2017 marks the first year that I have been ‘really’ involved with the booking of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and it's been fantastic to be a part of the team.
Ken Pickering, Rainbow Robert, Cole Schmidt and I each bring different skills to the table, and we work together in a way that quite frankly I didn’t predict. The overall result of our collaboration has created what I believe is one of the best line-ups that the Festival has seen in years...
From my vantage point, I see first-hand what it takes to book a festival. Throughout the past few months, this process has been fascinating for me to experience. There are so many determining factors that go into musical programming: who gets booked, who doesn't. What matters at the end of the day is that the programming department invites the best possible artists to perform for the Festival. I can confidently say that we have pulled together a great line up of music for this year's Festival!
Throughout this year's Festival booking process, I was able to leverage relationships that I have built over the years. As many of you are aware, in 2014 I closed my jazz club "Cory Weeds Cellar Jazz." I am proud to say that despite the club's closure, relationships that I built with many outstanding Vancouver jazz supporters and musicians are still going strong.
One of the most influential contributors to this year's Festival is The Italian Cultural Centre, an organization that has been a continual supporter of jazz in Vancouver throughout my career. The ICC's Cultural Director Giulio Recchioni in particular is a huge friend of the Festival, and I am proud to announce that Il Centro will be sponsoring the Pyatt Hall Series at this year's Festival. I could not be happier!
As the musical curator for the Cellar Jazz, and now for Frankie's Jazz Club, my tastes in music have been well documented. A continual mission throughout my career is to program more straight-ahead stuff here in Vancouver and to present it in a sublime environment that both the musicians and the listeners appreciate. The return of Jazz at Pyatt Hall to the Festival is something that I’m really thrilled about as we have some incredible stuff booked there.
Overall, I’m really excited about how things have come together for this year's Festival, and friends, I can't wait for you to experience it so soon. Here is a preview of what you can expect to see:
Sunday, June 25: KANDACE SPRINGS
Pianist/vocalist KANDACE SPRINGS is a captivating new artist who we’re very excited to present. Just listen to her sing “Soul Eyes.” Absolutely wonderful.
Wednesday, June 27: CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO
My original plan for the Pyatt Hall series was to make it a piano trio series. That concept, while a good one, presented some challenges as we moved along so we expanded the scope. But when the idea was still in its infancy, my first thought was pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Here is a concert with the trio at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in 2015. Cyrus brings so much his music but its the joy that gets to me every time! This is a must-see show.
Thursday, June 29: EMMET COHEN TRIO with RON CARTER
It’s hard to pick a favourite this year but if I had to, this one would be it. Pianist Emmet Cohen and I have become good friends over the past 16 months. My label Cellar Live recorded Volume 1 of what will hopefully be many of Emmet’s ‘Masters Legacy Series’ recordings. These recordings aim to put Emmet with the masters of this genre. The first one recorded in March, 2016 featured drum legend Jimmy Cobb, and following that release, Emmet suggested Ron Carter for the second one. I loved the idea but said it was never going to happen. I had forgotten what a charming individual Emmet was, and that, combined with some serious thought behind a proposal, got us a YES from Mr. Carter! I am thrilled to announce that this will be recorded for commercial release! I'm so excited to have Mr. Carter come to Vancouver. Check out this great mini-documentary about the making of his first record:
Here is Emmet and his trio at Frankie’s last February. People are STILL talking about that weekend. It was phenomenal.
June 27: BUSTER WILLIAMS QUARTET “Something More”
If one legendary bassist wasn’t enough, we welcome another: Buster Williams and his incredible band! I'm particularly excited about reed-man Steve Wilson’s appearance, as well as that of legendary drummer Lenny White. This is someone who I always wanted to present at The Cellar but his schedule would never allow. Here is a great clip from Dizzy’s again.
Sunday, July 2: Scott Hamilton Trio feat. Rossano Sportiello and J.J. Shakur
The Pyatt Hall series closes out with one of my favourite saxophonists of all time, Scott Hamilton. This show will have him in a drummer-less trio format featuring two of Scott’s frequent collaborators, Rossano Sportiello and bassist J.J. Shakur. I have presented Scott many times here in Vancouver and it’s always a huge highlight of my year. This one is extra special because we’ll be recording it for Cellar Live as well! Listen to his buttery tone on a great ballad called Skylark:
Away from Pyatt Hall, there are two shows that I’m really excited about:
Sunday, June 25: KENNY BARRON (A NIGHT OF SOLO PIANO)
One or my all time favourites, pianist Kenny Barron comes Kay Meek for a night of solo piano. This little video says it all:
Tuesday, June 27: TIERNEY SUTTON BAND: THE STING VARIATIONS
I have a reputation of not liking singers which is simply not true! At the Jazz Festivals Canada meetings in November I was handed a CD by Tierney Sutton. I had heard her before but what made me listen to the CD was the fact that it was all Sting tunes. I LOVE Sting and some of the songs on this record are my favourites. I listened to this CD and was completely blown away. The CD is absolutely incredible. What they have done with Sting’s music is wonderful.
So much great music over a 10 days period and I haven’t even talked about the wonderful music that will happen at Frankie's during the festival.... more soon!