Entertainment Music

Jazz festival returns for city-wide summer celebration

By Brian Paterson

Postmodern Jukebox will perform at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the  TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. (Braverijah Gregg Photo)

Postmodern Jukebox will perform at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. (Braverijah Gregg Photo)

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival returns to the city next Thursday, kicking off a city-wide celebration of music’s endless capacity to inspire and enliven. During 11 dazzling days, the festival will light up Vancouver venues and public spaces with 300 performances that represent a kaleidoscopic spectrum of styles: jazz, reggae, folk, hip hop and Latin just begin to scratch the surface.

Whether you’re looking for a sweaty dance party, sophisticated sounds in a cocktail lounge, or relaxing open-air concert, the festival promises to deliver.

Here’s a brief rundown on where the music can be found:

Orpheum Theatre

Opening night (June 22) brings the return of Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist Seu Jorge, with a soulful, samba-tinged tribute to David Bowie (films buffs will be familiar from his contribution to Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). Subsequent evenings in the venue will feature jazz royalty Branford Marsalis and the VSO, electronic innovators Thievery Corporation, and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, whose old-fashioned riffs on today’s chart-topping hits have catapulted them to YouTube stardom.

Vancouver Art Gallery & Robson Square

Incredibly, more than half of the festival’s concerts can be experienced for free. On the first weekend of the festival (June 24 and 25), 30 such performances from local icons, emerging artists, and international guests will spill onto three stages in the heart of downtown. In addition to summer sounds, visitors can expect to encounter an artisan market, family activities, two licensed bars and more.

Vogue Theatre

To appreciate how far the festival has grown beyond the jazz genre, one only need look at its Vogue Theatre lineup. Audiences can take an auditory tour around the globe, with concerts from Brooklyn-based afrobeat band Antibalas, Australia’s fingerpicking guitar master Tommy Emmanuel, reggae legend Ziggy Marley, and the newly-formed Bokanté: whose eclectic musical influences include blues, West African, Creole, Caribbean kaladja, and more.

Frankie’s Jazz Club

Since the closing of The Cellar back in 2014, this Beatty Street bar has become the city’s beating heart for jazz. From June 23 straight through to the end of the festival, this hot spot will host a diverse array of nightly ensembles at 8 p.m., followed by free jam sessions at 11p.m.

Granville Island

If you’re heading down to grab groceries, you’re very likely to have a concert encounter, thanks to free, daily afternoon concerts at the Public Market Stage and Performance Works (who also host paid evening programs). Things will really kick into high gear on Canada Day, when the festival takes over the island with 14 acts across four stages.

David Lam Park

The festivities reach fever pitch in this culminating second set of weekend activities. On July 1-2, this Yaletown stretch of seawall plays hosts to indoor and outdoor stages featuring all manner of jazz, country, R&B and indie rock headliners.

What’s listed above is only just the start: more programming awaits at cozy corners such as Prohibition Bar and Ouisi Bistro, over the bridges in North Shore venues, and in all manner of clubs, pubs and cafes.

Music lovers can begin plotting their own discoveries at www.coastaljazz.ca.