Read the Full 2018 Program Announcement

Artistic Director Scott Thomson, with the support of the staff and Board, is pleased to announce the programming for the 2018 Guelph Jazz Festival, 12-16 September. In the festival’s 25th Anniversary year, the programming reflects the breadth of creative improvised music, with stellar regional, national, and international artists and groups representing eight countries. Thomson states: “The programming comprises wide-ranging talent and complementary approaches – original song, instrumental composition, the creative interpretation of repertory, extended improvisation – as well as the full scope of musical tone and tenor, from the quietly contemplative to the ecstatically expressive.”

Wednesday 12 September features the community-based collaboration, Ottawa’s Rakestar Arkestra presents SUNG RA, the songs and texts by Sun Ra to be sung by the Rainbow Chorus of Waterloo-Wellington under the direction of Toronto’s renowned conductor, Christine Duncan.

The following night, Thursday, offers the double bill of the New York quartet Elder Ones led by the sublime vocalist and composer Amirtha Kidambi, and Toronto drummer Nick Fraser’s seasoned Quartet with New York saxophonist Tony Malaby. On Friday afternoon, Montreal guitar genius, Bernard Falaise plays solo on a bill with the astonishing UK-German electroacoustic trio, Konk Pack (Tim Hodgkinson, Thomas Lehn, and Roger Turner). Later in the afternoon, two bandleaders from elsewhere in the program, Kidambi and Darius Jones, meet for an intimate voice-saxophone tête-à-tête.

Friday evening’s program pairs the elite New York free jazz quintet, Steve Swell’s Soul Travelers (with Jemeel Moondoc, Dave Burrell, William Parker, and Chad Taylor) and a special international free improvising duo, Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández and Montréal alto saxophonist Yves Charuest, a hidden treasure of Canada’s field of creative music.

Saturday morning celebrates our long rapport with New York bassist and multi-instrumentalist William Parker, who will play solo. Mid-afternoon on Saturday features the distinguished Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii, who will present her new trio, This is It!, with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura and drummer Takashi Itani on a bill with the young international string trio with Canadians Marielle Groven (piano and violin) and Aaron Lumley (double bass) welcoming Amsterdam guitarist Jasper Stadhouders.

Saturday evening offers two song-based projects with lyrics in both English and French: New Yorker Darius Jones’s Le bébé de Brigitte (Lost in Translation) featuring French singer Emilie Lesbros, and Montrealer Jean Derome’s Somebody Special: Music of Steve Lacy featuring Karen Young.

Sunday 16 September offers the thoughtful international improvising trio of Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Pierre-Yves Martel, and Philip Zoubek on a bill with the incisive Toronto duo Brass Knuckle Sandwich: pianist Marilyn Lerner and trumpeter Nicole Rampersaud. Closing out the ticketed concerts, and indeed the whole festival, on Sunday evening will be the intimate duo of Toronto composer-improviser Allison Cameron (amplified objects) and Guelph-based virtuoso of the hurdy-gurdy, Ben Grossman.

Tickets and Festival passes go on sale for the above concerts on 3 July through the River Run Centre box office,

With the support of the Celebrate Ontario grant from the provincial Ministry of Tourism, the Festival will present two days of free music programming in Market Square. Friday presents a brand-new programming initiative, the Friday Night Street Music Party in Market Square 7pm-12am. Instead of bands playing amplified music from the stage, four groups will play in and among the audience in the grand tradition of danceable street music: The Shuffle Demons, Samba Squad, Heavyweights Brass Band, and the Surefire Street Band. This new program will allow music fans to get up close to these brilliant musicians, and to generate a human-powered dance party to last the whole night.

Saturday’s Market Square program, 12pm-12am, returns to the format of previous years, with diverse acts playing from the stage: Dynamic ‘Powwow Step’ producer, DJ Shub (formerly of A Tribe Called Red); NYC/DC-based James Brandon Lewis Trio, fusing John Coltrane and Band of Gypsy’s-era Hendrix; Toronto Afrobeat-Funk band, Surefire Sweat; Montreal electroacoustic experimental songstress, Thanya Iyer; Toronto Indo-jazz experimental band, Avaatar; Guelph favourite, The Jason Raso Funktet; plus community collaborations with the Guelph Youth Jazz Ensemble (directed by Brent Rowan) and the KidsAbility ‘Play Who You Are’ Ensemble.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) the festival features an academic colloquium to include lectures, artist panels, and interviews –– more information about colloquium programming will be made public in the weeks to come. On campus, in partnership with the College of Arts ‘Thursday at Noon’ concert series, the festival will also present a solo concert by pianist Agustí Fernández on 13 September.