BEACHES JAZZ FESTIVAL – 2014 INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL CONFERENCE
@ Woodbine Park, Toronto
July 18 – 27, 2014
When July approaches in Toronto, it is a sign that the Beaches International Jazz Festival is quickly approaching and on its way. Since last year was a big year celebrating its 25th anniversary, this year the Beaches Jazz Festival continues its legacy of providing world-class music for free to growing audiences that attend year after year.
Opening the conference was the funky contemporary jazz stylings of keyboardist Quincy Bullen, son of the multi-talented keyboardist and producer Eddie Bullen. At a very young age he has been playing the festival circuit, and has become a mainstay playing on the classic StreetFest at the Beaches Jazz Festival.
Despite the fact of news reports that the Beaches Jazz Festival had to probably make drastic changes due to lack of government funding, it was apparent at the conference that sponsors such as TD Canada Trust and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation have come through at the last minute to give much needed support. This time around, it seems like people can enjoy two weekends full of music, food, and culture without any major takeaways to the festival experience.
One of the main changes this year is that ALL of the mainstage concerts are being held at Woodbine Park this year due to planned renovations at Kew Gardens. In the same true to form for the Beaches International Jazz Festival, there are various stages and various opportunities to hear a whole wide smorgasbord of music, ranging from big band, youth combos, Latin, funk, blues, soul and contemporary jazz.
Among the highlights of the TD Mainstage at Woodbine Park you can hear the talents of funk sensation KC Roberts, legendary reggae singer Jay Douglas, Paul James, New Orleans funk band Dumpstaphunk and an interesting reggae band from China named Long Shen Dao.
There is even a Party Island Stage where patrons can hear Afro-Caribbean vibes and beats from the likes of artists such as Eddie Bullen and Coldjack. To pave the way for the future generation of jazz, there is a youth stage hosting ensembles from various schools in the GTA and beyond.
In the Lecture series, there is a brass lecture held by Heavyweights own Christopher Butcher, a Latin percussion lecture by Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo, an ukelele jam with Steve McNie and even a workshop on comedy improv by Kevin Frank from Second City.
The mainstage concerts happening a week later feature the great voices of Toronto Mass Choir, Barbara Lica, Shakura S’Aida, and Bull King’s Rhythm express to name a few. If you want the sounds from a classic era, check out the big band stage where you would hear bands such as Swing Shift Big Band, George Lake Big Band and the Mississauga Big Band. For those that want some Latin spice in the evening, you can catch acts such as Max Senitt Latin Jazz Band, Son Cubano Orquestra and Un Poco Latino to name a few.
With the wealth of talented acts making up the festival, it may be a daunting task to choose which ones to see. However, it proves times and time again that every July, people can check out the music that they love and try out new and exciting things when attending the Beaches Jazz Festival, and have a blast doing so.
Here’s to an exciting time of music, food, and fun under the sun and stars.
– Conrad Gayle