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With only one more sleep until the 2012 TD Toronto Jazz Festival gets underway, I'm finding my energy split in two ways: on one hand, I'm really excited about the next ten days. I'm looking forward to hearing great music, meeting interesting people on and off the stage, and experiencing the magic that is the festival. On the other hand, I'm enjoying being in the moment, and once again feeling grateful for what I get to do year-round. Let me explain.
Last night The Rex Hotel hosted their annual player's party - it's their way of thanking Toronto jazz musicians for their contributions to the scene, and for the outstanding music they make every day of the year on The Rex Hotel stage. Food and beverage were provided by The Rex, music was provided by an all-night jam session (hosted in fine fashion by Terra Hazelton and her crew), and the relaxed vibe was provided by all in attendance.
At a certain point last night, I looked around me and saw every type of jazz musician represented: seasoned veterans, recent graduates, and everyone in between; the top pros, emerging artists and more occasional players; traditional players, bebop players, and contemporary jazz players. The talent in the room was impressive; someone joked that there couldn't possibly be any jazz gigs happening last night - all the musicians were at The Rex.
But last night it wasn't about who was a pro and who was just starting out - there was no ego - it was just about a great hang. As I watched the various interactions - young musicians chatting with older musicians, long-time friends sharing inside jokes or new musical collaborators chatting excitedly about their next projects - I was reminded how awesome a jazz community we have in Toronto. Through my work with Toronto Downtown Jazz I've certainly gotten to know a lot of the musicians I saw last night; but there were also lots of musicians at last night's party I've been lucky enough to study with, play with, conduct, or seek out as mentors. I left shortly after midnight - which usually is before the true shenanigans begin - feeling inspired. A hearty thanks to Bob, Tom, Avi and everyone at The Rex for hosting us last night, and for their support of jazz throughout the year.
A few hours before the player's party, I looked at my watch, noticed it was shortly after 4 pm and said to myself, "Huh - the tent starts going up right about now!" And that's when I really started getting excited. Then I started putting together my schedule for the ten days of the festival and got even more excited - there's some pretty great music happening around the city between now and July 1. In some ways, last night's player's party was an excellent way to get into a groove in advance of the festival.
So - I hope to see you at Nathan Phillips Square or elsewhere throughout the festival. I'll be blogging each day with a summary of the previous day's activity (posts will, depending on how much sleep I've had, range from complete sentences to the written equivalent of barely audible grunts); for a guide to getting the most out of your festival experience I invite you to check out last week's blog post.
Here we go...this is gonna be fun...