When the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival kicks off on June 14, audiences will have a chance to see a lot of local talent live on stage. Now in its 23rd year, the city's largest downtown music festival boasts over 50 Manitoba acts throughout its 10-day run in the clubs and theatres, in the late night shows, and on the outdoor stage.
"I think the Manitoba music scene is stronger than ever," says Jazz Fest artistic director, Paul Nolin. "It's always been vibrant, but the amount of world-class talent we have here right now is amazing. The TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival gets to showcase this great talent on downtown stages and shines a bit of light on the scene with the marketing and media attention we get."
Jazz Fest kicks things off in the heart of the Exchange District with a free opening weekend at Old Market Square, June 14-17. The Cube will feature a diverse all-Manitoba line-up, including Flo, Trio Bembe, Marco Castillo & Brazilian Beats, Flying Fox and The Hunter Gatherers, Enjoy Your Pumas, Mise En Scene, The Liptonians, The Lytics, Royal Canoe, Dustin Harder and The Dusty Roads Band, The Noble Thiefs, Moses Mayes with former 'Pegger Maiko Watson, and more.
Locals Greg MacPherson and Erin Propp will be among the openers in this year's Theatre Series, which welcomes a range of international names, including chart-topping R&B sensation Janelle Monae, indie rock outfit The Hold Steady, and soul legend Booker T. Jones.
The Pyramid Cabaret, Aqua Books, Le Garage, Times Change(d), Juss Jazz, King's Head, and Winnipeg Free Press News Café will open their doors to 36 Club Series events. The groundbreaking series also features plenty of Manitoba music, including Imaginary Cities, Small Girl, Doug Edmond, Helen White, Demetra, Monika Wall, Rosemarie Todaschuk, Sol James, Curtis Nowosad Sextet, Red Moon Road, Haunter, Sweet Alibi, and Sierra Noble.
With nearly 100 performers taking over city stages at over 40 ticketed shows, the venerable music fest draws thousands of concert goers for a wide range of events spanning just about every genre, from jazz standards to R&B, hardbop to hip-hop, roots and blues to indie rock and ska, latin jazz, and just about everything in between.
For those looking to connect with festival artists to boost their music skills, Jazz Fest also offers free workshops. Taking place at the Manitoba Conservatory, the TD Jazz Labs will feature sessions and talks by the likes of trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, drummer Mark Kelso, guitarist Henry Johnson, and more.
"I think Jazz Labs are a great, casual way to connect with touring musicians. They're usually completely interactive and the content is as technical as the audience cares to make them with the questions they have. Whether your a musician or not, hearing about the creative life of world-class musicians is a pretty spectacular opportunity," explains Nolin.