Welcome to the Artistic Director's Guide

The Artistic Director's Guide is our way of taking you "beyond the bio". Here you'll find audio and video clips, and I'll describe what I like about each artist and suggest why he or she is important to the scene. So dive in—use the menu options above to find an artist, and let's seek to answer "What's so good about...?"

Josh Grossman, Artistic Director
Toronto Downtown Jazz

What's so good about Joey DeFrancesco?

I'm trying to figure out where exactly my love of the Hammond B3 organ sound comes from...a well-played gospelly, bluesy organ has resonated somewhere deep within me.

Nels Cline and Julian Lage? Really?

Artist: 

At first blush, it may seem like an odd combination...I can assure you - they make beautiful music together.

What's so good about Hiromi?

Music is subjective, and so it should come as no surprise that for me, some artists resonate from the first note I hear, while others take a little more time to sink in. For me, Hiromi Uehara falls into the latter category.

What's so good about Roy Hargrove?

Before we begin, I must reveal my bias. I'm a trumpet player. And so any other trumpet player with outstanding sound and technique is going to rank fairly high on my list. But that's not all that's good about Roy Hargrove...

What's so good about Jon Ballantyne?

Pianist Jon Ballantyne is a bit hard to pin down - and that's a good thing. Equally comfortable playing in small groups or solo; inside the changes or far out; standards or original compositions, Jon always makes each tune, and each solo, his own. A quick look at his performance history demonstrates why he moves smoothly among styles. He's shared the stage with more straightahead players like Woody Herman, Barry Harris, Joe Henderson and Joe Lovano, and also with stalwarts of the more improvisation-based side of jazz like Dewey Redman, Dave Liebman, Kenny Wheeler and Cecil Taylor.

What's so good about Darcy James Argue?

Okay - full disclosure. I run a big band, which means I'm predisposed to liking big bands. And I've played one of Darcy's charts, which means I'm predisposed to liking his music. And I've seen the Secret Society several times, which means I'm predisposed to liking the band.

But none of that should matter because regardless of predispositions or biases, it's all fantastic stuff.

What the heck is Mehliana?

Artist: 

The short, factual answer: Mehliana is the combination of pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Mark Guiliana.

The short, opinionated answer: Mehliana is awesomesauce.

What's so good about Bobby McFerrin

I know I'm supposed to go "beyond the bio" with these posts, but here's a line from Bobby McFerrin's bio which I think captures what makes him so special as an artist: "The 10-time Grammy winner has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, goofing around barefoot in the world’s finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement."

What's so good about Lettuce?

Artist: 

When I took acting classes in high school (stay with me - I'll make it all connect), our teacher taught us that there is acting, and there is acting at something. If someone is truly acting, the audience believes the actor is actually another character. If someone is acting at something, the audience can tell that they're watching an actor onstage pretending to be someone else. Similarly, in music, there's a big difference between bands which pretend to play in a certain style and bands who know a certain style inside and out.

What's so good about Dianne Reeves?

Artist: 

With some artists, determining the focus of an AD's Guide entry is easy - one quality or focus stands out from the rest. With an artist like Dianne Reeves, though, I'm not sure where to start - I find her intriguing on so many levels: her instrument, her approach to improvisation, the way she engages with the audience…she is an excellent example of the elusive "complete package."

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