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Jubilee will be jumpin'

Jazz fest celebrates 25th year with diverse mix of old, new artists

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Grammy-winning singer Gregory Porter joins the likes of Arturo Sandoval, multi-Grammy-winning R&B star John Legend and art-rocker St. Vincent as headliners when the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival celebrates its 25th year in June.

 

Ellis Marsalis, pianist and patriarch of the famous New Orleans jazz family, blues singer and harmonica player James Cotton, rapper Shad and drummer Curtis Nowosad with saxophonist Jimmy Greene fill out the festival's theatre series, announced today by Jazz Winnipeg.

The lineup pays tribute to the jazz history in Marsalis and trumpeter Sandoval, its present in Porter and, in "the spirit of jazz and the festival itself," to cutting-edge music acts such as "sonic trailblazer" St. Vincent, Jazz Winnipeg executive producer Paul Nolin says.

The festival runs June 12-22 in various venues clustered in the Exchange District, including the Free Press News Café. Theatre shows are at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Burton Cummings Theatre.

Toronto-based saxophonist Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, a group of Cuban singers, pianist Laila Biali, and the James Carter Organ Trio, led by the popular saxophonist, all perform at the Rachel Browne Theatre as part of the club series.

Nolin said the festival is returning to RMTC for mainstage shows because it is such a great venue and to bolster its concept of a jazz district surrounding Old Market Square, making it easier for club-hopping fans.

Cuban-born Sandoval will be a draw for old-guard jazz fans with the trumpeter's connection to jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and Latin jazz, Nolin says. Blues has long been a part of the festival's makeup and Cotton is a standard bearer for the best of the genre, he adds.

And St. Vincent is "an interesting artist, a compelling artist" who a lot of music fans are dying to hear these days, Nolin says, adding sales for her show support that.

Soul-jazz singer Porter was one of the first acts booked for this year, and his Grammy Award win for best jazz vocal album of Liquid Fire in January was fortuitous, Nolin says.

Besides being a return to Winnipeg by drummer Nowosad, who is studying in New York City, and Greene, who taught in the University of Manitoba jazz studies program and was a popular performer during his years here, the concert will raise funds for the Ana Grace Project set up in memory of Greene's daughter, a victim of the Newtown school shootings in 2012. Ten dollars from each ticket will go to the project, which aims to reduce violence.

The festival will include a photo exhibit covering each of the 25 years. It will be on display in Old Market Square during the free opening weekend, June 12-15, and in the RMTC lobby during theatre series concerts.

Who would you have seen and heard in 1990 at the inaugural concert? Singers Andy Bey and Jon Hendricks, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, trumpeter Jon Faddis and saxophonist David (Fathead) Newman, to name a few.

Over the years, the festival has hosted the likes of Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Mike Stern, Marcus Roberts, Bill Frisell, Kurt Elling, Renee Rosnes, Nicholas Payton and Brad Mehldau. Ellis Marsalis has performed here before (in 1996) as have his sons: saxophonist Branford, trumpeter Wynton and trombonist Delfeayo.

The festival lineup is available at jazzwinnipeg.com. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at jazzwinnipeg.com, 204-989-4656, the Jazz Winnipeg office (007-100 Arthur St.), RMTC, the Burton Cummings Theatre and Ticketmaster. St. Vincent tickets and club passes are on sale now.

 

chris.smith@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2014 G3

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