The TDJ News Corps

The annual TDJ News Corps is an initiative geared towards post-secondary students who are interested in writing about jazz. Successful applicants to the TDJ News Corps program are given full media accreditation for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, granting them unprecedented access to the festival – attending and reviewing concerts for free, interviewing artists and experiencing the festival from behind the scenes. In addition, TDJ News Corps members are assigned a mentor – an experienced music journalist. This year’s mentors are Deirdre Kelly, staff writer at The Globe and Mail and critic at CriticsAtLarge; and Mark Wigmore, Senior Arts Editor at JAZZ.FM91.

Check this page throughout the festival for TDJ News Corps articles – concert reviews, artist interviews and other editorial content.

The 2015 TDJ News Corps is:

Gary Clark, Jr.: A Modern Day Guitar Hero

When you think of music’s greatest guitarists, there are a few names that tend to come up: Jimi Hendrix. Stevie Ray Vaughn. B.B. King. But who are the axe-bearers of today’s generation that can shred a dirty solo or strum out a riff that simply sparkles? Gary Clark, Jr. just may be the answer.

Snarky Kids We've Come to Love

They’re the not altogether cool kids from high school band that you can’t help but love. They call themselves Snarky, as if to stick it to the jocks and valley girls who misjudged them in the hallways and gymnasiums of yesteryear. But last night, Snarky Puppy had the last laugh as the collective of jazz-fusion superstars buzzed with cool thanks to a monstrous sound that sent a capacity Nathan Phillips audience into a raging frenzy. It was a powerhouse performance from a group of multi-instrumentalist musicians on one of the first hot Toronto summer nights of 2015.

Whooping it Up with Snarky Puppy

A funk-rock party had the crowds dancing and screaming for more at Nathan Philips Square on Friday night, day nine of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Fusion jazz outfit Snarky Puppy stirred up what Miles Davis might have called a real “Bitches Brew” under the Toronto Star tent with their unique mix of synth-centric riffs, atmospheric reverb and punching horn lines.

Kurt Elling Soothes Aching Hearts

The heartbreakingly brilliant Kurt Elling dazzled spectators at Koerner Hall on Tuesday June 23. His deep, comforting tone soothed weakened, love-struck souls. With every song and story of lost love and romantic turmoil, Elling’s music embraced listeners with the notion that the pains of heartache never truly fade.

The Chicago native felt right at home in our windy city on Tuesday as his passionate vocals echoed across Koerner Hall's beautiful stage.

Reviving the Rhythm & Blues with Shakura S’Aida and Booker T. Jones

Back when I played in my high school’s jazz band, “Green Onions” was a critical part of our repertoire. Between the clean, syncopated guitar strum, the driving bass groove and the classic organ tone, the song initiated many a jam session with its legendary riff. So when I heard that Booker T. Jones would be performing at this year’s Toronto Jazz Festival, I knew that catching his performance was a must.

Capturing the Experience of the Robert Glasper Trio


It’s the first thing Robert Glasper said before his performance last night after the crowd applauded his entrance, but it’s more than just a word. It’s the syrupy, sly tone he says it in that gets underneath the audience’s skin. It becomes a whispering echo among the crowd: cool. A pure expression that goes beyond the boundaries of that simple, monosyllabic word. In the same breath he makes a joke about the pronunciation of "poutine;" this word is followed by an eruption of laughter. That’s really what it comes down to with any Robert Glasper performance: it’s an unpredictable experience that can’t quite be captured outside of its own moment, but manages to resonate beyond the barriers of space and time.

Al Jarreau Takes the Stage

Al Jarreau is undoubtedly one of the most innovative jazz vocalists in the world with nearly 50 years of experience under his belt. And it was his funky fresh style that had the crowd bopping and boogieing at Nathan Phillips Square on Monday evening.

The crowd chattered anxiously waiting to hear one of most uniquely recognizable voices in jazz and R&B. When the seven-time Grammy winner approached the glowing purple backlit stage looking stylish in a crisp white blazer and flat cap, the audience teemed with excitement.

Musicians of Toronto: John David Williams of The Boxcar Boys

The Boxcar Boys. John David Williams,
third from left.

In the age of technology and all things digital, where does a classically trained clarinet player find his place in the music scene? By bringing the past into the present, of course. John David Williams, bandleader of the six-piece old-time ensemble The Boxcar Boys, harnesses the vitality of New Orleans, Dixieland, klezmer and bluegrass to bring the roots of jazz to the streets of Toronto. As Williams proclaims, “in a time where it’s difficult to part yourself from a computer screen or cell phone, there’s something grounding about playing acoustic music of this style.” However, his musical influences extend much farther back than the early 20th century.

Review: Brian Katz & James Brown

On Friday June 19th at Baka Gallery Café, the dynamic Brian Katz and James Brown duo performed together for the first time in nearly twenty years. The quaint, dimly lit gallery showcased their incredibly synchronous sound for an intimate room of avid listeners. The crowd swayed and grooved with the rise and fall of the tempo, snapping along to their soulful melodies. The duo’s true passion for music was exemplified by the phenomenal speed and precision of their playing, and a harmonious display for fans.

The Musical Journey of Patricia Cano

The smooth, powerful and sweet vocal stylings of Patricia Cano will energize audiences Tuesday for the Lunchtime Series hosted at Nathan Phillips Square.

Born in Sudbury, from a young age Cano performed in community musical theatre productions. Her love for dance and performing eventually inspired her to study theatre at the University of Toronto. Cano says she had a phenomenal time there and developed exceptional experience meeting with theatre practitioners from across the world.


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