Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Calgary "Sort of Temporary" Jazz Festival Update

Well, unfortunately due to last year's debacle and last-minute cancellation of the Calgary Jazz Festival we still don't have a local Jazz festival a year later. However, there is a group of concerned local Jazz citizens who are taking a cautious approach to reorganizing things so hopefully we will have a viable festival up and running in Calgary in a year or so. Here's a recent article to that effect: www.ffwdweekly.com/article/music/music-previews/jazz-celebration-takes-steps-to-fill-jazz-festivals-void-7648/

Fortunately there are still a number of great concerts going on this week so local Calgary Jazz fans can get their fix and still enjoy great music all week. Officially Calgary is still Jazz festival-less but a number of people have stepped up to the plate to presenting a number of great Jazz concerts this week.

-The Jazz Is Society is presenting the Marc Atkinson Trio on Friday night and trumpeter Gary Guthman on Saturday with a group of fine local Calgary artists (check out my friend John DeWaal on drums). Both shows run at Central United Church. For more info click here: www.jazzis.org

-The Beatniq is also presenting four nights that feature groups that are currently touring the Canadian Jazz festival circuit this month. Wednesday features drummer Kevin Brow and his band. Quebec pianist Francois Bourassa is featured with his quartert (including powerhouse tenor saxphonist Andre Leroux) on Thursday evening. On Friday Polish drummer Jacek Kohan brings an all-star group featuring Dave Restivo, Chris Jennings and Seamus Blake (don't miss this one!) and then Calgary turned New Yorker alto saxophonist Curtis MacDonald brings his touring crew to finish things off on Saturday night. All in all there is lots of great music to be heard this week so make sure to get out and support these live acts this week. For more info click here: www.beatniq.com

-Canadian alto saxophonist and Jazz legend PJ Perry is also appearing with the Prime Time Big Band under the direction of Dave Jones this Saturday afternoon at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (2pm) and pianist/composer Lorna MacLachlan appears with her own group on the same stage on Sunday evening to promote her latest CD "Time 4 Change" (8pm).

So if you are a Jazz fan in Calgary there is more than enough good music to check out this week!

"Swingin' in Carstairs, Alberta with Terra Hazelton"

I had the pleasure of hearing Toronto vocalist Terra Hazelton and guitarist Nathan Hiltz twice in the past week. First at Calgary's Loose Moose Theatre and last night in Carstairs, Alberta at the Cafe Radio, a fine establishment recently opened by the Valleau brothers Jason and Sheldon of PolyJesters fame. Terra and Nathan are currently touring across Alberta and British Columbia. Make sure to catch their touring act whenever you can. This is some of the best live music I've heard in awhile. For their tour schedule click here: www.terrahazelton.com

Terra is an incredible vocalist and really sings great, evoking very soulful, bluesy and authentic renditions of classic standards and old school swing and blues numbers. She is the real deal and it's always refreshing to hear a singer with a great voice and such an affinity for the material she is singing. Terra used to perform extensively with Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards and brings a wealth of knowledge and real depth to the material she performs. Her version of Duke Ellington's "In My Solitude" really made my day. She's also a fine actor and you can see her work in the soon-to-be classic film Fubar II. Just give'er!!!

Guitarist Nathan Hiltz is a force and truly one of Canada's top young Jazz guitarists. His technical and stylistic mastery of his instrument is impressive and you can tell that he's really done his homework. It's always a pleasure to hear him play. He has a deep knowledge of the Jazz tradition, knows a ton of tunes and swings his ass off. Nathan's also a visionary and has been experimenting with his pedals and original compositions with the Griffiths-Hiltz Trio with his cohorts Johnny Griffiths and Sly Juhas. This band came through Calgary earlier this year and was definitely a highlight for me.

Terra and Nathan were nice enough to invite me on stage to sit in on a few numbers with my snare drum and brushes joining Jason Valleau on bass and his brother Sheldon on ukulele. Fun times indeed. All in all there is great Jazz music happening in these parts these days. Check it out!

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