By Michael Falk (photo by Darren Bastecky)
The 2015 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival is ready to explode. Music fans of all stripes take over the Exchange District, turning it into The Jazz District from June 11 to 21.
This year’s festival is headlined by soul icon Mavis Staples, life-redemption-story Charles Bradley, Grammy-winning Esperanza Spalding and the legendary Dave Holland, Miles Davis’ bassist. It also features Otis Brown III, sure to become a crowd favourite, and piano legends Fred Hersch and Kenny Baron.
While those artists may grab the headlines, it’s Winnipeg’s local artists that are the foundation of the festival. There are over 50 artists from right here at home performing on stages from Old Market Square’s big opening weekend bash to clubs large and small. And it’s not just jazz: indie rock, soul, blues, hip hop and jazz artists all find a home at the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.
Free opening weekend
The always-popular opening weekend features local acts over all four nights, including headliners The Lytics, Moses Mayes and Papa Mambo. They’re joined by up-and-comers Joanna Majoko, French Press and The Mariachi Ghost. CBC host, Ismaila Alfa, rolls out his awesome live-band hip hop project Alfa. The Dirty Catfish Brass Band bring the party from the streets to the stage, and Edmonton’s The Wet Secrets infuse a horn-drenched bop into Saturday night’s party.
“Winnipeg has a really vibrant music scene,” says executive producer of the festival, Paul Nolin. “I regard the festival as an opportunity to celebrate it and, hopefully, heighten awareness of it locally, nationally and internationally.”
Winnipeg expat JAN has made records with members of Sonic Youth and John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead). They’re opening up for Deerhoof at Union Sound Hall on Wednesday, June 17.
Atlaas, DJ Hunnicutt and Hana Lulu are other revered locals featured at Union Sound Hall.
Curtis Nowosad has been a mainstay on the Winnipeg jazz scene, recently released his second album, and is now studying in New York. He’s coming home for a show at Maw’s Beer Hall on Friday, June 19, and local legend Ron Paley brings his band to Maw’s on Monday, June 16.
Cinematheque, The Cube Lounge and Winnipeg Free Press Cafe feature shows predominantly from local artists such as Grace Hrabi, Amber Epp, The Keith Price Trio, and Sunny Roseland.
Beyond the festival itself, Jazz Winnipeg produces the NuSounds series. NuSounds features local artists doing one-of-a-kind collaborative concerts at The Park Theatre. This season’s shows including a live remix concert by Keith Price, a composition workshop showcase by Jocelyn Gould, and Flock Of Bards – a unique, jazzy marriage of poetry and music from Winnipeg writer Charlene Diehl and jazz scene catalyst Steve Kirby.
Jazz Winnipeg and Steve Kirby also run Jazz On Wheels, a mobile concert featuring high-level musicians who bring jazz into neighborhoods that aren’t likely to have access to live music.
The full schedule for the 2015 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival can be found at http://www.jazzwinnipeg.com.