Wait, what?!

How can it be the last official day of the 2013 TD Toronto Jazz Festival? I mean, I guess it makes sense - it's Saturday, I'm exhausted, my ears are full of great music, and Canada Day is right around the corner. But still - already? Well, here's my report on the second last day…

  • 12:30 pm - Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra on the Toronto Star Mainstage. A fun concert which spanned about 70 years (or so) of big band music. The band played some bang-on transcriptions of Duke Ellington music then a very interesting - and at times quite contemporary - arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Excellent music, and a nice reminder that jazz transcends international borders.
  • 2:00 pm - Over to The Rex for the Youth Jazz Showcase. Similar to Thursday's Big Band Slam, the Showcase is one of my favourite events each year. Yesterday's concert featured the National Youth Jazz Combo (Canada), the Christian Li Group from Berklee College in Boston, and Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14 Band from Tokyo, Japan (winners of the 2012 Sapporo Park Jazz Competition). Each group brought its own flavour of jazz to the stage, a reflection of the stage of development of the musicians involved, the jazz tradition with which they've grown up, and the teachers who have guided them. It made for an exciting, interesting afternoon, and the near-capacity crowd appreciated the efforts of all involved. Hearing young jazz musicians from three different countries was inspiring.
  • 5:00 pm - After a brief check-in at Nathan Phillips Square, where things had not exactly been going swimmingly (technical difficulties surrounding the evening show which were, ultimately, worked out), I made my way down to The Distillery. The weather had been miserable all day by this point, but the rain seemed to be letting up, so the Jorge Miguel Quartet and Drumhand pressed on with their setup. I got to hear a few tunes by Jorge - which remains one of my favourite groups since I first heard them at a street festival twelve or so years ago - and an audience even started to grow…it was as if people had been waiting all day to venture outside.
  • 7:30 pm - From the Distillery I was off to the Homesmith Bar at Old Mill Toronto to catch the Canadian Jazz Quartet with guest clarinetist Allan Vache. A swinging set of standards played for an appreciative audience, and a nice chance to hang a bit during the set break.
  • 9:45 pm - I arrived at the Mainstage to catch a contrasting set of numbers from Boz Scaggs. The first few numbers were more subdued - Boz was on acoustic guitar and kept the capacity crowd enthralled with his rich voice and powerful delivery. The next few tunes got everyone up and dancing - the tempo picked up, the guitars went from acoustic to electric, and backup singer Ms. Monet helped whip the crowd into a frenzy.
  • 10:45 pm - My final stop of the night was the Jazz Bistro to catch most of Roberta Gambarini's second set. She sounded excellent - lovely interpretations of melodies, tasty scatting - and the accompanying trio was an all-star conglomeration of Toronto musicians who played at their normal standard - in other words, world-class: Dave Restivo on piano, Neil Swainson on bass and Ethan Ardelli on drums.

For the last day of the festival, we're a bit quiet on the ticketed side of things (only 3 shows), but there's still lots to see and hear. Here's the scoop:

  • Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14 Band - 12 pm, Pure Spirits Patio in The Distillery District (free). If you didn't catch them yesterday at The Rex, be sure to see them today before they head back to Japan!
  • Aline Morales - 2 pm, Trinity Stage in The Distillery District (free)
  • Organic - 2 pm, Shops at Don Mills (free)
  • Escola de Samba - 3-6 pm, roving Nathan Phillips Square (free)
  • Mike Francis Trio - 3 pm, Pure Spirits Patio in The Distillery District (free)
  • Erin Costelo - 5 pm, Shops at Don Mills (free)
  • Jessica Stuart Few - 6 pm, Pure Spirits Patio in The Distillery District (free)
  • Selena Evangeline - 7 pm, Trinity Stage in The Distillery District (free)
  • Gord Sheard's Brazilian Jazz Experience - 7:30 pm, Old Mill Toronto
  • Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra - 8 pm, Shops at Don Mills (free)
  • Alan Jones Canadian All Star Sextet - 8 pm, Jazz Bistro
  • Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers with Edie Brickell (Slocan Ramblers open) - 8 pm, Toronto Star Mainstage

Plus a busy Saturday night in the clubs. Today's full listings are available here.

I'll likely write more extensive followup/wrap-up posts later this week or next week, so I won't take up more time today…but I will say thanks to everyone who has participated so far in this year's Festival - artists, audience, co-presenters, sponsors, and my TDJ colleagues. It's been a blast and so I say, for one last time this year:

See you on the square!

Josh

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