Each year the TD Toronto Jazz Festival presents an incredible diversity of music on stage – jazz and jazz-related sounds which incorporate musical and cultural traditions from around the world. Thanks in part to a generous grant from the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now program, we captured seven distinctly unique performances at the 2022 Festival, showcasing Toronto’s incredible multiculturalism. 
From the sounds of Brazil, Madagascar, Cuba and Eastern Europe to R&B and Blues – these seven concerts, exclusively featuring Greater Toronto Area musicians, sound like Toronto … and sound like jazz.

Watch the concerts below, and hear directly from the bandleaders about what makes their performance distinctly Torontonian.

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OKAN

Taking their name from the word for heart or soul in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, Juno-Award winning OKAN fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, courage and love. They have worked with Bomba Estereo, Lido Pimienta, Dayme Arocena and Telmary Diaz, among others, and their latest release "Espiral" has earned international acclaim from the likes of OkayAfrica, NPR and Songines; it debuted at the number one position on the !Earshot International charts and was included in CBC Music's top 20 and NPR's top 10 Alt Latino's albums of the year. Co-led by Elizabeth Rodriguez, a classically trained violinist born in Havana, Cuba, who served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra; and Magdelys Savigne, hailing from Santiago de Cuba, who graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of the Arts.

Recorded June 24, 2022 on the TD Stage in Festival Village as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Please note: audio was taken directly from the sound board so may contain occasional imperfections.

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Moskitto Bar

Moskitto Bar is an only-in-Toronto blend of the music of Ukraine, the Balkans, Iraq, Algeria, Brittany, Canada and more that celebrates the coming-together of cultures, and music’s ability to unite us – and get us moving. The band is the personification, and the soundtrack brought to life, of multi-cultural Toronto; and of the magic that ensues when artists from different traditions come together in new contexts. Like their namesake bug, but nicer, they feed off of one other musically and gain inspiration through sharing. Featuring Tangi Lion (Brittany, France) on accordion and vocals, Ahmed Moneka (Iraq) on percussion and vocals, Yura Rafaliuk (Ukraine) on cimbalom and vocals, Fethi Nadjem (Algeria) on violin and vocals, Demetrios Petsalakis (Greece) on Oud, Christopher Kettlewell (Canada) on upright bass, Majd Sekkar (Syria) on clarinet and Naoki Hishinuma (Japan) on trumpet.

Recorded July 1, 2022 on the TD Stage in Festival Village as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Please note: audio was taken directly from the sound board so may contain occasional imperfections.

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Maria and the Band

Founded in 2011 through an organic collaboration between Brazilian and Canadian musicians, Maria and the Band plays forró pé de serra, a folk music from northeastern Brazil. Led by the dynamic and charming Jerusa Leão, the group has played several iconic Toronto venues from the Dakota Tavern to the Great Hall, and festivals including Lulaworld Festival and the Small World Music Festival. Incorporating rabeca (Brazilian fiddle), zabumba (two-toned drum), accordion, triangle, and a chorus of vocals, Maria and the Band plays original compositions and also interpret the greats of classical forro so beloved in Brazil.

Recorded July 1, 2022 on the TD Stage in Festival Village as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Please note: audio was taken directly from the sound board so may contain occasional imperfections.

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Shawnee Kish

Shawnee Kish discovered music as medicine at a very early age. Born dreaming about being on stage and starting her journey toward a career in music at the age of 12, music quickly became a source of self-empowerment for the Two Spirit soulful singer, allowing her to stand tall in her personal strength and power. Named the winner of CBC’s 2020 Searchlight talent competition, this fierce, powerhouse artist has been celebrated as one of North America’s Top Gender Bending Artists (MTV), named by Billboard as an Artist You Need To Know and continuously uses her music to empower. An outspoken advocate for her Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ communities, Shawnee is a proud Two Spirit Mohawk and clearly an artist with vision. She continues to tour while also working with the We Matter Campaign and Kids Help Phone in hopes of empowering youth, providing strength and hope through music.

Recorded June 26, 2022 on the TD Stage in Festival Village as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Please note: audio was taken directly from the sound board so may contain occasional imperfections.

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Melanie Durrant

Melanie Durrant is an award-winning Canadian soul-singer who embodies real artistry through her unique, edgy and soulful music style. Born and raised in Toronto, Durrant has garnered a list of music accolades - three JUNO Award nominations, a SiriusXM Indie Award nomination, and close to 4 million streams. Her album "Anticipation" landed a #1 spot on campus radio and saw a Top 20 spot on the national Earshot! chart. A multi-talented artist, Durrant was also a featured performer in the Canadian production of Rent; she has also shared the stage alongside Jay Z, 50 Cent, Jill Scott, Fantasia, Alessia Cara, Cissy Houston, Sean Paul, Common, and many other top acts. Full of melodic surprises, heavenly harmonies and bold direction, Melanie Durrant embodies the voice, attitude and sound that has helped shape Canada’s diverse soundscape.

Recorded June 25, 2022 on the TD Main Stage in The Grove as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Please note: audio was taken directly from the sound board so may contain occasional imperfections.

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Um Grande Encontro

Um Grande Encontro means The Big Meeting – and in this case reflects new and exciting musical combinations never before heard or seen in Toronto. For the first time in Canada: Brazilian Bateria with Orchestra! Special guest composer/arranger/conductor Rafael Piccolotto de Lima brought his own compositions and arrangements, in the Forró Sem Palavras style, to perform with an all star band of 13 Toronto musicians, and guest appearance by A Fantástica Bateria - Canada’s premier bateria ensemble. With Alan Hetherington, Musical Director.

Recorded June 26, 2022 on the TD Main Stage on The Block as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

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Donné Roberts

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, music producer, music mentor and guitar teacher Donné Roberts is a 2-time JUNO Award Winner and 4-time JUNO Award nominee - his most recent nomination coming in 2022 (Global Music Album of the Year) for his latest album "OYA". Born in Madagascar and living in Toronto, Roberts was a backup singer for Ace of Base and was even the first black VJ on MTV Russia. He was a member of the African Guitar Summit and a founding member of Okavango African Orchestra; he has collaborated and co-written with Canadian musicians such as the Sultans of Strings, Amanda Martinez, Julian Fauth, Taxi Chain and more. Roberts is a passionate performer - when he hits the stage with his Madagascar solid groove, infused with Afrobeat, Austronesian catchy melodies, and blues guitar riffs, he exhilarates crowds even if they haven't heard his music before. He performs mainly in his mother tongue Malagasy, but this never proves to be a barrier to the audience, providing living proof that music truly does transcend language.

Recorded June 25, 2022 on the TD Stage in Festival Village as part of the 35th annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Please note: audio was taken directly from the sound board so may contain occasional imperfections.