Festival gives opportunities for local acts to win new fans


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If someone is a locavore for eating locally produced food, what does that make someone who listens to locally produced jazz?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/06/2013 (3522 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If someone is a locavore for eating locally produced food, what does that make someone who listens to locally produced jazz?

Simply a fan, without a trendy name, but also a good friend of the many musicians who create and perform jazz in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, which runs June 13-23, has a solid lineup of big names, but as any good fest should, it has many local musicians performing during the free opening weekend, in clubs throughout the fest and as opening acts in the mainstage series.

Helen White

That can be a win-win situation for the musicians and fans. The musicians get exposure to larger audiences and hopefully to people who wouldn’t normally hear them. Listeners get a chance to see just how much talent there is in the city.

Believe me, there is a lot of talent to see and hear and I’ll give a taste here. For a full schedule, go to, or pick up a fest program at TD Banks, Liquor Marts, McNally Robinson Booksellers and other spots. Jazz Winnipeg has created a Google map to find them:

As if to prove a point that he’s one of the busiest drummers in town before he enters a masters program at the Manhattan School of Music in the fall, Curtis Nowosad will be seen and heard on many fest stages.

He’ll lead a quintet June 20 at Cinematheque with Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Niall Bakkestad-Legare on tenor saxophone, Will Bonness on piano and Karl Kohut on bass playing music from his CD The Skeptic & the Cynic and some new compositions.

Drummer Nowosad, who just last week was named the On the Rise Award winner at the Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts, also will be playing with the Simon Christie Quintet on Thursday at Old Market Square as part of the free opening weekend of music that runs from Thursday to Sunday this week. You can see him in other Old Market Square shows with Marco Castillo & Brazilian Beats, Friday; Aaron Shorr Organ Trio with guitarist Shorr and Will Bonness on Hammond B-3 organ, Sunday; Soulstation, Sunday; bassist Steve Kirby, June 17, noon; bassist Devon Gillingham, June 22; Alfa, opening for DJ Questlove at the Pyramid; and Walle Larsson, opening for guitarist George Benson at the Burton Cummings Theatre, June 23.

You can catch pianist and trombonist Jeff Presslaff in several shows including:

Epp, Price & Presslaff Go Elektrik

Presslaff describes it as “original compositions, improvisations and arrangements for keyboards, vocals, trombone, guitar and electronic effects.” Singer Amber Epp and guitarist Keith Price join Presslaff on June 19 at Cinematheque.

Martha Brooks Quartet — Tribute to Sammy Cahn

Presslaff explains: “Martha and I have collaborated on arranging 16 classic Sammy Cahn songs. Think Cassandra Wilson meets Patricia Barber meets Shirley Horn.” Presslaff (piano), Brooks (vocals), Steve Hamilton (bass), and Rob Siwik (drums), Cinematheque, June 22.

You can also catch Presslaff when the Keith Price Double Quartet reprises its performance of the guitarist’s reimagined soundtrack to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The original performance at a Jazz Winnipeg Nu Sounds series show included a screening of parts of the movie. The Thursday Old Market Square show will be a musical performance alone.

Erin Propp

Singer Erin Propp, guitarist Larry Roy, bassist Julian Bradford and drummer Quincy Davis will perform music from Propp’s CD, Courage, My Love, some new material and a couple of covers at the Rachel Browne Theatre on June 20.

It will be a jazz and roots set, says Propp, who is looking forward to working with Davis for the first time; “As Larry says, ‘He grooves so much.'”

Singer Helen White is doing a noon show in Old Market Square on June 21 in what she describes as a double feature. She will be backed by a quartet and two backing singers, but the show will include a multi-voice vocal group as well, performing five-part vocal arrangements of White compositions.

And her new album will be ready for release during the fest and she “can’t wait to unleash it on the world of Winnipeg.”

Drummer Lucas Sader will lead a band of trumpeter Derrick Gardner, alto/tenor saxophonist Paul Balcain, pianist Will Bonness, bassist Karl Kohut and guest Erin Propp on vocals in music from Apollo: Tribute to the Miles Davis Quintet by The Lucas Sader Project, as well as new compositions and arrangements by Sader.

The June 21 Cinematheque show will include a Sader song titled Glow in memory of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, a victim of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre and daughter of saxophonist and former U of M jazz studies professor Jimmy Greene and Nelda Marquez.

Pianist Paul DeGurse, an active theatre musician in Winnipeg, having worked recently at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre on Assassins, as well as in Toronto as the music director on Winnipeg Studio Theatre and Angelwalk Theatre’s co-production of Ordinary Days, makes a third appearance at the fest, leading a quartet that features saxophonist Neil Watson, drummer Lucas Sader and bassist Karl Kohut on June 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café.

There is much more to see and hear from homegrown musicians. Information on all the fest shows is available at or in the festival program.

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