Jazz Winnipeg is ready to take to the festival stage once again, as musicians dust off the ivories and polish the brass in preparation for the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, which kicks off June 14 and runs until to June 19.
“I’m very excited, obviously,” said Jazz Winnipeg program director Zachary Rushing. “It’s so exciting to be back for our first festival since 2019 – two and a half years from now – and to bring such wonderful and incredible artists to Winnipeg and support our local artists in such a meaningful way. It’s really awesome.
The festival will kick off with two days at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which will showcase “world-class jazz.”
“We have four headliners, all of whom are fabulous women,” Rushing said.
These headliners include Melissa Aldana, a Chilean tenor saxophonist; singer René Marie with pianist Dawn Clement; and Grammy-winning singer Lisa Fischer (who sang in the Rolling Stones touring band for 27 years, including two dates in Winnipeg, in 1994 and 1997.)
Rushing said that in addition to indoor concerts, there will be a beer garden patio outside the museum where people can enjoy more live performers and grab a drink.
After the first two days, there will be performances at various venues around the city.
“We’re doing 10 shows at the Royal Albert, which we’re turning into a full-time jazz club for five days,” Rushing said.
The King’s Head Pub will host 10 shows, the Winnipeg Cinematheque will host four and the West End Cultural Center will present two shows on its walls.
And from Thursday to Sunday this week, free concerts will once again echo through the Bourse district from The Cube on the Place du Vieux Marché.
However, this year’s Jazz Winnipeg is doing things a little differently when it comes to free shows.
“This year we’ve dedicated it entirely to local artists because they haven’t had a chance to perform in front of the public in such a visible and entertaining way in two and a half years. And we felt it was their due,” Rushing said.
Jodi Dunlop, drummer for Winnipeg band Mise en Scene, enjoyed the sentiment.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “It’s great for the musicians here, but I also feel like it would be so easy to book quality music here in Winnipeg. We have so much talent in our own backyard, and I think people will be so happy with anyone who has booked.
Dunlop said that after the past two years, his band had a lot of new music to play at the festival. And getting back into an atmosphere like the jazz festival is what gets her musical blood flowing, she said.
“It’s absolutely exciting… during the two years of COVID, everyone got creative with live-streaming and stuff like that, but it’s not the same as performing in front of a live crowd” , she said.
“It’s so nice to go out and do the thing and play live music, because that’s the heart of everything we do.”
More information at www.jazzwinnipeg.com
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for Free Press Community Review West. He’s a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, detective, lazy man, book reader and lover of concise biographies. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 204-697-7206.
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