A note from Jamie Howison: Realizing that this post reflects my own personal tastes and biases, and that not everyone will share my sense that jazz music has the potential to “enact” theology and to embody something of the human search for the sacred, I still wanted to put this out there as a way of encouraging our commitment to connecting the arts to the life of faith. If you’re wanting to explore some of these themes a bit more, you can check out two other posts: “God’s Mind in the Music” and “Jazz and the Holy.”
he Winnipeg Jazz Festival is just about to kick into high gear, offering up various opportunities to hear some great live music. Last night the legendary Sonny Rollins played what was billed as a “festival preview concert,” and it was a very fine way to kick things off. Very fine. Rollins will turn 80 in just three months, and while he walked and moved like an older man, he played with a startling level of passion and power. His fresh and imaginative solo in the opening song ran close to 15 minutes, and never once was there any sign of his tiring. Great stuff.
The festival proper runs from June 25 through to July 4, and will offer an amazing array of music from which to chose. I’m thinking that the best small venue show of the whole festival is Christian Scott at the Rachel Brown Theatre (the small performance space at the School of Contemporary Dance, Bannatyne at Main) on Saturday June 26. The show is late – 11pm – mostly because Scott will have already played a warm-up set the same night for the Roy Hargrave Quintet over at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre. The Hargrave show will also be a good one, but I always find it best to see jazz shows in smaller rooms. The Downbeat Magazine Critic’s Poll named Scott the trumpeter of the year for 2009, which is really quite something for such a young player.
Depending on my energy after worship on Sunday night, I might look at heading over to the Rachel Brown Theatre to check out the Marco Benevento Trio at 12:30am. From what I’ve heard the guy is wildly innovative, which certainly comes across in the audio samples on his website.
There are also a number of good free gigs, including a few that I’m not likely to miss. In the free noon hour series in Old Market Square, I’d looking at seeing The Blue Fisher Band on June 28 and Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm on June 30. If we didn’t have tickets to see Toshi Reagon on Friday June 25, I know we’d be going to hear Andre Leroux in the Market Square that night at 7pm. And of course, there is free music on that stage the evening of Friday July 2, and from 3:00pm until 1:00am on both the 3rd and 4th. Much of the music over that weekend is not actually jazz, but rather music that springs from something of a common lineage.
Now, this is anything but a comprehensive list, and I know I’m skimming over all sorts of great stuff. If you’re going to a show or two, why not write in a comment below, and tell us what your picks are and why.