– Story by John Atkinson
The 39th edition of the TD Victoria International JazzFest is set to be bigger and better than ever as it showcases local, national and multiple GRAMMY-winning artists—and welcomes Bullen Park, Esquimalt into its funky mix as a new outdoor venue.
Notable debutantes in the Marquee Series this year are three-time Grammy-winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, as well as two Grammy-winning acts in a joint performance, Ranky Tanky with Lisa Fischer, and vocalist Samara Joy, who was named #1 New Artist by DownBeat Magazine and who will be performing as a part of a twin-bill performance with the world-renowned Brubeck Brothers Quartet.
Returning artists in the Marquee Series are eight-time Grammy-winning blues legend Buddy Guy, two-time Grammy-winning vocalist Gregory Porter, and GoGo Penguin, a British jazz trio that blends electronica, trip-hop, rock and classical.
“As always, we want people to come out, be exposed to the ‘sounds of surprise,’ and have a great and fun musical experience,” said JazzFest’s executive and artistic director, Darryl Mar. “Whether immersing yourself in a headliner Marquee Series performance at the Royal Theatre or McPherson Playhouse, enjoying an evening of food, drink, and live jazz at one of the club or restaurant venues, or getting your funk on outdoors at Bullen Park, this festival has something for everyone.”
Bullen Park will join Beacon Hill Park’s Cameron Bandshell in hosting free-to-attend performances by local and Canadian artists.
“By expanding into Esquimalt, we hope to appeal to more, larger crowds while maintaining our current devoted audience,” enthused Mar.
Mar said the10-day event, from Friday June 24 to Sunday July 3, remains the highlight of the summer for the many volunteers, audience members, artists and production teams who all contribute to creating the best annual live music experience on Vancouver Island.
The new “Funk & Soul in the Township Series” at Bullen Park will feature three nights of twin-bill performances on the outdoor stage: Ghost-Note & Louis Cole Big Band (Sunday, June 26), Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio & Cha Wa (Saturday, July 2) and Ludic & The Suffers (Saturday, July 3).
“Our main goal for this year is to build upon the township series at Bullen Park in Esquimalt so that it becomes an integral, memorable part of the festival in years to come.
“We are beyond excited to share this new project with the Victoria and Esquimalt communities, and hope to see audiences of all ages attend these funk-centric, danceable concerts on the grassy field at the TD Main Stage in Bullen Park,” Mar said.
This year’s festival has also attracted some of the internationally-acclaimed rising stars of jazz, including Immanuel Wilkins, Joel Ross, Dan Wilson, Giveton Gelin, Maya Rae and Ludic—and is buoyed to be able to introduce such talent to Victoria audiences.
The Victoria Jazz Society was founded in 1981 and reincorporated in 1987. The society produces two major multi-day summer festivals, TD Victoria International JazzFest and the Harbour Blues ‘n Roots Festival (29th edition, formerly known as Vancouver Island Blues Bash).
“We’re dedicated to presenting world-class internationally touring artists from around the globe to perform to Greater Victoria audiences and beyond in both ticketed and free-to-the-public performances, as well as educational free-to-attend workshops, to further add to the vibrance of Greater Victoria’s music and arts scene,” said Mar.
When it comes to the type of experience Mar and the TD JazzFest team are trying to create for Victoria’s people, Mar said, showcasing local and national artists, along with the global stars and providing outreach programs to go with the educational workshops is key.
“TD JazzFest always strives to present the best possible programming of music in live performances from local, national, and international artists. We pride ourselves in producing outreach programs and educational workshops to provide opportunities for local artists as well as the community to access live jazz and its associated genres.
“We also want to support musicians with the highest available production values and guaranteed performance fees, and present artists that are culturally and musically diverse for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.”
Mar is the founder of JazzFest International in Victoria and says he’s been privileged to present thousands of musicians/artists that otherwise may never have been able to perform and present their craft to Greater Victoria audiences and beyond—including Vancouver Island-born icon Diana Krall.
“The Victoria Jazz Society, under my artistic directorship, has been able to present many artists in the early stages of their career, such as Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spalding, Trombone Shorty, Joshua Redman, Jacob Collier, and more. All of these artists have now become iconic names in the music world.”
For more information and to buy tickets to this year’s festival, visit jazzvictoria.ca.