), it feels as though summer is starting to wind down. Meanwhile, things are slowly starting to ramp up here - the chatter among Artistic Directors is picking up, submissions are starting to come in, and agencies are sending out their rosters - but we're still another ten months away from our 25th festival. However, there are still lots of festivals on the go and coming soon...in the spirit of ensuring you hear about as much jazz as possible, here are some of the festivals you should try to catch:

Markham Jazz Festival
August 20-22
Hey - that's this weekend! And, let's get the bias out of the way right away: I was the Artistic Director for this festival for four years and think it's great. The festival committee is an excellent group of people and I always had a blast - and learned a lot during my tenure. New AD Michael Occhipinti has put together an outstanding lineup, and it all gets underway tomorrow night with their gala. www.markhamjazzfestival.com

Prince Edward County Jazz Festival
August 13-22
Catch the last few days of this great festival directed by Canadian jazz veteran Brian Barlow. They've got an excellent mix of artists from the PEC area and from further afield, and feature some of the top jazz talent in the country in an interesting mix of venues. www.pecjazz.org

Guelph Jazz Festival
September 8-12
The Guelph Jazz Festival has established a well-earned reputation for presenting some of today's most interesting and innovative jazz performers. You're guaranteed to have your mind expanded at this festival, and you're likely to see something new. A combination of free and ticketed shows and well worth the trip - it's on my list of things to do! www.guelphjazzfestival.com

All-Canadian Jazz Festival
September 24-26
True to their name, the All-Canadian Jazz Festival each year presents a great sampling of Canada's outstanding jazz talent. Set in Port Hope in Memorial Park, concerts are ticketed but the day pass is very affordable - here again it's worth the drive! www.allcanadianjazz.ca

Ashkenaz Festival
August 31 to September 6
Okay, so, strictly speaking this is not a jazz festival, but with a name like Grossman, how could I not list it? Besides, if you know klezmer music, you know that it involves just as much improvisation as the best jazz. The Ashkenaz Festival - which happens only every other year - features a great mix of music, film, theatre, dance, literature, craft, and visual arts inspired by Yiddish and Jewish culture. Most of the events are down at Harbourfront, and it's bound to be a party. www.ashkenazfestival.com

Detroit Jazz Festival
September 3-6
The Detroit Jazz Festival is recognized as the largest free jazz festival in North America and it deserves acclaim not only for being free, but for featuring the top musicians on the international jazz scene. This is just one of many festivals happening south of the border...but I'm listing this one because I'll be there, checking out the action. A free festival is a model we'd love to get achieve here in Toronto, so I'm interested to see how it all works in Detroit. www.detroitjazzfest.com

So - that's a sampling of some of the great music you can find throughout (and just outside) the province over the next six weeks. I've undoubtedly missed a few so be sure to do your own research, but these festivals are a great place to start.

And, as Larry Green says every day on Jazz.FM91, get out and support live jazz. Here in Toronto (and in all of the communities listed above), great jazz musicians play year-round - not just during the festival - so support your local jazz scene today!

What have I missed? What festivals will you be attending over the next several weeks? Let me know by leaving a comment...


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