Rosemary Akpan's blog

Favourite songs from Cécile McLorin Salvant’s show

On Thursday evening, the Grammy-award winning jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and pianist Sullivan Fortner performed together at Koerner Hall. The two presented original pieces and covers of songs from artists like Hoagy Carmichael, Bessie Smith, Stevie Wonder and more. Salvant made it easy for the audience to connect with her through her spunky delivery and relatable song choices. In each song you heard emotion, range and attention to the tiniest of vocal details. Although it’s unjust to choose favourites, here are my top three songs performed that night.

Omara Portuondo gives Toronto their last kiss

As apart of her “One Last Kiss” tour, Cuban Omara Portuondo stopped in Toronto to give a riveting farewell performance at Koerner Hall as part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. The house was packed with faithful fans anticipating Portuondo’s arrival. After a quick performance by her band Portuondo made her way into the hall. Dressed in a salmon coloured gown, the 88-year-old singer was escorted onto the stage where she sat comfortably near her pianist and sang for nearly 90-minutes.

OKAN: the heart and soul of jazz music

Earlier this week, the JUNO and Grammy nominated women-led duo OKAN performed at the TD main stage on Cumberland Street. The area was packed with tons of people who were thrilled to see the Cuban natives Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne perform their world jazz fusion melodies. And on the morning of their performance, I got the chance to have a conversation with Elizabeth on their Afro-Cuban roots and their passion for jazz.

Toronto gets down Mardi Gras style

On Friday evening, the Royal Ontario Museum transformed their space into a New Orleans style party - a fitting kick-off for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, now in its 33rd year.

Packed with visitors from all around the city, the night kicked off with DJ L’Oqenz centered in Currelly Gallery.

As guests were greeted with colourful beads, L’Oqenz set the mood by playing the classic Mardi Gras anthem "Do Whatcha Wanna" by Rebirth Brass Band—this is the same song singer Beyoncé Knowles-Carter walked out to at her historic 2018 Coachella set.

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