Jazz Winnipeg is ready to horn in on the festival scene once again, as musicians dust off the ivories and polish the brass in preparation for the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, which began June 14 and runs through June 19.
"I’m very excited, obviously," said Jazz Winnipeg programs manager Zachary Rushing. "It’s so thrilling to be coming back for our first festival since 2019 — two and a half years off — and to be bringing such wonderful and incredible artists to Winnipeg and also supporting our local artists in such a significant way. It feels really great."
The festival will kick off with two days at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which will feature "world-class jazz."
"We have four headliners, all of whom are fabulous women," Rushing said.
Those headliners include Melissa Aldana, a Chilean tenor saxophone player; vocalist René Marie with pianist Dawn Clement; and Grammy Award–winning vocalist Lisa Fischer (who sang back-up in the Rolling Stones touring band for 27 years, including two dates in Winnipeg, in 1994 and 1997.)
Rushing said in addition to the indoor concerts, there will be a beer garden patio outside the museum where people can enjoy more live performers and have a beverage.
After the first two days, there will be shows at various venues around town.
"We are doing 10 shows at the Royal Albert, which we’re turning into a full-time jazz club for five days," Rushing said.
The King’s Head Pub will host 10 shows, Winnipeg Cinematheque will host four, and the West End Cultural Centre will have two shows rocking its walls.
And from Thursday to Sunday that week, free concerts will once again ring out through the Exchange District from The Cube in Old Market Square.
However, this year’s Jazz Winnipeg is doing things a little bit differently when it comes to the free shows.
"This year we’ve devoted it to local performers entirely because they’ve not had a chance to be out in front of the public in such a visible and fun engaging way in two and a half years. And we felt it was due to them," Rushing said.
Jodi Dunlop, drummer in Winnipeg band Mise en Scene, appreciated the sentiment.
"I think it’s such a great idea," she said. "It’s awesome for the musicians here, but also I feel like it would be so easy to book quality music here in Winnipeg. We have so much talent in our own backyard, and I think people will be so happy with everyone who’s booked."
Dunlop said after these past two years, her band has lots of new music to play at the festival. And getting back into an atmosphere like the jazz festival is what gets her musical blood flowing, she said.
"It’s absolutely exciting… during the two years of COVID, everyone got creative doing live streaming and stuff like that, but that’s not the same as playing in front of a live crowd," she said.
"It’s so nice to actually go out and do the thing and play live music, because that’s the heart of everything we do."
Find more information at www.jazzwinnipeg.com
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7206.