Grammy Award winning bluegrass dobro and resonator guitar player Jerry Douglas brings his band to town for the 2018 TD Victoria International Jazzfest. Photo courtesy jazzvictoria.ca

TD VICTORIA JAZZ FEST 2018: Diversity of musical styles key to festival’s success

Now in its 35th year, this summer festival staple spotlights jazz, blues, soul and more

Don’t let the name fool you.

As the lineup for this year’s 35th TD Victoria International Jazz Festival will attest, the city’s largest annual celebration of music has long since past the days of being a purely jazz event.

“I wish we weren’t stuck with the label of being just a jazz festival,” says founder and festival director Darryl Mar. “Nearly 100 per cent of the artists the first couple of years were just jazz artists, but we’ve diversified into blues, soul, world music and more. It’s basically allowed our festival to expand our audiences. If we were strictly a true mainstream jazz festival, it wouldn’t be as large.”

One of this year’s headliners, Grammy Award winner Macy Gray (June 27, Royal Theatre), is one of those unique artists who can seamlessly move between genres. Her roots are in jazz, but she has achieved success in the R&B and soul categories. Fronting her own band in this second visit to Jazzfest, she will perform various original compositions intertwined with jazz standards.

Mar is also excited about the first Jazzfest appearance of Dee Dee Bridgewater, a jazz scene veteran and Grammy and Tony Award winner who for this tour is teaming up with the Memphis Soulphony for an opening night show June 22 at the Royal.

“This is a tribute to her hometown of Memphis, it’s an R&B soul performance with a nine-member band,” he says. “For me that is definitely going to be one of the highlights of this year’s jazz festival.”

Other Victoria “coups” for 2018 include a first appearance for Alabama soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones (June 28, Royal), as well as multiple Grammy-winning bluegrass dobro and resonator guitar player Jerry Douglas (June 29, McPherson Playhouse), “one of the most in-demand session musicians in Nashville” and a regular in the Alison Krauss band.

Pure jazz players are by no means left out of the 10-day Jazzfest roster – Oak Bay High’s Dave Dunnett Theatre hosts legendary figures Ranee Lee from Montreal and alto saxophonist supreme Vincent Herring and his quartet, as well as the virtuosic Julian Lage Trio.

But the diverse nature of performers continues with the likes of England’s Go Go Penguin, a contemporary electronic act, and two dance-oriented nights in Centennial Square with Indian bhangra rock outfit Red Baraat, and Ghost Note, a spinoff band from the jam collective Snarky Puppy.

Another point Mar noted was that no less than nine bands playing ticketed performances at this year’s festival are led by female artists, the highest ever to his memory.

While the main audience market for Jazzfest continues to be South Vancouver Island – between 75 and 80 per cent, Mar says – a solid 20 per cent attend from “offshore,” which could be anywhere from the Lower Mainland to Europe.

“We get a lot of people asking us, early in the year or late in the year previous to the festival, if we have our lineup announced yet,” he says, noting that doesn’t usually happen until mid-March. “But people do look at the content of our festival so they can plan their holidays around it.”

Find a full schedule of concerts both free and ticketed at jazzvictoria.ca/jazz-fest/lineup.

editor@mondaymag.com

Just Posted

Emerging Sooke filmmaker takes spotlight with special award

Mary Galloway creates her own opportunities

Government House gala a great time to announce new Langham Court season

Production chair Alan Penty unveils 90-year-old theatre company’s plans for the coming year

Wild about nature photos: Royal B.C. Museum set to kick off annual exhibition

Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition winners, finalists’ works on display starting Friday

REVIEW: Allan Reid finds a meal fit for a king

Monday’s intrepid restaurant reviewer gets the royal treatment at the Fireside Grill

FILM FEST WRAP: Your winners, reviewer’s favourites make for differing lists

Kyle Wells takes a look back on the Victoria Film Festival’s 25th anniversary event

Seedy Saturday blossoms at Victoria Conference Centre this weekend

Speakers cover wide range of topics, including how to utilize small spaces for gardening

Port Alberni production tells real stories of casual racism

Divided We Fall coming to ADSS and the Capitol Theatre

Women dominated in Grammys nominations, but will they win?

This year’s nominees mark a departure from the 2018 Grammys

Most Read