Last year featured a lot of great jazz played in the city by local musicians and visiting artists alike, and the new year offers just as much promise, or more.
So, it's time to look ahead at some of what 2014's lineup has to offer in the near future.
The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival presents its 25th annual event, June 12-21, so we can expect a celebration to mark that milestone. In the meantime, festival producer, Jazz Winnipeg, presents the wonderful singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, March 11, at the West End Cultural Centre. Tickets are $28 at the Jazz Winnipeg office and jazzwinnipeg.com.
The Grammy-nominated singer, who won the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, is an artist you'll want to see and hear perform. On her recent album, WomanChild, the evocative singer cherishes the history of jazz and blues while presenting it in a contemporary fashion.
But first, guitarist Greg Lowe kicks off the festival's Nu Sounds series on Jan. 19 at the Park Theatre. Tickets are $12 at the same locations.
The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra features Canadian singer Denzel Sinclaire in time for Valentine's Day with three concerts titled My One And Only Love, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Tickets are $34 for adults and $15 for students at winnipegjazzorchestra.com.
The Brubeck Brothers Quartet pays tribute to Dave Brubeck in three Izzy Asper Jazz Performances series concerts on March 8 and 9 at the Berney Theatre. Drummer Dan and bassist and trombonist Chris honour their pianist and composer father with a program of some of his classic jazz compositions. Ticket information is available at radyjcc.com.
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The Dec. 29 concert and jam session of Winnipeg expats home for the holidays was a success: there was great playing by the house band of saxophonists Colin Power (Montreal) and Ben Dietschi (Toronto), trumpeter John Pittman (Toronto), pianist Scott Metcalfe (Toronto), bassist Devon Gillingham (New York), drummer Curtis Nowosad (New York) and Winnipeg guitarist Keith Price, who put together the show, and some great music written by the band members.
The band members first got together years ago as teens sneaking into a weekly jam session, and for longtime local jazz fans it was rewarding to hear what accomplished musicians and composers they have become.
On Tuesday at Mardi Jazz at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain, you can hear a band of mainly young players led by bassist Gillingham, including pianist Will Bonness, guitarist Aaron Shorr, trumpeter Andrew Littleford, tenor saxophonist Niall Bakkestad-Legare, drummer Quincy Davis and singer Joanna Majoko.
The focus will be on new music by Gillingham, the 18-year-old Winnipegger studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, and the winner of the first Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington student composition contest for his tune Remember to Forget.
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B.C.-based saxophonist and pianist Phil Dwyer was named a Member of the Order of Canada last week "for his contributions to jazz as a performer, composer and producer, and for increasing access to music education in the community."
What that means is the 2012 Juno Award-winner for his album Changing Seasons has been officially recognized for being one hell of a musician.
Dwyer has his own line of saxophones, SeaWind Instruments, and recently announced he will attend the University of New Brunswick law school in the fall "to start a brand new adventure."
Listening to Dwyer live and on recordings over the years has been a good adventure for jazz fans, so let's hope this law degree doesn't get in the way too much.
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A lot of great jazz musicians died in 2013, some just in their 40s, others hitting 90-plus. Whatever age they were, that's a huge amount of talent and experience lost to the jazz world:
Ross Taggart, Canadian pianist and saxophonist, Jan. 9
Donald Byrd, American trumpeter, Feb. 4
Bebo Valdés, Cuban pianist, arranger and composer, March 22
Mulgrew Miller, American pianist, May 29
George Duke, American keyboardist, Aug. 5
Cedar Walton, American pianist, Aug. 18
Albert Murray, author and co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Aug. 18
Marian McPartland, pianist and host of NPR's Piano Jazz, Aug. 20
Chico Hamilton, American drummer, Nov. 25
Jim Hall, American guitarist, Dec. 10
Yusef Lateef, American multi-instrumentalist, Dec. 23
Dwayne Burno, American bassist, Dec. 28