(This story is sponsored by the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society.)
The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival will celebrate its 35th edition this summer from Friday, June 25 to Sunday, July 4. While the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society isn’t afraid of a challenge, hosting a large-scale music festival during a pandemic was unlike anything it’s done before.
Last year, the festival was cancelled due to COVID-19. But this year, the annual jazz event has been modified to follow the Provincial Health Office’s guidelines—all of the performances and workshops will be streamed online.
“The 2021 festival is extremely deep and diverse, featuring performances from Vancouver’s talented local artists,” says Rainbow Robert, the managing director of artistic programming at the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society. “We had to face great adversity to make it happen and I think that those kinds of victories are more hard won. It was important for us to underscore our commitment to the artist community, the cultural workforce, and audiences.”
While it always features programming from local artists, this year’s virtual festival provides audiences with the opportunity to discover incredible musicians who create memorable jazz in our province.
The festival features a mix of ticketed and free performances so that people can attend several concerts without any financial barriers. Audiences can also purchase streaming packages for individual series’ or portions of the program.
“The artist community and the cultural workforce have been heavily impacted by these pandemic-related changes. We need to tap into the immense power of music to uplift people through these challenging times and to give people hope,” says Robert.
Festival attendees can expect to hear some tunes from artists living outside of Canada—it is called the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival after all. The festival partnered with three jazz clubs in the U.S., found in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, and two European venues in Amsterdam and Paris.
“I think we were able to do this because of the level of genuine inspiration that we feel about the music and the level of connection that we feel to the community,” says Robert. “Ultimately, our goal is to connect the dreams of artists with the dreams of audiences.”
With more than 100 virtual events, there’s a performance that will appeal to everyone’s unique music preferences. Here are five exciting festival performances that folks can enjoy from the comfort of their own home:
At 8 p.m. on Friday, June 25, the energetic Canadian hip-hop duo will kick off this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Yung Trybez and Young D, from the Haisla Nation in Kitamaat Village, B.C., continue to create lyrical masterpieces that challenge Indigenous stereotypes. The group has won and been nominated for several JUNO and Western Canadian Music Awards. Their popular songs “Real Deadly” and “Boujee Natives” will be stuck in your head for days.
This streamed performance is part of the Granville Island Marquee series. Tickets are $11 and can be purchased here.
This free jazz performance will leave virtual audiences impressed with the trio’s effortless instrumental talent. The group is comprised of cellist Peggy Lee, guitarist Cole Schmidt, and guitarist Dan Gaucher, who is also a JUNO Award winner.
The trio’s lively concert starts at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30, and is part of the Granville Island Jazz series. To watch the performance, visit Coastal Jazz’s YouTube channel.
On Saturday, June 26 at 10:30 p.m., the festival will stream a memorable performance from Birdland Jazz Club in New York.
In Bouncin’ with Bud, three of today’s finest musicians celebrate Bud Powell’s legacy through deep-in-the-pocket pulses and swinging virtuosic sojourns. Pianist Helen Sung, who once performed with luminaries like Clark Terry, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Wynton Marsalis, will play alongside bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Steve Smith.
Tickets to this international event can be purchased here for $11.
The sophisticated tunes played during this international event will transport all who listen to Paris, France. This free event at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, features performances by pianist and composer Roberto Negro, world-class saxophonist Émile Parisien, and drummer Michele Rabbia.
Live from Paris can be streamed through Coastal Jazz’s website.
The final day of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival will be celebrated with a performance from three-time JUNO Award-nominated singer-songwriter Jill Barber. Singing unforgettable lyrics in French and English, Barber has mastered the genres of pop, jazz, and folk.
The concert on Sunday, July 4 at 8 p.m. is part of the Granville Island Marquee series and tickets are available online for $11.
With the ever-evolving guidance of the Provincial Health Office, Coastal Jazz hopes to be able to offer at least some in-person concerts. Please visit coastaljazz.ca for the latest updates.