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The Guelph Jazz Festival at 15: confident, ambitious, and very diverse

June 25, 2008: For Immediate Release

GUELPH The Guelph Jazz Festival turns 15 this year, and is announcing its most ambitious, confident and diverse year of programming yet. In the Festival’s first year, Artistic Director Ajay Heble might have considered dedicating a whole Sunday of events to New York composer and bandleader John Zorn, but that would have seemed an unlikely dream. Similarly, having acts like Tortoise (Chicago), ICP Orchestra (Netherlands), and Satoko Fujii ma-do (Japan) all appear in Guelph on the same weekend would have seemed inconceivable back then. And extending the family-friendly, free jazz tent into a late-night, Afro-Cuban jazz carnaval led by Jane Bunnett of Toronto on Guelph’s main downtown street? Impossible. Well, over the last decade and a half the Guelph Jazz Festival has made the impossible possible and all of the aforementioned artists and events, plus many more, will be playing at the 2008 edition.

Here are some of the anniversary plans in store for the Festival’s 15th birthday celebration, which runs from Wednesday, Sept. 3 to Sunday, Sept. 7:

• Three consecutive days (Friday through Sunday) of amazing music at Guelph’s largest concert hall, the Main Stage of the River Run Centre

• A specially commissioned Afro-Cuban jazz carnaval by Toronto’s queen of Latin jazz, Jane Bunnett, featuring a parade, theatre and music, with puppets created by Guelph’s Jerrard Smith and Natalie Axon

• A John Zorn mini-festival on Sunday, with concerts in the morning (an improvisation) and afternoon (a double bill of distinct compositions) by this legendary American composer and band leader

Full biographies on all the artists, plus ticket and venue information, appear on the Festival’s newly designed website, which also launches today:

Tickets go on sale next week. Here’s a day-by-day look at what the festival has to offer this year:

• Wed., Sept. 3: The Festival’s Colloquium opens at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (MSAC). This is a three-day offering of workshops, lectures and concerts, most of it free, and all of it at MSAC. Starting the ball rolling is a collaboration between DJ Spooky (turntables) and Vijay Iyer (keyboards) of New York.

• Thurs. Sept. 4: The Colloquium continues with free concerts by Matana Roberts (New York) and Rouge Ciel (Quebec) at the MSAC during the day, and an evening duo by two renowned guitarists at the River Run Centre’s Cooperators Hall: Kevin Breit (Elora) paired with René Lussier (Quebec). Ending the day is the first of two late-night concerts beginning at 11pm, at Mitchell Hall of St. George's Anglican Church: a double bill featuring John Kameel Farah (Ontario) and turntable virtuoso Kid Koala (Quebec).

• Fri. Sept. 5: The B.C. world music band SAFA gives a free daytime concert at MSAC as part of the Colloquium, followed by a late afternoon show by Joanne Hétu (Quebec) at Cooperators Hall. In the evening, the Festival begins the first of three Main Stage concerts at the River Run Centre, featuring a double-bill by Satoko Fujii ma-do (Japan) and the ICP Orchestra (Netherlands). Late night at Mitchell Hall is the popular B.C. post-rock band Fond of Tigers.

• Sat. Sept. 6: This is the banner day for the festival, with 12 acts appearing in three different venues. At the Upper Wyndham Street Jazz Tent (in front of the old post office), running from 11 am until 11 pm is the following lineup, all free:

o Matana Roberts (New York) and Rich Marsella (Ontario) with KidsAbility Youth Ensemble (Ontario)

o Burrows (Ontario)

o Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People (Ontario)

o Tallboys: Kevin Breit, Matt Brubeck and Jesse Stewart (Ontario)

o Burnt Sugar (New York)

o L’Orkestre des pas perdus (Quebec)

o Bernardo Padrón Group (Ontario)

o Jane Bunnett’s Carnavalissimo (Ontario)

On Saturday morning, at the Guelph Youth Music Centre are François Houle Aerials (B.C.), and in the afternoon, a double-bill of Sangha (B.C.) and Barry Guy/Maya Homburger/Jeff Reilly (UK, Switzerland, Nova Scotia). In the evening, Chicago's high priests of post-rock/jazz, Tortoise, will give a rare area performance on the River Run's

Main Stage.

Sun. Sept. 7: This is the John Zorn mini-festival. The New York composer and saxophonist is bringing a band of improvisers, all of whom are well known as soloists as well, including Marc Ribot on guitar, Cyro Baptista on percussion and Joey Baron on drums. They will play a freely improvised concert in small, varying combos at Cooperators Hall in the morning. Then in the afternoon, they’ll tackle two radically different Zorn compositions at the Main Stage of the River Run centre Electric Masada and The Dreamers in two halves of a double-bill concert.

Keep a watchful eye on for news and updates, because year 15 promises to be the most exciting yet for the Guelph Jazz Festival!

NOTE: Festival Artistic Director Ajay Heble, who suffered a heart attack on board a transatlantic flight one month ago, is now at home in Guelph. Thankfully, his minor heart surgery was successful and he is recovering. -30-

For more information: Derek Andrews, 519-763-4952

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
  • Press Release Date: Sept/ 3 - Sept/ 7, 2008
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