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Kid Koala part of free Jazz Festival events

23rd annual Guelph Jazz Festival announces this year’s free events at Market Square and the Colloquium
Kid Koala
Kid Koala is pictured in this submitted photo.



Following an earlier announcement about The Guelph Jazz Festival’s ticketed events for its 2016 season, Artistic Director Ajay Heble is now pleased to announce the Festival’s free concerts at Market Square as well as all Colloquium events.

“This is a very special year for me,” said Heble, who will be retiring as the Festival’s Founding Artistic Director after 23 years. 

“For over two decades, I’ve watched the Festival grow from a small community-based event into an uncompromising and award-winning world-class Festival of the very best in jazz and creative improvised music. We’ve been heralded internationally for our unique vision and community spirit, and for the generous and active listening community that has formed around the music. Of course, it has been something of a bittersweet decision for me to decide to step down from the Festival, but I know that this year’s event will be a joyous community celebration.”

Jazz at Market Square program has always been a cornerstone of the Festival, engaging the City of Guelph by setting and celebrating great music right in the heart of downtown.

Located on Carden Street, in front of City Hall, Market Square will include a variety of artists, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. till late night and recommencing at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday till the wee hours on Sunday morning, food trucks and vendors from the Guelph/Wellington area, and a Monster Mural plus other crafts to engage the children.

Opening Friday on the TD Main Stage will be the Guelph Youth Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Brent Rowan with special guest (and current President of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) Ernest Dawkins.

The GYJE believes music making is one of the keys to the development of youth. Through exploration of the jazz language and improvised music, young musicians are allowed the opportunity to create music in a relaxed and safe environment. 

There is no pressure to fulfill a curriculum and the students are encouraged to create music in their own way.

Esmerine will then take the stage at 8 p.m., having performed a free noon-hour concert earlier in the day on the university campus. After Esmerine last appeared at Guelph, their album Dalmak won the 2014 JUNO Award for Instrumental Album of the Year.

The Montréal ensemble’s latest album, Lost Voices, is “a beguiling mass of dialed-down post-rock, classical figures and exploratory soundscapes … beyond words, beyond beautiful” (The Skinny).

Both the Fab 5s Hillside Festival and the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association helped make Esmerine’s performances possible.

The Chicago Underground Duo will keep the party going in Market Square at 9:45 p.m. They are part of the game-changing generation of improvisers who emerged in Chicago’s music scene in the 1990s.

Made up of cornetist Rob Mazurek (last heard in Guelph with Pharoah and the Undergrounds, featuring Pharoah Sanders) and drummer Chad Taylor (Marc Ribot, Iron and Wine), the duo cover the vast musical territories between familiar forms and far-reaching improvisations.

The night will wrap up with a performance by Canadian DJ Kid Koala. Kid Koala is a world-renowned scratch DJ, music producer, and graphic novelist. As well as four solo albums on Ninja Tune, he has released two graphic novels: Nufonia Must Fall and Space Cadet.

He has also been involved in collaborations such as Gorillaz, Deltron 3030, and The Slew, as well as touring with his unforgettable live shows, including Vinyl Vaudeville (with puppets and dancers).

He is the 2016 Improviser-in-Residence with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), Musagetes, and Laurier Centre for Music in the Community.

On Saturday, September 17 at the TD Main Stage in Market Square, the Kidsability Youth Ensemble will perform with percussionists Richard Burrows and Joe Sorbara.

Since 2007, the Guelph Jazz Festival has been partnering with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice project (and now with IICSI) and with KidsAbility Centre for Child Development to bring professional musicians into collaboration with children and youth with varying developmental and physical needs to explore the possibilities of collective improvisational music making.

Using a range of found objects, conventional instruments, and emergent musical technologies, the participants will perform their own compositions and creation.

Guelph based group Thunderbird will perform next. Featuring Nicholas Russell guitars, Andrew Liorti piano, Dylan White bass and Will Vandermay drums, Thunderbird is a psychedelic/contemporary jazz quartet that coalesced out of Guelph ON's vibrant music community in late 2012.

The group’s members have cut their teeth on everything from jazz standards at supper clubs, to funking up packed dance floors rammed with Guelph university  students. Thunderbird has quickly become a mainstay of Guelph's super-charged music continuum.

Following Thunderbird, Haolin Munk will make their Guelph Jazz Festival Market Square premiere.

Connor Bennett (tenor and baritone saxophones), Chris Ferguson (alto and tenor saxophones), Josh Wiener (bass) and Aaron Hutchinson (drums) have worked long and hard to bring the sound and spirit of modern jazz to the Hammer—not only through their own performances, but in the breadth of artworks sponsored by their dynamic arts collective/concert space HAVN (Hamilton Audio Visual Node). Don’t miss this incredible group, presented with the help of Kazoo! Fest.

Market Square won’t stop there. JUNO Award winning group Stretch Orchestra will also be performing on the 17th. Each of the trio’s members—Kevin Breit guitar, Matt Brubeck cello, Jesse Stewart drums—are at ease in different genres, and they are all nonstop players, teachers and creators of exciting contemporary music.

The Globe and Mail writes: “Although their music is built around improvisation, the path it takes and the ground it covers is individualistic and idiosyncratic.” Festival favourites, the Stretch Orchestra always love to play in Guelph and we always love having them!

