Guelph Jazz Festival Readying to Entertain, Inspire and Challenge Audiences

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Sun Ra Arkestra, photo by Bud Fulginiti

Guelph Jazz Festival, one of Guelph’s Fab5, returns this fall to bring us five soulful days of innovative, world-class music. The Festival has been at the forefront of scholarly thought on jazz for the past 20 years, exploring the realm of “out” jazz across the globe. The festival features a main stage concert series showcasing critically acclaimed Canadian and international artists, free and Pay What you Can concerts at Market Square and around town, as well as an internationally renowned educational colloquium.

We spoke with David Lander, the Festival’s Metcalf Performing Arts Intern, about what we can look forward to this fall.

Guelph Arts Council What's your role at the Guelph Jazz Festival? What sorts of things have you been doing to prepare for this year’s event?

David Lander I am the Metcalf Performing Arts Intern. It’s a paid internship that Julie Dawn Smith, Executive Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival, and myself applied for together. The Metcalf Foundation does some great things – check them out at http://www.metcalffoundation.com.

D.L. My job is basically to help Julie Dawn Smith with the overwhelming tasks of putting the festival on. This year I have orchestrated the Jazz Around Town component of the festival and will be site managing the free open-air concert happening on Saturday, September 6th from noon to 1 a.m. on Carden Street. I also update the website, I’ve been to Toronto several times to help organize performances that were collaborations/partnerships with the Fort York Heritage Society – lots of stuff!


GAC What can we expect for this year’s line up? Are local musicians performing as well as national and international artists?

D.L. This year’s program features some of the best local artists – Adrian Raso Trio, GUH, Banjo Mechanics (Lewis Melville and Ian Pattison), national artists - Afrodizz (Quebec), Lee Pui Ming (Toronto), Pugs and Crows (BC), international artists – Randy Weston’s African Rhythm’s Trio (NYC), Vijay Iyer (NYC), Mola Sylla (Senegal) and even some not of this planet – Sun Ra Arkestra (Saturn).


GAC What unique qualities - besides featuring musicians from other planets - does the Guelph Jazz Festival bring?

D.L. The Guelph Jazz Festival is a critically acclaimed international festival known for presenting innovative jazz and creative improvised music in a community setting. We present the colloquium, one of the few events in North America to combine a scholarly colloquium with a music festival. Co-presented with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project (ICASP), the colloquium offers a stimulating mix of panels and keynote addresses by top scholars along with eclectic workshops and concerts featuring Festival artists. For more information on the colloquium, head to guelphjazzfestival.com/2014/colloquium


GAC On the Guelph Jazz Festival website, founding and current Artistic Director, Ajay Heble, refers to the Festival as “a must-go ‘out jazz’ destination for musicians and audiences from around the world.” Can you clarify what Heble is referring to by the term “out jazz”?

D.L. "Out" Jazz is basically just jazz that isn't 'traditional' jazz – more experimental, more improvisational, more unique forms... not big band jazz like Duke Ellington or smooth jazz like Wynton Marsallis but more like Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Milfred Graves. Check out them online. You'll see the difference!


The 21st annual Guelph Jazz Festival runs from September 3 until September 7, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase in person, over the phone, or online from the River Run Centre Box Office. Tickets may also be purchased at the door of the concert venue pending availability. See you there!

By Noelle Lalonde

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