Insider’s Guide to the Festival

After a month of rolling announcements, all our ticketed shows for the 2018 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival are now on sale! With over 300 concerts to take in, trying to figure out what to see can feel like an insurmountable task. We’ve put together a little guide to give you the run-down on our different series and to highlight a few of the shows we’re really excited about.


The Marquee Series consists of our top line shows – the festival headliners, if you will. This year we’re thrilled to be presenting the legendary Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, 90’s R&B superstar Macy Gray, saxophone giant Kamasi Washington, and (just announced!) English EDM phenom Bonobo, performing with a full band.

If you haven’t heard of Kamasi Washington, he’s getting a lot of attention for his recent work with artists like Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, and Flying Lotus. Washington also has a history of playing with jazz greats like Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Recently, his own solo releases have garnered him much-deserved acclaim as a composer and bandleader.

The following video for “Truth” (from his latest release) is 15 minutes long, but worth every second of your time. Kamasi plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on June 24.

While most know Simon Green (Bonobo) for his solo DJ sets and recorded dance music, his live performances of late have included anywhere from six to twenty instrumentalists. He describes the sets as “through-composed” and “heavily visual”. The result is something that is not quite EDM, not quite chamber music, and totally in a world of its own.


The Vogue Series offers up a set of shows that are guaranteed to be fun, upbeat, and eclectic. The Vogue Theatre, which is one of Vancouver’s historic and iconic downtown venues, will even have a dancefloor setup for several of the shows, so don’t forget your dancing shoes! Featuring unlikely soul heroes St. Paul and the Broken Bones, indie icons Dirty Projectors, Latin all-stars Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and dobro/lap steel legend Jerry Douglas.


If you’re looking to spend a delightful evening on Granville Island and hear the best of what modern jazz has to offer, look no further than the shows at Performance Works. This year’s series includes Julian Lage, GoGo Penguin, Mary Margaret O’Hara & Peggy Lee, and Jerry Granelli with Robben Ford, among others.

When Julian performed here in February the show was sold out to the rafters, and it’s looking like his return for the festival will be no different. If you want to catch this Downbeat Magazine cover darling, we’d suggest buying a ticket soon!


If you’re a fan of the classics or prefer straight-ahead jazz, then shows at Pyatt Hall are for you. Featuring groups led by the likes of Roberta Gambarini, Russell Malone, and Emmet Cohen, this series has something for every traditional jazz enthusiast.


The Imperial is where things get a little wilder, a little later, and a little funkier. If you’re looking for a late night hang packed with new sounds, it’s the place to be. The Imperial lineup includes electronic funk-pop outfit KNOWER, California rockers Cherry Glazerr, and rhythm-heavy Afrofuturist quartet Sons of Kemet.


If you like things even farther out, our Innovation Series highlights the best of the experimental, unusual, and avant garde. In this series you can find free jazz, strange instruments, “slaveship punk”, jazz metal, and so much more.

For more info on all our ticketed shows and to buy tickets, click here. Our lineup of free shows will be announced in early May. See you at the festival!