TORONTO JAZZ FESTIVAL-JUNE 21st-JUNE 30th,2019
By Wayne Baggs
Great Venues, great weather, and top jazz players from locally and around the world. What a great way to spend the week. The options for free outdoor shows were plenty. The venues, being located within a comfortable walking distance of each other, made planning a day of great outdoor music easy. The TD Mainstage on Cumberland offered 38 free concerts starting daily at noon. Right next door was the Village of Yorkville Park offering 29 free shows. Just north the OLG Hazelton Lanes Stage also provided 20 free concerts. Between these three venues and the beautiful weather, it made for a great way to take in some unknown artists. What a great way to get introduced to Jazz for those wondering what the buzz is all about. After these shows The Gatsby at The Windsor Arms Hotel, again, just a short walk offered free concerts every night starting at 10 pm as did Sassafrz an even shorter walk, situated in the heart of historic Yorkville. If that wasn’t enough, the Proof Bar, Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville Hotel also started at 10 pm nightly with the Mill Street Late-Night Jam w/ Lauren Falls Trio. The Church of the Redeemer on Bloor also offered shows from Monday to Friday 7 pm daily. Great acoustics. The quality of talent at these venues was outstanding. And thanks to the great sponsors of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, all you had to do was show up.
For Sat. And Sun. of the opening weekend the TD Mainstage on Bloor St. West offered even more free concerts. As did the TD Acoustic Zone just a little farther east on Bloor West providing even more quality artist for your pleasure with an outdoor street performer atmosphere. The TD Side Stage on Bloor also kicked in for more free Jazz and exploration for families. Hemingways on Cumberland provided free concerts on Fri. Sat. Sun. of the Closing Weekend. The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar located at 1974 Queen St Westdelivered co-curated shows daily for a minimal cover charge. The place to check out Jazz until next years festival arrives. Providing a home to Heather Bambrick and a variety of friend for the week was the home Smith Bar at The Old Mill, another great year-round Jazz venue for Toronto to enjoy. The Horseshoe, the Danforth Music Hall, Sony Center, and Koerner Hall provided the ticketed shows. This year the big ticket concerts had a similar theme. All were female singers of the same Jazz genre. I would say a safe bet on all of these picks was what the organizers had in mind. The Tower of Powers 50th anniversary celebration, pumped by Yamaha being the only exception. That I believe to be Yamaha’s insistence and not TD jazz’s, my point being a little variety of the top ticketed concerts would be excellent. I own music by all the top Artists. Norah, Emily, Cecil and Diane are all at the top of their genre. It’s not the talent by any means. They all sold well enough. I want more variety in my choices. Minor complaint on what was a well run fun week of great jazz. As always, waiting for next years lineup and enjoying some of the new artists I’ve been introduced too, thanks to 2019 TD Toronto Jazz Festival.