Downtown Jazz has programmed ten days of phenomenal jazz at Nathan Phillips Square, most of it for free. From June 24 to July 3, Nathan Phillips Square, in the heart of Toronto, will be the hub of the 19th annual Festival.
Mainstage (ticketed) shows will feature Matt Dusk and Jacksoul (sold out already) on June 24.
The evening concert on June 25 features singer Keren Ann followed by trumpet virtuoso, the great Arturo Sandoval.
Dave Young's Mingus Quintet kicks off the evening concert on June 26, followed by the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band, directed by Slide Hampton. This one is a must-see with such great players as James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Paquito D'Rivera, Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi and Randy Brecker - and that's only a few of the greats who make up this truly all-star group which has received rave reviews at concerts in the States.
June 27 sees the first of two nights at The Hummingbird with Canada's jazz superstar, Diana Krall, while on the 27th over at the marquee mainstage Kevin Breit's Folk Alarm Trio and Medeski, Martin and Wood will raise the canvas roof by several inches. MMW usually means SRO, so get tickets early.
On the 28th, we present the truly talented singer, Roberta Gambarini followed by Toronto favourite Roy Hargrove's RH Factor.
Headlining the evening concert on Wednesday, June 29 is Trio! - Stanley Clarke, Bela Fleck and Jean-Luc Ponty - three superstars on the same stage and Toronto's Robi Botos Trio will open the evening.
June 30 provides a double bill to die for Kenny Garrett Quartet, followed by Joshua Redman's Elastic Band.
Friday, July 1, is Canada Diva Day with 15 fabulous singers to include the high-power delivery of Liberty Silver, the delicate nuance of Emilie-Claire Barlow, the bluesy sounds of Bonnie Brett, Dione Taylor, Suzie Vinnick, the latin groove of Eliana Cuevas, the "down home" approach of Lori Cullen and Heather Bambrick. This mega-concert will also feature Toronto favourites Melissa Stylianou, June Garber, Maureen Kennedy, Andrea Menard, and some new faces like Samina, Angela Scappatura and the 11-year old jazz prodigy Stephanie Bowskill.
Next day, July 2, more celebration of the vocal art with the double bill of Madeleine Peyroux and Lhasa de Sela.
July 3rd, on closing day, in a reversal of the usual Downtown Jazz tradition of starting the festival with a blues show, this year will close out the festival with a performance by the legendary Dr. John with local harp-hero Carlos Del Junco opening.
In addition to the marquee mainstage shows on the Toronto Star Stage, two of the biggest stars in jazz will be appearing: Diana Krall at the Humingbird Centre on June 27 and 28 and Sonny Rollins on Opening Night, June 24, at historic Massey Hall.
Free Daytime Concerts
On opening day Samba Squad and NOJO will kick off the festivities in the marquee at Nathan Phillips Square.
On day two, the spotlight is back at NPS with daytime concerts by the Franco-American quartet Moutin Reunion on The Toronto Star Stage and Rick Lazar and the Montuno Police in the 98.1 CHFI After Work Series on the BenQ World Stage.
On June 26, it is something of a homecoming when Ed Thigpen, admired by musicians and critics alike as one of the finest performers in jazz, plays at the free lunchtime concert, while later that same day on the BenQ World Stage Kiran Ahluwalia will perform vocal music from the Indian subcontinent.
June 27 daytime specials include the Peter Appleyard Big Band Tribute to Lionel Hampton at noon and Jane Bunnett's Descarga Cubana at 4:00pm on the BenQ World Stage.
Daytime excitement on the 28th is provided at lunchtime by Octurn, an 8 piece Brussels-based collective with a mixture of contemporary music, big band swing, boptunes and jazz-rock fusion and Kyoshi Nagata, one of the few groups in North America who play on a full set of authentic taiko Japanese drums.
Kollage, the exciting hard bop Toronto Sextet is first out of the gate at noon on the 29th. On the BenQ World Stage at 4:00pm, Caribbean jazz rules when the Everyting Irie Jazz Ensemble, led by Michael Smasher Cadogan takes the stage generating a tropical energy that will transform the Nathan Phillips Square into a party scene.
More great action on Thursday 30th when Howard Johnson is the special guest of The Tim Posgate Horn Band on the Cool TV Lunchtime Jazz Series, then Gangbe Brass Band brings the sounds of Africa to the BenQ World Stage.
Canada Day will celebrate the talents of some of the country's own home-grown favourites starting with The Rob McConnell Tentet at 1pm, Jason Wilson and Tabarruk on the BenQ World Stage.
Saturday July 2nd, an all-star swing session on mainstage at 1:00pm, Autorickshaw on the BenQ World Stage.
Closing day, but the beat certainly goes on starting with the Italian Instabile Orchestra, some of Italy's finest and most unconventional musicians on mainstage at 1:00pm, Swamperella on the BenQ World Stage at 4:00pm.
As well, there are daily workshops, supported by The Ken Page Memorial Trust, at 2:30pm (3:00pm on weekends) in the Workshop Lounge on Nathan Phillips Square and a Talkback Series hosted by JAZZ.FM91 at 6:00pm, all featuring leading jazz musicians and personalities.
And to top it all off there is lots of action in the many clubs taking part again this year. For a full list of shows go to www.torontojazz.com