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

The Holland-Potter-Loueke-Harland extravaganza


You know that feeling you get when you look at a sports team's lineup, or a movie's roster, or a sandwich's ingredients, and you think to yourself, "This is gonna be good." Well, that's the feeling I get when I think about the quartet taking the stage on June 25th at the Jane Mallet Theatre: Dave Holland on bass, Chris Potter on sax, Lionel Loueke on guitar and Eric Harland on drums.

What's so good about Branford Marsalis?

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a drummer at The Rex after a gig we had played. We were chatting about the upcoming festival, and he asked what shows I was looking forward to; he expressed his remorse at missing the concert featuring Branford Marsalis. "To me," he said, "Branford Marsalis is jazz." The more I hear about, listen to and read about Branford Marsalis, the more I agree with that statement.

What's so good about Kurt Elling?


I'm trying to remember when I first heard Kurt Elling. I'm pretty sure it was while driving, on my way to teach a trumpet lesson many years ago, on CJRT, on Ted O'Reilly's show. I think Ted played Kurt's version of "My Foolish Heart" from Live in Chicago. After singing through the melody, and after Laurence Hobgood has played a gorgeous piano solo, the band suddenly drops into a very quiet vamp as Kurt works his magic, singing original lyrics and building the tension.

What's so good about the Count Basie Orchestra?

I've mused in past Artistic Director's Guide entries on the concept of swing, and how it's difficult to explain - it's really more of a feeling. Or, in the case of the Count Basie Orchestra, it's everything that happens between the beginning and ending of every performance of every tune.

What's so hip about Tower of Power?

I joined the Tower of Power party late. I had heard about them for years, but for whatever reason hadn't checked them out. Once I did, I was hooked. Their high-energy funk, soul and R&B recordings were impossible to resist. When I finally saw them live in Detroit in 2010, I was floored - they sounded even better in person.

What's so good about Phil Dwyer?


I like to start these posts with some sort of concise statement on why the musician being profiled is so important. I was going to do that with Phil Dwyer, but Canadian jazz legend Don Thompson does it so much more eloquently than I could. He says:

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?


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...


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