Guelph Jazz Festival 2017, Day Four Preview

A big beautiful day of music beckons! With three ticketed concerts featuring five outstanding artists and ensembles, and almost twelve hours of free programming at the Market Square Stage, there is enough music, and a wide enough range of music, to appeal to practically anyone.

The ticketed events kick off at 10:30am at Co-operators Hall, River Run Centre, with a solo by the singular, kaleidoscopically talented pianist Matthew Shipp. Fresh off a trio concert Friday night with John Butcher and Thomas Lehn, Shipp (from New York) will explore the piano at length with his typical knack for proposing and animating highly complex musical forms in the moment, a hugely compelling and satisfying experience.

At 2pm, at Guelph Little Theatre, saxophonist Butcher (from the UK) joins his Canadian band-mates Dylan van der Schyff and Torsten Müller as Way Out Northwest, a ten-year project to date through which they explore the horizons of saxophone-bass-drum instrumentation. Then, as the second half of the double bill, guitarist René Lussier’s trio MEUH plays swinging, funny, twisted versions of country and western standards, animated by his signature ‘foot percussion,’ characteristic of québecoise folk music.

Then, at 8pm, back at Co-operators Hall, the dazzling and legendary American cooperative trio BassDrumBone –– Mark Helias, Gerry Hemingway & Ray Anderson –– continues its 40th Anniversary year of worldwide touring. As one of the band members told Scott Thomson recently, “The band has never sounded better,” which is definitely saying something! Giving them a run for the money in terms of swing, energy, and inventiveness, Josh Zubot’s killer Montreal quartet MendHam joins them on the double-bill.

Topping off a full day of free programming at the Market Square Stage are two remarkable Montreal-based groups with distinctive international flair, the colourful 13-piece Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra (11:30pm), which combines the dance rhythms of South America with Eastern European brass band traditions, and the Congolese singer-composer Pierre Kwenders (9:30pm), who blends hip hop and RnB with rumba Lingala, popular music of his homeland. The multilingual songs on his brand-new disc MAKANDA (out just this week) are already garnering rave reviews from such publications as Pitchfork.

The rest of the Market Square program for Saturday includes Mike Essoudry’s Ottawa brass band octet, Bank Street Bonbons (8pm); Brodie West’s leftfield, swinging calypso-jazz combo, Eucalyptus (6:30pm); the New York East-meets-West quartet, Sandcatchers; Rebecca Hennessy’s Fog Brass Band, combining the energy of a street band with the range of a modern jazz group (3:30pm); Guelph’s own Animatist, with a sound reminiscent of a wayward Tortoise (2:00pm); and a performance by the ‘Play Who You Are’ musicians of KidsAbility, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the partnership with the festival along with alumni guest artists, Joe Sorbara, Lynette Segal, Friendly Rich Marsella, Rob Wallace, Susanna Hood, and Richard Burrows (12:30pm).

It’s a full slate so come fill your ears…this festival sure is festive!

A full Guelph Jazz Festival schedule with links to biographical notes for all of these wonderful musicians is available here.


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