September 18

KENSINGTON MARKET JAZZ FESTIVAL 2018-400 Musicians Play Over 200 Shows-Friday, Saturday, Sunday September 14, 15, 16, 2018

The third annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival was the best one yet. Deemed by Brad Wheeler of the Globe and Mail as “wildly successful,” the new kid on the Toronto jazz festival block is the brainchild of founding director, acclaimed musician, philanthropist and Officer of the Order of Canada, Molly Johnson. Born in Kensington Market, she dreamt of creating this festival for years as inspired by playing European festivals. Since the spring of 2016, with the help of musicians Ori Dagan and Genevieve Marentette, and social media maven Celine Peterson, Johnson has been spearheading an annual celebration of Toronto culture and talent. We were invited to the media preview on Friday afternoon, with  former Ontario Premiere, Bob Rae performing some tunes on the piano.  There was no stage fright from the former politician, and the audience gave him a spirited applause.


We were privileged to experience 3 amazing groups of musicians on Sunday. We started with Anh Phung (on the flute) and her bassist at Lola. The hour set included old standards from the jazz and blues genre. The two of them admitted that they were tired, after playing at the Polish and Ukrainian festivals early in the day. The fun part of the set was, their “improv request set “ from the audience .

Then we walked over to “Supermarket” where the legendary Marc Jordan hit the stage. Besides his great hit “Marina Del Rey”, Jordan covered Lou Reed’s “Take A Walk On The Wild Side” and most of his favourite hits. One fan arrived from Cleveland, Ohio to view the show.

Finally, we walked over to “HANDLEBAR” to experience the energetic “Heavyweight’s Brass Band-With Jay Douglas.” They made a grand entrance, after entertaining a crowd along the Kensingston Market route. The initiate setting at the “HANDLEBAR” didn’t discourage the patrons to crowd the tiny dance floor. The vibe felt like New Orleans in a small “sweaty” Toronto bar. The packed crowd were dancing up a storm and it was fitting to have this band as one of the closing groups on Sunday.

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What made the weekend so magical is the coming together of the Kensington Market neighbourhood and Toronto’s music community. Musicians, audiences, volunteers and participating businesses are what make this festival what it is,” says Johnson. “CASH ONLY at the door means an ENGAGED AUDIENCE. Our goal is to have sold out shows at every venue and we work very hard using social media and hard-working volunteers to stuff those venues with people who love live music  as well as Kensington Market.”

There were two brand new venues this year which the KMJF is particularly excited about engaging with: The Kiever Synagogue (25 Bellevue Ave), St. Stephen-In-the-Fields Church (102 Bellevue Ave), with more to be announced this summer. Returning participating venues include: Handlebar (159 Augusta Ave), Hotbox Cafe (204 Augusta Ave), Poetry Jazz Cafe (224 Augusta Ave),  Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave), Pamenar Cafe (307 Augusta Ave), Lola’s (20 Kensington Ave) to name a few. For the third year, Tom’s Place (191 Baldwin Street) will host the Piano Room featuring a Yamaha Grand and a dozen of Canada’s best pianists throughout the weekend. Tom’s will also host the opening party from 5-7pm on Friday September 14, with special musical guest Bob Rae on the piano.

12 MUSIC VENUES: AMADEU’S, EL GORDO’S BACKYARD, 4 LIFE NATURAL FOODS PATIO, CAFE PAMENAR, HAINAN COMMUNITY CENTRE, HANDLEBAR, HOT BOX CAFE, LOLA, POETRY JAZZ CAFE, SUPERMARKET, TOM’S PLACE, TRINITY COMMON,YOUTH ARCADE  STUDIO

12 KENSINGTON MARKET BUSINESS VENUES:  4 LIFE NATURAL FOODS, EATIVE, FRESCO’S FISH & CHIPS, GOOD EGG, JIMMY’S COFFEE, MODEL CITIZEN, NU BUGEL, PROHIBITION, SUPERMARKET, WAFELS & MORE, WANDA’S PIE IN THE SKY.

We would like to thank Eric Alper for the invitation to this festival.