Festival promises real razzmatazz

By Chris Beauchamp

The horns are cued, the spit traps blown. Piano’s keyed, bass is tuned. Perhaps most important, the lights are coming up in a packed joint. So listen up baby, with cats comin’ from the world over to break it down for you, better you do your part to get this whole city jumpin’.

And since this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Jazz Festival Calgary Society’s TD Canada Trust Jazz Festival, it’s no surprise even mayor Dave Bronconnier is getting in on the action, declaring June "Jazz Month in Calgary." With some 50 acts gracing venues throughout the city, this years’ festival is guaranteed to pleaseƂ—whatever your tastes.

"This will be ten days of the best jazz you’ll ever hear in your life," assures Kent Sutherland, media liaison for the festival. "We have the best lineup seen in Canada in the past 25 years."

Indeed, with the line-up for the two main venues–Mac Hall and the Jack Singer Concert Hall–including the likes of Calexico, The Aaron Neville Quintet, Jesse Cook, The Spirit Music Sextet featuring Me’Shell NdegeOcello and the David Sanborn Band, Calgarians are in for one hell of a festival. That’s not even including the six other major venues, the free stages at Eau Claire and Stephen Avenue, or the plethora of artists and groups exploding onto the smaller stages of the so-called Club Scene.

"In addition to the regular venues, the Club Scene involves getting local bars and nightclubs that normally schedule music to advertise in our program with jazz related line-ups," explained Sutherland. The King Edward Hotel, Brewster’s Brewing Company, and the Auburn Saloon are just a few of the local juice joints offering live music to help ensure you’re never far from that sweet sound of jazz.

In addition, Jazz on the Walk promises to bring the free beat to the street, or at least Stephen Avenue and Eau Claire market. With stages at both locations and free daily concerts, even if you’re saving your dough for the giggle water, you can still come down mid-day and check out some licks. Jazz at Eau Claire appeals to the whole family, with a Monster Mural on Saturdays for the younger cats to paint on.

As if that weren’t enough, the festival is also offering free access for all the festival volunteers from the past25 years to the Sun., June 27 Me’Shell NdegeOcello show at Mac Hall. Add daily jazz workshops and the avant garde Jazz on the Wing series–both taking place at the Cantos Music Foundation–and you end up with more music than any one person could possibly take in.

From the seasoned hipster, to the inexperienced square, this year’s festival has plenty to offer for all levels of jazz fans. So even if ya’ don’t know your onions, you can still go on a toot, throw on your glad rags and get a wiggle on.

TD Canada Trust Jazz Festival goes from June 25-July 4. Complete line-ups, ticket prices and venue info can be found at www.jazzfestivalcalgary.ca

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