How I Spent My Summer Vacation, or The Vancouver International Jazz Festival 2006This year's Jazz Festival had very full slate of local and international acts and the kind of strong attendance that bodes well for the future.
Words and Photos By Jim Dupuis
The 21st annual edition of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival brought forth a bevy of musical talent in a wide variety of genres, although jazz is still the primary focus. City bars, restaurants, parks, streets, malls, concert halls and studios hosted thousands of musicians from many corners of the planet. Beautiful weather and the scenic wonders of Vancouver added to the ambiance and
The Vancouver International Jazz Festival was held from June 23rd - July 2nd at various venues throughout Vancouver. Venues vary from the prestigious Orpheum Theatre to concourses outside large malls to outdoor stages on Granville Island and at David Lam Park. Historic Gastown is closed to traffic for an entire weekend to accommodate the performances. It is a truly international festival with musicians from all over Scandinavia, France, Australia, and of course, Canada and the US. While primarily a jazz festival, you could still find your share of blues, gospel, various forms of Latin and world music and even a touch of country/roots music. So what does all this cost, you ask? Well, you could spend the entire time at the festival and not pay a cent in admission and still hear top notch music, and a wide variety of it. On the other hand, the top priced acts were Tony Bennett at $105, Elvis Costello and Allan Toussaint at $92.50 and Dr. John at $55. Most of the shows in The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts averaged around $35. Neko Case was $30, Paquito D'Rivera $40 and McCoy Tyner on the high end at $50. Most Commodore Ballroom shows were around $25 as were the ones at "The Cultch." (Vancouver East Cultural Centre), The Ironworks, The Western Front and the Performance Works on Granville Island had most shows below $20. The real bargains, during the week, were the free shows at Granville Island at a couple of locations, The CBC and Pacific Centre. Gastown is the place to be on the first weekend with two full days of free music on 4 stages. On the last weekend it all moves to David Lam Park at the bottom of Yaletown and the adjoining Roundhouse facility with 3 venues. Many clubs and restaurants had varying prices for the jazz festival.
During the following week I caught a wonderful set of mainstream standards by the Hip Pocket Trio, consisting of Tyler Hornby on keyboards, Jodi Proznick on bass and Adam Rohrlich on both saxophone and guitar. Wes Montgomery's "Road Song" and the pretty ballad "My One and Only Love" were highlights. Some of the more interesting performances on Granville Island were by Vancouver 's Chris Gestrin Trio and the German/Norwegian/Swedish trio of Muller/Kornstad/Nordeson who put together some incredible sounds with their bass/saxophone/drums combination.
My annual jazz buddies, Don and Lily and I caught two of the major performances. At The Centre we marvelled at the playing of the Cuban sax player Paquito D'Rivera, the man who took over Dizzy Gillespie's band after his passing. D'Rivera is not only a virtuoso musician, but he is a consummate showman and a crowd pleaser. He had a few lines about recent US immigration policies and Latinos interspersed between wonderful solos from his alto sax and clarinet. Admirably, the opening act lead by Toronto bassist Roberto Occhipinti showed that Canadians could lay down a Latin groove, too. We also attended the Belmondo Brothers (France) with 85 year old American tenor/clarinet/oboe player Yusef Lateef at The Cultch. Most of the show consisted of solos being traded back and forth between the brothers' band and Mr. Lateef. At one point in the show Stephane Belmondo pulled out what appeared to be a large conch or sea shell and made wonderful sounds, while Lateef played them back on a wide variety of instruments. The show ended with a dedication to John Coltrane, composed by Lateef. It truly was a magical evening.
Canada Day found us at David Lam Park and The Roundhouse on another beautiful day in Vancouver. Mimosa, with vocalist Rebecca Shoichet and Karen Graves on sax and flute played a set of Latin music that got the crowd dancing. The electronic/noise duo Fe-Mail scared some little kids away with their indescribable sounds and electronic noises. Others sat in awe as they worked with equipment that looked like it came from a mad scientist's lab. Showing the diversity of the festival, the same hall later featured the Tena Palmer Trio, who had a wonderful rootsy quality and a completely different audience. On the same day performances by the October Trio, featuring the writing of Josh Cole, the saxophone of Evan Arntzen and great rhythms of Cole and Dan Gaucher on drums showed that the future of jazz in Vancouver is in
No-one is going to like every act they see at such a large festival, but there are so many options available, that you are bound to find something you like and at a price you can afford. It is commendable that there is mix of music genres and genders. Also, there is a wonderful selection of international, national and local talent. My only regret is that I didn't make time to catch any of the blues or gospel acts. Oh, well. Just think it's only 49 weeks to the next Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and I'm sure I'll catch some then.