Travel Blog

2 Jun

TD Vancouver Jazz Fest to Feature 150 Free Concerts

Photo credit: TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Photo credit: TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Nothing says summer in Vancouver like jazz on the streets.

The 28th instalment of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival starts June 21.  For 10 straight days, the city is awash in soul, RB, reggae, roots and – yes – jazz sounds.   More than a half-million music lovers turn out for more than 300 concerts, making the jazz fest one of the biggest (if not the biggest) musical event of the summer.

And the best part? Nearly half of those concerts are free.

The festival kicks off with the Downtown Jazz Weekend, June 22-June 23, two days of free concerts in the heart of the city.  Last year nearly 150,000 fans showed up to hear free music on two stages near the Vancouver Art Gallery.  This year’s lineup promises to be a crowd-pleaser, as well.

Highlights of the opening weekend include Gypsy jazz favorites from Halifax Gypsophilia,  Los Angeles-based soul rockers Orgone and Juno-winning singer Kellylee Evans.  To add to the festivities, there will also be not one but two beer gardens, one on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza and the other on Howe Street.  In addition, the Robson Square ice rink will be transformed into a kid-friendly Family Zone, with music for the younger set.

Over the following week, some the biggest names in jazz hit Vancouver stages in paid performances at venues throughout the city.  Headliners this year include 14-time Grammy-winning pianist Herbie Hancock, as well as RB vocalist Macy Gray and New Orleans great Dr. John, who blends jazz with funk, creole music and a bit of voodoo.

Then there’s even more free music.

Yaletown is the scene of the David Lam Park Jazz Weekend, June 29-June 30.   Huge crowds gather at the grassy, waterfront venue to hear concerts throughout the afternoons and into the evenings.  Hot acts this year include Cuban salsa all-stars Wil Campa y su Gran Union, as well as big band meets Caribbean groove sensation the Roberto Lopez Afro-Columbian Jazz Orchestra.

And the festival goes out with a bang on Canada Day (July 1) with free music on four stages on Granville Island.  14 separate free concerts will be held at the Public Market Stage, Performance Works, Railspur District Stage and Ron Basford Park Stage.  Local and international talent includes soulful Vancouver vocalist Sibel Thrasher, saxophonist Michael Blake and Hammond-organ-led funksters B Funk.

For the full lineup, vist the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival website.

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza

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