The Toronto Jazz Festival launch at Metro Square featuring a free show with Aretha Franklin went off as I expected. The festival opened noon time Friday June 24th as people lined up as early as 10AM to get their wrist bands that would guarantee them free entry to the big tent, housing the main stage performance area where Ms. Franklin the Queen of Soul would hold court later that evening.
The opening act, Toronto musician Jordan John and The Blues Angels rocked the audience for around an hour from show time, 8:30 PM and set up a street party atmosphere that would welcome in the iconic soul singer.
In eager, near electric anticipation the audience cheered wildly as Aretha and the band made their appearance. The Queen looked good in a shiny evening gown and sounded better than ever. A tremendous back up band, 14 touring musicians and the 10-piece Toronto Jazz Festival Orchestra along with a few strong back up singers, allowed soul, jazz and pop to blend with audio delight as the massive crowd inside the tent and those who flowed out onto King Street danced and swayed to the music.
Everyone had a chance to view the concert from the big screen monitors that were located in strategic spots. The crowd dug in for an hour and a half of Aretha Franklins' jazz. Jazz standards like "Cherokee", "Moody's Mood For Love", and Franklin standards that included "Think", "Natural Women", "You Send Me" and "Say A Little Prayer" were among some of the tunes that the powerhouse soul singer belted out with an obvious display of love for what she does and continues to do with immense spirit, grace and style.