This week I was asked by the Toronto Star's Ashante Infantry to recommend my favourite pick for the festival mainstage shows.
I was torn between two lovers - The Roots and Bettye LaVette. They both are performing on June 29th. In the end I bought tickets for Ms. LaVette. Not only to check out her legendary styles but my good friend Ben Riley is opening the show with his band Planet Earth. Will I see you there?
Here's the article that appeared in yesterday's paper:
Who better than musicians to rate the hottest acts at the 24th edition of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival? We asked 10 local artists — all of them participating in the festival — which one headliner would they buy tickets for.
Good thing this young bassist’s opening act slot for Herbie Hancock guarantees her a spot at the famed pianist’s Saturday show at Nathan Phillips Square. “Herbie has always paid homage to the tradition of jazz while capturing the attention of the younger audience and incorporating new sounds of today’s music. He has had an impact on my musical journey since I was a little girl.”
Bassist Young would most like to see The Harry Connick Jr. Orchestra at the Canon Theatre Sunday. “I like his energy and presentation of a song. He comes across as more genuine than a lot of singers these days. Maybe his acting ability helps in delivering the song. And he is one of the few guys who keeps a larger group working.” Young’s quartet opens for Stanley Clarke at NPS June 28.
Drummer Clarke will be performing in Saskatchewan and unable to checkout The Roots at NPS Tuesday, including Questlove, his “latest favorite drummer. All the players in that band, as evidenced nightly on Jimmy Fallon’s show, are excellent, dedicated players who are growing and stretching their own boundaries. . . While they are not stone-cold beboppers, their music still swings ferociously and with integrity.” Clarke will be back in town to swing with his trio at Trane Studio July 2.
Singer Butcher has bought tickets for Bettye LaVette’s Phoenix show Tuesday. “Her voice is outstanding, but I’m really drawn to her ability to truly ‘interpret’ the music. I find listening to her sing the music of Elton John, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, etc. (on newly released Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook), I understand their lyrics as I never have before. She’s able to light up every word with honest emotion and raw power.” Butcher turns in a free 12:30 p.m. quartet show at the Shops at Don Mills on June 30.
He’s got a 16-month-old at home and his own gig helming Random Access Unplugged at the Music Gallery on Monday, but drummer Romberg hopes to squeeze in trumpeter Dave Douglas & Keystone at Enwave Theatre June 29. “Douglas is one of the great composers in modern jazz. His quintet with the Rhodes and his Keystone band, which is a bit more funky, fuse the elements of great writing with great improvisation . . . and there’s always a real group dynamic. He’s my inspiration for my own spearheading of different projects.”
The saxist/vocalist is miffed to be out of town when Keith Jarrett’s piano trio plays the Four Seasons Centre next Wednesday. “He has the ability to draw the listener into his experience. Also, this is one of the longest-working trios in jazz; imagine the level of creative communication possible when you’ve been playing together with the same guys for almost 30 years.” Viswanathan performs a free 5 p.m. show with Jaffa Road this Sunday at NPS.
You’d think this flautist would be jockeying to hear some of the horn greats playing the fest, but he’s also keen on Jarrett. “Any concert by Keith Jarrett is guaranteed to be a source of genuine beauty and real inspiration, to any listener, whether a musician or not!” said McBirnie, who will miss the show, which coincides with one of his eight jazz fest gigs — this one at Hot House Café with Brenda Carol & ClaireVoyance.
The vocalist’s pick is singer Mavis Staples’ NPS show June 30. “She is the most soulful, most spiritual of my personal favorite artists,” said Richardson, who performs with the Russ Little Quintet at Old Mill Inn on Monday. “Nobody can hum and moan like Mavis Staples. She is the real deal.”
The saxman and former TDJ artistic director, who performs a free noon show at NPS this Sunday, plans to catch trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s big band at Koerner Hall July 1. “He’s truly a jazz player — fiery and full of musical surprises. And he has tremendous knowledge of the roots of the music: he’s as contemporary as can be, but can pick an obscure ballad and knock you out with it. He’s also a great singer.”
“I don’t know enough about her music, but when I listen to Angelique Kidjo I hear strength and passion; I’d like to hear more,” said vocalist Cuevas, who heads to the Montreal Jazz Festival after her Lula Lounge septet show this Sunday and hopes to be back in town for Kidjo’s July 1 NPS concert.
The TD Toronto Jazz Festival runs June 25-July 4. Visit www.torontojazz.com for tickets and information.