LSM Newswire

Friday, June 24, 2011

The award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival celebrates its 18th annual festival with an exciting colloquium and ambitious music lineup!

GUELPH – This year’s Guelph Jazz Festival promises to be as exciting as the remarkably adventurous, groundbreaking and award-winning festival that preceded it. Last year the festival won the prestigious Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and this year the Guelph Jazz Festival will remind you why we are so deserved of on-going recognition though high-level arts awards, national and international critical acclaim, and sincere grass-roots community

The Guelph Jazz Festival has come a long way since its humble beginning in 1994 by a small group of friends who shared a love of jazz and a commitment to the community of Guelph. Their ardor for the music and love for the community has allowed the Guelph Jazz Festival to progress into one of the premier avant-garde music festivals in all of North America. A three-time recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for the Arts (2001, 2000 & 1997) and the winner of the 2010 Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts, this year’s Festival showcases innovative accomplishments in jazz and creative improvised music from around the world.

The complete schedule encompasses a variety of events, including a soon-to-be critically acclaimed concert series, a free all-day-all-night open-air tent, and the wildly popular dusk-‘til-dawn Nuit Blanche, featuring unique performances and multi-media presentations taking place in seemingly accidental places in the streets and parks of the city.

Here are some of the highlights of the upcoming 18th annual Guelph Jazz Festival:

**Five days of world-class music featuring artists from Europe, Australia, the US and Canada with dozens and dozens of jazz-tinged musical and multi-media events
**Nuit Blanche: Guelph offers its second annual all-night musical festivity
**The Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) Project highlights their first Improviser-in-Residence, Jane Bunnett, in a performance with KidsAbility at the Guelph Jazz Festival on September 10th.

Here’s a day-by-day look at what the festival has to offer this year. Full biographies for all the artists, plus photos, cam be found on the Festival’s website:

Wednesday Sept. 7th
The Festival’s Colloquium opens at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre. This is a three-day offering of workshops, lectures and concerts, all of it free, and all of it at the Art Centre. This year the music program commences here as well with The Rent: The Music of Steve Lacy (Quebec / Ontario). The Rent is a Toronto-based repertory band dedicated to the music of American composer and saxophonist, Steve Lacy. Starting in the late 1950s, Lacy used his intensive research into the then-neglected compositional œuvre of Thelonious Monk as a foundation on which to base a lifetime of thoroughly original music-making.

Thursday Sept. 8th
The colloquium continues, followed by an evening consisting of an exciting double-bill at The River Run Centre’s Cooperators Hall: Nicolas Caloia Quartet (Quebec) and a special performance from Paul Plimley, William Parker, Gerry Hemingway (BC/USA/Switzerland). Montréal bassist Nicolas Caloia—an artist whose music is full of compelling interlocking rhythms with the juxtaposition of structure and open improvisations—is best known for leading his rambunctious thirty-piece Ratchet Orchestra, whose performances at the Guelph and Victoriaville Festivals have affirmed Caloia's bona fides as one of Canada’s truly original bandleaders and composers. The trio, consisting of Paul Plimley (Vancouver pianist), William Parker (American free jazz double bassist, poet and composer), and Gerry Hemingway (Swiss-based American drummer), is a meeting of three key ambassadors in the global scene of improvised music, and their collaboration promises both considerable subtlety and wild abandon. Both Hemingway and Parker have provided exciting past performances in Guelph in the past— this is one performance you surely do not want to miss!

Friday Sept. 9th
The final day of the colloquium - remember it’s free and open to the public! At 5pm in the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Montréal pianist and composer, Marianne Trudel and her Septet (Quebec) are a beautiful balance of forces to behold: with the sonorous trio of trumpet, French horn, and trombone complementing Anne Schaefer's fine singing voice.
Last year, the Guelph Jazz Festival programming made a special tribute to the celebrated German label, ECM. The tribute continues at 8pm in the Sanctuary of St. George's Anglican Church with the exceptional Norwegian duet, Trygve Siem and Andreas Utnem (Norway). Having worked together for a decade and a half beforehand, saxophonist Trygve Seim and pianist Andreas Utnem released the hauntingly beautiful Purcor: Songs for Saxophone and Piano (ECM) in 2010, a lyrical set of folk songs, church music, and improvisation. Included in this bill, Christine Duncan and the Element Choir with William Parker (Ontario / USA) will showcase Duncan's creativity and inclusive spirit with an improvised choir of musicians and singers. The Guelph incarnation of the Element Choir will be augmented by Guelph vocalists who have workshopped with Duncan in order to learn her inspiring conducting system for improvising singers.