Chicago based Hamid Drake is another artist not to miss! Often in tandem with master bassist William Parker, collaborating with such greats as Fred Anderson, Kidd Jordan, Larry Ochs, and Paul Plimley, Drake’s music has made for many of the Guelph Jazz Festival’s most magical moments.

The first-call drummer for jazz musicians and free improvisers alike, Drake incorporates Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments, as well as a standard trap set, to create a true “world music.”

In his Market Square solo performance, Hamid Drake will show two sides of his multi-faceted musical personality, playing drum kit for half the concert, then offering his unique combination of frame drum and chanting vocals in the second half.

Tim Posgate (banjo), Neil Hendry (guitar) and on tabla, Ravi Naimpally, are familiar to Guelph audiences from a host of performances. In So Long Seven, they appear with William Lamoureux on violin.

From Gatineau, Quebec, Lamoureux is a force to be reckoned with, with some 400 performances to his credit by the age of 20. “On stage, William leaves no one indifferent.

He's incredible, handling the bow as well as he directs the band” (La Presse, Québec). His collaboration with these veteran instrumentalists makes So Long Seven an exciting neo-folk / world music collaboration, full of sonorous acoustic textures, rich harmonies, captivating rhythms and vibrant improvisations.

From the countryside of Ogidi, Nigeria via New York City, Foly Kolade's Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble brings fresh contemporary Afrobeat to the Toronto live dance music scene.

Celebrating their debut Canadian album, Winners Never Quit, Asiko is an all-original contemporary Afrobeat band led by a master of the craft. Their live show is a high-energy spectacle that incorporates Nigerian dance, percussion and costume: “We specialize in making audiences get up and dance!”

Last but certainly not least, Fanfare Pourpour of Montréal will close the Market Square performances with one last jaw dropper of a show! On this joyful big band’s last visit to Guelph, Fanfare Pourpour “so enthralled” the local audience that, as the Guelph Mercury enthused, “they even managed to coax a few reserved Upper-Canadian couples onto the floor to waltz. Magnifique!”

This time around, this “large family of 19 musicians” is celebrating its fifth album, La Pourpour, which Le Devoir calls “lyrical, joyful, dense, cinematographic, full of contrasts, with its zany times, theatrical, and even gently free.”

Trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, guitars, banjo, accordions, violins, percussion, euphonium, tuba, musical saw and vocals combine in exuberant spontaneity and contagious enthusiasm.

Colloquium: The Guelph Jazz Festival is the only jazz festival in Canada to offer an ongoing educational colloquium as part of its regular schedule of events.

The colloquium seeks to bring together diverse constituencies and communities of interest by providing a unique educational forum for dialogue and discussion among scholars, musicians and members of the general public. 

This year’s colloquium, “Improvise Here!: Profiles in Practice,” will feature talks by Kid Koala and David Virelles, a workshop with Marianne Trudel and Ingrid Jensen, a keynote by  Myra Melford, and a pre-show interview with Amina Claudine Myers.

There will also be several panel discussions and special presentations where educators and artists explore using improvisation in practiced-based learning. All colloquium events are open to the public.

In addition, the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium presents four free concerts. On Wednesday, September 14, audiences can look forward to a free performance by Jonathan Voyer and Shawn Mativetsky at Silence.

Dynamic percussionist Shawn Mativetsky is considered one of Canada's leading exponents of the tabla—the distinctive Indian talking drum—and is a pioneer in bridging the worlds of Western and Indian classical music. Musician and scholar Jonathan Voyer plays the santoor, the Indian stringed instrument that is hammered like a dulcimer, and, with dancer Julie Beaulieu, he forms the acclaimed duo performance Samskara to promote transcultural dialogue through arts.

The next free show, a joint presentation with the Thursday at Noon series at the University of Guelph, will feature acclaimed Cuban pianist and ECM recording artist David Virelles at the Goldschmidt Room, #107 MacKinnon Building, on the university campus.

Now based in Brooklyn, Virelles has performed or recorded with Ravi Coltrane, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Dewey Redman, Sam Rivers, Steve Coleman, and Andrew Cyrille. When you hear his unique solo concert, you’ll know why The Guardian claims, “Virelles looks set to make big differences in contemporary music for years to come.”  This concert will take place at noon on Thursday September 15th.

The Festival returns to the Guelph Little Theatre where Navid Navab will present his extraordinary multi-media show entitled “Practices of Everyday Life ǀ Cooking.” The show is a compositional exploration of the interplay between the senses, featuring a virtuosic chef/dancer, Tony Chong, who wields foods, knives, pans and spices, transmuting them gesturally into real time sound instruments.

Movement and imagery unfold, as our master chef playfully prepares a meal with computationally enriched ingredients. There will be two free performances, one at 5 p.m., and a second at 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 15.

On Friday, September 16, long-time Guelph Jazz Festival favourite and JUNO Award winning percussionist Jesse Stewart will perform his GJF Remix Project at the George Luscombe Theatre, at the University of Guelph. 

Stewart is one of the rare artists (at present, the only person in Canada) to perform on the reactable, a new electronic instrument that is a virtual modular synthesizer and digital sampler, with a tangible user interface on an illuminated tabletop.

In his latest project, Jesse Stewart will remix and reconfigure the archived music of past Guelph Jazz Festivals, improvising with them in real time to produce an unforgettable aural and visual experience.

Watch also for surprise pop-up performances by YEAH YOU, an improvisational duo from the UK and Austria who create music in everyday locations not conventionally associated with music venues. You never know where these unannounced concerts will occur!



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