Jazzin’ it up to celebrate music in Markham

TD Markham Jazz Festival heats up Unionville with sizzling performances.

The long, hot summer of 2016 continues with a diverse blend of mainstream and innovative jazz from dozens of gifted performers, as jazz lovers gather for the 19th edition of the TD Markham Jazz Festival.

Always held during the third weekend in August, this year’s Festival takes place all along Main Street Unionville from Aug. 18 to 21. Key venues include the Millennium Bandstand, the McKay Art Centre stage and the Varley Art Gallery patio.

Musicians also perform at “hot spot” restaurants and selected outdoor sites on Main Street during the festival weekend, as well as at locations around Markham the week before the main events.

The weekend kicks off with the much-anticipated opening night concert inside the Varley Art Gallery on Aug. 18 – the only ticketed event of the otherwise-free festival. This year’s headliner is must-see vocalist Molly Johnson. The Canadian songwriter and Juno award-winning recording artist uses her sultry voice and sassy attitude to interpret standards and original music in a fresh, matchless style. Opening for Johnson is saxophonist Alison Young. As usual, the evening includes refreshments and a silent auction, and tickets for the limited-seating venue are going fast.

Then it’s on to a weekend of sonic adventure. Friday night at the Millennium Bandstand cooks with two Canadian jazz stars. The evening starts with bassist and composer Rich Brown & The Abeng, a Juno-nominated project he developed to explore African and Jamaican themes. He is followed by dynamic singer Tanika Charles.

Saturday’s calendar is chock full of talent and originality at all three stages and seven hot spots. The evening headliner is renowned B3 organ guru Dr. Lonnie Smith from New York. Dr. Lonnie has just been named a Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts and will be feted at the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in early 2017.

A full slate of performances on Sunday concludes with 2015 Juno winner for World Music Album of the Year Quique Escamilla, a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer who moved to Canada from Mexico in 2007 and will bring a hugely energetic sound to life on the Bandstand stage.

Other weekend highlights include the inventive Boxcar Boys, who blend sounds of Dixieland, Klezmer and New Orleans; the seven-piece band Yuka with its homage to classic soul and R&B; and drummer Morgan Childs, whose quartet dives into hard-swinging jazz with gusto.

The festival welcomes a new artistic director this year. Sarah Kim Turnbull has served on the TDMJF organizing committee for three years and is immersed in the Canadian music scene. She heads her own management and booking agency, representing some of the best Canadian talent performing today. She also produces concerts, tours, events, theatre and film.

“To me, music is a conversation – a boisterous dialogue between artist and audience,” says Kim. “It’s a shared experience we can all engage in and communicate through, to better understand our culture and ourselves. Whether you define jazz as Bebop or Swing or Dixieland, we’re presenting emerging and established artists who are exploring all aspects of the genre.

“Come and chat with me during the festival so I can hear your views,” she adds. “And get ready for some outstanding music.”

Visit www.markhamjazzfest.com for the full schedule.



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