Saturday Sept. 10th
Saturday is the most ambitious day of the festival, with numerous acts appearing in outdoor and indoor venues throughout the city. Things kick off on Saturday morning at 10:30 AM, at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, with a performance from Trevor Watts and Veryan Weston (UK). Though saxophonist Trevor Watts is one of the founding fathers of British free improvisation, for decades he has focused primarily on his own provocative hybrid of jazz, popular music, and African traditional music, Moiré Music, among other composition-based projects. Watts has a knack for imbuing abstract improvisation with a tough lyricism that is aptly complemented by Weston's classically inspired, clean lines and rhythmic rigour. Simply put, these two are utterly world-class improvising musicians.

At the Upper Wyndham Street Jazz Tent (in front of the old post office), running from 11:30 am until 12 midnight is the following lineup, all free: Jane Bunnett and KidsAbility Youth Ensemble; Jayme Stone (USA / ON); Opposite of Everything (ON); Rebel Rhythm with Jane Bunnett (ON); Minotaurs (ON); Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (USA); who will be performing a full concert later that evening), and others to be announced.

Back to the River Run Centre on the Main Stage for the 8pm not-to-be-missed double-bill of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (USA) and Henry Threadgill's Zooid (USA). The remarkable Hypnotic Brass Ensemble consists of eight brothers, all playing brass instruments. Their father, Chicago trumpeter Phil Cohran, played in the Sun Ra Arkestra and was instrumental in the founding of the AACM – two institutions that have long been celebrated by the Guelph Jazz Festival. These brilliant young musicians were also absorbing the gamut of popular music on their own, especially hip-hop, funk, and R&B, influences that the group’s music regularly reflects. Their lively performance will be followed by one of the great bands of today's creative music: Henry Threadgill’s Zooid. To listen to Henry Threadgill is to encounter a radical imagination that, with both the force and the subtlety of its utterance, proposes new ways of listening. The harmonies and rhythms swirl, diverge, and coalesce in ways that are mysterious, and yet are just right. The improvisations are fierce and poignant, yet underline that this is a composer's music foremost.

Later that evening, as the sun descends, lovers of creative music are encouraged to head over to Mitchell Hall in St. George's Anglican Church for a performance by Esmerine (Quebec), who plays, as they call it, “modern chamber music.” This group was formed a decade ago by cellist Rebecca Foon and percussionist Bruce Cawdron, two members of the scene associated with Constellation Records (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, etc.). In memory and wake of the extraordinary singer-songwriter, Lhasa de Sela, the revamped Esmerine has crafted a musical eulogy for and celebration of her life, La Lechuza (Constellation), a delicate and compassionate tribute to one of the treasures of Canadian music.

Nuit Blanche 2011 and the Five Fabulous Festivals: the Festival is well known across Canada and internationally for its innovative programming, drawing more than half of its audience from outside of Guelph. Locally, Guelph is celebrated as a city of vibrant culture, home to five cutting-edge arts festivals. United in our commitment to creative exploration and our desire to share the treasures we find across Canada and the world, the Guelph Jazz Festival has recently partnered with the Contemporary Dance Festival, Hillside Festival, Festival of Moving Media and Eden Mills Writers' Festival. Spanning four seasons, the Guelph Fab 5 is collectively marketing its exciting offerings in an effort to attract new audiences in a campaign funded by Canadian Heritage, Guelph Tourism and The Downtown Guelph Business Association. Each festival will be presenting a unique event during the Guelph Jazz Festival's Nuit Blanche, to extend Nuit Blanche's offerings and to draw attention to each festival's respective art-form, all in the spirit of jazz and improvisation. Stay Tuned! Nuit Blanche programming will be announced in July.

Sunday Sept. 11th
To accommodate those who stayed up later than usual the night before, or who are still up, the Guelph Jazz Festival concludes at 10:30pm in the Cooperators Hall, River Run Centre with the Kidd Jordan Quartet: Kidd Jordan, Joel Futterman, William Parker and Alvin Fielder. Regulars to festival know that this slot promises one of the most memorable events of the week. This is a quartet of torch-bearers for the great tradition of American free jazz. New Orleans tenor saxophonist, Kidd Jordan, until only recently one of jazz's truly unsung heroes, combines a brawny tone and a constant stream of musical ideas. Pianist Joel Futterman's playing is incendiary; he darts all over the keyboard with rhythmic drive that is virtually unmatched. Jordan and Futterman are beautifully complemented by the propulsive Chicago drummer Alvin Fielder, and by bassist William Parker, who is known and loved by Guelph jazz fans and music aficionados the world over. The Kidd Jordan Quartet is a totally enveloping, energetic experience, and one of the benchmark groups in free jazz today.

"An enduring gem on Canada's cultural landscape" - James Hale, Downbeat Magazine, 2010

Further information about ticketing, regular updates, news, as well as July 21 unveiling of the Nuit Blanche webpage can be found at

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