Robson Square becomes groove central again this year when the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival returns with its free Downtown Jazz Weekend (June 21 and 22). The Boom Booms, Company B Jazz Band, Nomadic Massive, and Brad Muirhead and Propulsion, among 28 other performers, will play the two main stages sitting on either side of the Vancouver Art Gallery, while a huge LED screen will flank the Georgia stage this year and an interactive installation called TIME (Tonal Interactive Media Experiment) has been added to the licensed bistros, food carts, artisan market, and kids’ zone that made last year’s Downtown Jazz Weekend such a raging success.
But matters really begin the night before (June 20) with Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood kicking off the 29th edition of the festival at a sure to be sold-out Vogue. The historic downtown theatre will later play host to Jill Barber (June 24), Maceo Parker (June 25), the Charles Lloyd Quartet (June 27), and Cassandra Wilson (June 29).
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan inaugurates the Fortune Sound Club as one of the festival’s newest venues on June 20. Royal Canoe (June 21), King Khan & the Shrines (June 24), and Quantic Live (June 28) will also visit the Chinatown location, offering more indie-oriented fare over the course of the 12-day event. Also on June 20, the Innovation Series gets its start at the Ironworks with Tony Wilson’s Reach for the Sky featuring Debra-Jean Creelman. Among the Ironworks’ other auspicious innovators are Nels Cline and Julian Lage (June 26). The somewhat darker Late Night Innovation Series includes Peggy Lee’s Film in Music (June 21), Sun Ra’s Star System (June 22), and Destroy Vancouver featuring Nate Wooley and DJ Olive (June 28).
Among those coming to Performance Works this year, John Korsrud’s Hard Rubber Orchestra should be a firm favourite at the Granville Island venue on June 20, along with the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet on June 23. (Notably, drummer Marsalis is one of the guests running a free workshop at Tom Lee Music on June 23, as part of the festival’s extensive Jazz Around Town program.)
The Kay Meek Centre is yet another new venue for the festival, and it gets a big start with Bill Frisell’s tribute to the midcentury axemen who defined “Guitar in the Space Age” on June 22. The North Shore Jazz series also brings the Blasters’ Dave and Phil Alvin together again (along with Dave’s band the Guilty Ones) for a salute to Big Bill Broonzy at the BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts (June 23). Local genius Paul Pigat also reunites his swing combo the Smokin’ Jackets for an evening at the Presentation House Theatre (June 28).
We haven’t even gotten around to mentioning this year’s other headliners, including Hiromi: The Trio Project (June 21), Arturo Sandoval (June 23), and the Christian McBride trio (June 24), or 2014’s premium ticketed event: Bobby McFerrin with his Spirityouall Band at the Orpheum Theatre (June 22).
With Pyatt Hall, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Seventeen 89 Restaurant, and the Tangent Café also being introduced as new venues, this year’s fest boasts a whopping 300 performances in total. It all closes, as ever, with a weekend of free shows (June 28 and 29) at the Roundhouse Community Centre and David Lam Park (complete with another ginormous LED screen—another innovation for 2014), when drum guru Harris Eisenstadt and Vancouver’s own BESTiE help bring the swingingest 12 days of summer to another grand finish. More information is available at the Coastal Jazz website.