People came out in droves to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Guelph Jazz Festival last weekend. A feeling of joy and festivity pervaded all GJF sites, and especially Market Square, which returned to pre-pandemic levels of attendance. Whether it was the thumping grooves of Samba Squad and Big Smoke Brass at the Friday Night Street Music Party, the sweet croon of Rebecca Hennessy’s Makeshift Island, the swirling polyrhythms of Eucalyptus, the deep global synthesis of Moneka Arabic Jazz (pictured), or the (surprisingly intense!) trip hop/neo-soul of Witch Prophet, the shifting flavours and moods delighted the large and supportive audiences at Market Square.
Meanwhile the ticketed concert series feature an exciting mixture of primarily Canadian artists, complemented by some stellar American and European acts, like the virtuoso player of electronically enhanced piano, Cory Smythe, and the sizzling rhythmic interplay of UK/France/Sweden quartet, [Ahmed] (pictured). Highlights were many, but the Montreal-Vancouver connection of Joshua Zubot, presenting his Strings quintet and playing with the 20-piece Ratchet Orchestra (pictured), led by and playing the music of Nicolas Caloia, in particular underscored the excellence of Canadian creative improvised music. So many rich, raucous, subtle, and moving moments.
As his envoi festival edition, outgoing GJF Artistic and General Director Scott Thomsonis happy to have shared this superb programming with Guelphites and visitors alike. He encourages those who experienced and recognise the value of the GJF as a lynchpin of the city’s live music culture to help sustain it, and even help it to thrive, into the future –– for, say, the next 30 years. Thomson states, “Since live music makes our lives better, it is in everyone’s interest that this event is broadly supported. To those who agree, consider becoming a member, consider making a charitable donation, consider volunteering, consider becoming a corporate sponsor, consider hyping the event in your networks to increase ticket sales. And to those who already do so, a robust ‘Thank you!’”
The 2024 Guelph Jazz Festival will be 12-15 September.