Multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier returns to the TD Victoria International JazzFest, taking to the Royal Theatre stage June 28 with a full band. Photo contributed

2019 TD Victoria International JazzFest: Young blood invigorates festival

Joey Alexander and Jacob Collier part of a stellar field of performers for 10-day festival

There are some great shows in store during the 2019 TD Victoria International JazzFest.

Fans of African folk roots and soulful jazz will be dazzled by guitarists Lionel Loueke and Raul Midón, respectively, in the June 21 opening performance at the McPherson Playhouse. They’ll play separately then team up to blend their genres, before giving way to pianist/vocalist Laila Biali, Canada’s answer to Alicia Keys.

But as festival director Daryl Mar says, some of the biggest surprises may come from some of the youngest performers.

Grammy-nominated piano wunderkind Joey Alexander celebrates his 16th birthday June 25, when he’ll perform with his trio at the Royal Theatre.

“He’s been identified as a child prodigy of jazz for the last four years, and we were finally able to land him,” Mar says.

Originally from Indonesia but a U.S. resident the past six years, Alexander began playing jazz on the piano when he was just six – he would listen regularly to his dad’s jazz records. He was ultimately discovered by Wynton Marsalis, who invited him to play at age 11 on stage at the Lincoln Centre in New York, and later collaborated with musical greats Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock.

“A lot of people now are being discovered because of their exposure on YouTube and Spotify,” Mar noted, especially younger performers.

British multi-instrumentalist, singer and multimedia expert Jacob Collier, 24, who performed solo at the 2017 JazzFest – the same year he won two Grammys for arrangements of songs – remains a YouTube hit for his early material. He returns to JazzFest with a full band for a June 28 show at the Royal and promises an unforgettable, if unpredictable musical experience.

There’s other fresh highlights in this year’s festival, including a performance by The Suffers, a Houston, Texas group led by “relentlessly soulful” vocalist Kam Franklin. Characterized by Mar as “one of the best neo-soul, R&B bands on the planet,” they make their JazzFest debut with a June 23 show at the McPherson Playhouse.

RELATED STORY: Full lineup in place for 2019 JazzFest; ticket sales launch Friday

Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter (June 27, Royal), guitarist extraordinaire Jesse Cook (June 26, Royal) and the Patricia Barber Trio round out the festival’s ticketed Marquee Series.

Mar is also excited about the return of Hermann’s Jazz Club as a venue this year, with shows happening every night downstairs, and four more presented at the club’s 260-seat Upstairs space on View Street, all as part of the ticketed Presentation Series.

The downstairs club will also host four gig and open jam sessions on Fridays and Saturdays during the festival starting at 10:30 p.m., after ticketed shows end. As well, four free workshop/clinics with festival performers will happen there June 24, 25, 27 and 29 between 4 and 5 p.m. (registration is required, call 250-388-4423)

Free concerts happen through the days June 22 to 29 in Centennial Square, with an extended dance on tap for June 22 with funk, jazz and electronic band Astrocolor starting at 7 p.m.

For full schedule and ticket information, visit the TD Victoria International JazzFest online, pick up a JazzFest booklet around town or drop by their office at 977 Alston St. in Victoria West.

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Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter is back for a June 27 JazzFest show at the Royal.

Pianist/vocalist Laila Baili is a part of the opening night gala performance June 21 at the McPherson Playhouse for the TD Victoria International JazzFest. Photo by Edith Maybin

Lionel Loueke, part of the headlining performance for the gala opener June 21 at the McPherson Playhouse at the TD Victoria International JazzFest. Photo by Matthieu Bitton

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