Four weeks to go!

In just four short weeks the 24th edition of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival - and my first as Artistic Director - kicks off with Maceo Parker's mainstage performance. Where has the time gone?!

I'm frequently asked about which shows I'm looking forward to most...and it's nearly impossible to choose! I'll be getting out to as many shows as I can over the ten days, but here are some that have me particularly excited (in no particular order):

The Roots, Mainstage, June 29. A great opportunity to see hip-hop legends in action!

Angelique Kidjo, Mainstage, July 1. This is going to be a great night of African influenced music. You'll be greeted by the a capella group Soul Influence; Ottawa's Souljazz Orchestra will do a set; and Angelique - a powerhouse singer - will finish the night performing music from her most recent album, Oyo.

Miguel Zenon Quartet/Hilario Duran Big Band, Enwave Theatre, June 26. Peurto Rico born Miguel Zenon is an alto sax force to be reckoned with. Plus, he's a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow. Paired with Hilario Duran's big band, this will be an incredible night of Afro-Cuban jazz.

Dave Douglas & Keystone, Enwave Theatre, June 29. Dave Douglas is one of the most creative trumpeters on the international jazz scene. This performance is his second collaboration will acclaimed contemporary filmmaker Bill Morrison and will feature the ensemble playing live to a screening of Spark of Being, Bill Morrison's take on the Frankenstein story.

James Farm, Enwave Theatre, June 30. Joshua Redman has been one of the most exciting saxophonists in jazz for over ten years. This performance sees him teaming up with heavyweights Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Ari Hoenig.

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra featuring Ingrid Jensen, Lunchtime Concert, June 28. I was blown away when I heard Christine's recently-released big band album Treelines - the writing is beautiful, and the band sounds fantastic. Oh yeah - and Ingrid Jensen in one of my absolute favourite trumpet players...

Jaffa Road, Afterwork Concert, June 27. Jaffa Road was nominated for a JUNO Award and once you hear their fantastic blend of jazz and middle eastern sounds you'll know why...the band features some of the outstanding musicians we have in this city!

The Next Wave Series, hosted this year by The Music Gallery, is back after a long hiatus and I'm excited about all of the shows. The series presents the more avant-garde side of jazz, and features outstanding international, national and local musicians in a variety of formats. You'll definitely want to stop by to try out something new! Our thanks to AimToronto for providing outstanding local opening bands. Here's the Next Wave schedule:

June 27: Eric Boeren Quartet, with the Kyle Brenders Quartet opening - great contemporary Dutch jazz
June 28: Random Access Unplugged with rEDwIREaRCHaNGEL opening - two top-notch local groups
June 29: Element Choir with the Swyves opening - Christine Duncan leads this outstanding improvised choir
July 2: Fred Frith with Octopus opening - internationally acclaimed guitarist performs a solo set
July 3: Doran-Stucky-Studer & Tacuma Play Music of Jimi Hendrix with NKLS Quartet opening - from Switzerland, a contemporary take on the music of Jimi Hendrix

And, of course, this is just a taste of what's happening during the festival!! Check out our calendar for a complete overview (including the 28 clubs with jazz during the festival)...and look out soon for announcements about late-night jams and the Artistic Director's Guide to the Festival.

Finally, there's been a lot of reporting about security during the G20 summit, which takes place June 25 to 27. The summit has certainly added an "extra element" to this year's festival, but we're open for business as usual. All of our venues fall outside of the main security zone and so you'll be able to access them without any extra hassle...just remember to take transit!

So now you've heard what's got me excited...which shows are you looking forward to?


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