Vancouver International Jazz Festival preview
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
When it is summertime in Vancouver, it usually so hot outside that you either want to stay inside cooling off or walk around and do activities outside. It is certainly a time when hot air is rising—and by that, I mean jazz music is in the air. The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival is back to fire us up with cool jazz music that many people can jam to. This year’s edition of the festival, which runs from June 21 to July 1, features musicians that will not only appeal to jazz fans but to mainstream audiences. It is also the first edition since the death of festival founder Ken Pickering last fall.
Jazz music is not just the classic jazz standards that you know. Elements of this genre are also used in other genres of music including mainstream music, which is the case of the three headlining acts this year. These acts are all part of the Marquee Series which happens at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The most surprising act that will perform in the festival this year as a last-minute addition is the iconic rap group Wu-Tang Clan, taking the stage on June 23. The group that pioneered rap music in the 1990s can be classified as a type of jazz music because rap is like slam poetry accompanied with jazz music.
Then on June 28 we have the Grammy-winning group that is also the house band on The Tonight Show: The Roots. If you are a fan of Jimmy Fallon, you probably know that they can do any type of music. I saw this band performing during the last time they were at the festival in 2015 and their show was as exciting as a rap concert.
Another Grammy winner, Herbie Hancock, will perform on June 29. Hancock has been part of pop culture for the past few decades and has made a lot of memorable music that you might know.
One of the musicians whom Hancock is a fan and supporter of is Jacob Collier, who will perform at The Imperial in Chinatown on June 30. The British musician combines jazz music with electronic music. I recommend his song “With the Love in My Heart,” which at times sounds like an entirely different song.
One jazz festival performance that I recommend checking out is local singer Laila Biali, who does jazz music with a twist and won a Juno Award this year for her self-titled album. Her concert will take place on June 22 at Pyatt Hall, which is next door to the Orpheum Theatre.
If you cannot go to these concerts, there are also plenty of free concerts during the weekends of the festival, featuring musicians from not only the Lower Mainland but also around the world. There is Downtown Jazz at the Vancouver Art Gallery from June 22 to 23, Jazz Weekend at David Lam Park from June 29 to 30, and Canada Day at Granville Island.
Even if you are not a fan of jazz music, there is a concert for everyone’s music tastes at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival this year and you may learn to appreciate the genre. You can learn more about the festival, including the full schedule, at https://www.coastaljazz.ca/.