Jazz Winnipeg Festival: Swinging Into Summer

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Itís that time of the year again when downtown clubs play host to a diverse array of local and international acts for the annual Jazz Winnipeg Festival. Far from a purely a jazz only event, this yearís lineup includes hip-hop, worldbeat, blues, flamenco, and rock acts as well as a slew of top-notch traditional and contemporary jazz artists.

The big names at the 14th annual Jazz Winnipeg Festival include the legendary California jam band Little Feat, vocalists Holly Cole and Denzel Sinclaire, the heavyweight duo of guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Benny Green, rapper K-OS, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the Cyrus Chestnut Trio.

The 10-day event is also a great opportunity for Winnipeg audiences to hear some great local talent as well, including Mark Reeves, Jodie Borle, Greg Lowe, Jennifer Hanson, Big Jay and the Jive Flyers, Dominique Reynolds, and Mood Ruff. The festival kicked off at Old Market Square with a free event dedicated to ska, including Winnipeg favourites The Afterbeat and JFK & the Conspirators. The Festival features a Manitoba Night at Prairie Theatre Exchange, a Tribute to Miles Davis on June 16th.

Following a trend seen at other major North American festivals, Jazz Winnipeg has been consciously broadening the styles of music it presents, remaking itself into much more than a strictly jazz-oriented event. Though some purists feel the festival is losing sight of its raison díetre, the varied lineup draws an equally diverse audience, which introduces the jazz festival experience to a broader segment of the concert-going public.

You can pick up a festival program from all Canada Safeway, Manitoba Liquor Marts and A & B Sound outlets. The complete schedule and list of performers is also on the Jazz Winnipeg website, at www.jazzwinnipeg.com.

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