The Guelph Jazz Festival Announces its 2023 Programming

The 2023 Guelph Jazz Festival, 14-17 September, marks the 30th Anniversary year of the event, three decades animating the city with world-class live music performances by artists from the regional, national, and international fields of creative improvised music. We are proud to announce the key elements of this special event’s programming.

Highlights of the Ticketed Concert Series include Nicolas Caloia’s astounding Montreal-based 22-piece ensemble, the Ratchet Orchestra (15 Sept), featuring some of Canada’s finest improvising musicians –– Lori Freedman, Jean Derome, Josh Zubot, Tom Walsh, to name a few –– interpreting Caloia’s inspired and wide-ranging book of compositions. The UK/Swedish/French quartet [Ahmed] (14 Sept) –– Pat Thomas, Seymour Wright, Joel Grip, Antonin Gerbal –– will perform for the first time in North America. They employ the music and philosophy of the pioneering composer Ahmed Abdul-Malik as a lens through which to channel churning, vertiginous group improvisations that are, at once, conceptually rich and utterly visceral. Vancouver clarinettist and composer François Houle leads his GENERA Sextet (16 Sept), an international assembly including Benoît Delbecq, Marco von Orelli, Harris Eisenstadt, Michael Bates, and Samuel Blaser. They will perform the In Memoriam suite, dedicated to the memory of Ken Pickering, the founding Artistic Director of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and a special contributor to the field in Canada.

Virtuoso New York pianist Cory Smythe (16 Sept) will employ a range of mysterious electro-acoustic interventions to augment the piano as he presents the latest of his deep, set-length investigations of the enigmatic Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach standard, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” The Lina Allemano Four (14 Sept) features the superb Berlin/Toronto based trumpeter’s group, with Brodie West, Nick Fraser, and Andrew Downing, that has extended the sound of classic Ornette Coleman Quartets to something wider-ranging and truly contemporary over its two-decade lifespan. The Susanna Hood Trio (15 Sept) features its leader, a singular singer/dancer from Montreal whose improvisations across these two disciplines are simply without peer. Her trio, with pianist Tania Gill and saxophonist Kayla Milmine, presents unPacked, their stunning version of Packet, a suite of songs by Steve Lacy setting emotionally packed feminist poems by Judith Malina. Vancouver violinist Josh Zubot leads his String Quintet (16 Sept), with Jesse Zubot, Meredith Bates, Peggy Lee, and James Meager, through his ingenious composing designed to activate the improvising resources of this superb West Coast band.

Learn about all the Ticketed Concert Series Artists here and Festival Schedule here; more artists to be announced in the weeks to come. Tickets and passes for the 2023 Guelph Jazz Festival go on sale on 12 July; more information here.

Our ‘GJF in Market Square’ programming will feature, as it has for many years, free concerts in Market Square next to Guelph City Hall. Headlining the Market Square Stage on Saturday 16 September will be the Polaris Prize nominee, Witch Prophet, and her singular take on Neo-Soul/Trip-Hop traditions as exemplified by her brand-new release, Gateway Experience. Also featured on 16 September are singer-composer Ahmed Moneka’s octet, Moneka Arabic Jazz; the calypso powerhouse, Kobo Town; Saxophonist-composer Brodie West’s percussion-rich octet, Eucalyptus; Trumpeter-composer Rebecca Hennessy’s Makeshift Island (with Kevin Breit, Dave Clark, Michael Herring, and Tania Gill) playing a suite of songs based on texts by renowned Guelph author, Thomas King; and the all-female quartet Turkwaz, exploring vocal music of Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans.

On Friday 15 September, as we have endeavoured to do since 2018, the GJF will present the Friday Night Street Music Party in Market Square, featuring all-acoustic ‘human powered’ dance music in a range of styles, performed not from the stage but in and among the crowd. This event is consistently an audience favourite and the 2023 edition will feature Toronto Brazilian percussion troupe Samba Squad; Big Smoke Brass, playing heart-lifting brass band originals and covers of RnB hits; and the West African percussion troupe, Alpha Rhythm Roots, with another group to be announced in the weeks to come.

In addition to these concerts, the Guelph Jazz Festival will be working with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation to present Colloquium programming, ancillary events featuring festival artists and other contributors in contexts designed to complement and animate the concert programming. Information about Colloquium programming will be announced in the weeks to come.

The Guelph Jazz Festival is currently the only multi-day international live music event in the City of Guelph, and this year is celebrating three decades animating the city with extraordinary live music events every autumn. Please consider celebrating with us in the form of a tax-deductible charitable contribution to the organisation, funds that will ensure the further longevity of an event with such a laudable and unique track record. We believe that live music experiences enrich the lives of those in our communities, whether those who are geographically in Guelph, or those from the wider community of music lovers and practitioners who sustain creative improvised music of which our programming is exemplary. Thank you for contributing to this enrichment over the past thirty years, as well as into the future.
GJF memberships and charitable contributions can be made electronically here. For other ways to contribute, please contact us.

The 2023 Guelph Jazz Festival image is by Longueuil QC artist, Luc TessierRed Sun, 24″x24″, mixed media.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top