By Skye Anderson
CALGARY — A bold and exciting comeback is stirring up Calgary’s jazz community as June 14-22 marks the inaugural JazzYYC Summer Festival. After Calgary’s Jazz Festival took a sudden nosedive a few years ago, the concert-presenting society JazzYYC stepped in and has articulately planned a professional festival that is sure to make Calgary proud. According to artistic director Kodi Hutchinson, last year JazzYYC did a test run of a festival in both the summer and fall.
“We ran those just to test the waters, to see how things would progress in the city and how it would be accepted,” Hutchinson says. “And they both did very well being low-key events so it really kind of gave us the wherewithal to go ahead and announce a festival this year and really put the festival out there.” He says that JazzYYC is focused on creating a sustainable event so they can improve and grow in future years.
“I am a born and raised Calgarian and have seen the peaks and valleys. So I am very glad to see this group doing this and being part of it,” Hutchinson says.
Raising funds and awareness are among some of the challenges the organization has faced. But it seems Calgary Jazz Festival 2015 has had a lot of support, being one of the most popular projects on Invest YYC, a website dedicated to funding cultural projects.
Summer Festival 2015 is organized as a centralized event in Inglewood for the convenience of the festivalgoers. The Main Stage is at the Ironwood Stage and Grill and it will feature world-class artists or as Hutchinson describes “heavy hitters” of the jazz community.
“You could go to the Ironwood every night during the festival and you will have a great experience,” he says.
Lolita’s Lounge is hosting The Late Night Show, which will feature top Alberta artists like the high-energy, alto saxophonist Don Berner Quartet from Edmonton. Friday night is a special Art Blakey tribute by the André Wickenheiser Sextet.
Summer Festival is all-ages and there are some events more children oriented like the Boogie Woogie and Bop on Thursday hosted by Calgary’s jazz and blues singer Heather Blush. As well, the Jazz Parade is set to kick off the festival in classic New Orleans style with a Dixieland band on Stephen Avenue Mall.
If you want something a little subtler, the Jazz Walk on Father’s Day has free shows around Inglewood. Various workshops at the National Music Centre are offered during the festival, one of which includes Cuban musicians Hilario Durán and Ignacio Berroa.
“I’ll be partial to the Listening Party workshop because I get to find out which type of music a couple of my heroes started to get into music with,” he says. One of those heroes is the critically-acclaimed, Canadian saxophonist Mike Murley. Each artist at the workshop is bringing three albums or songs that influenced them as artists; Hutchinson is bringing ‘Hello my Lovely’ by Charlie Haden.
The Calgary Jazz Orchestra is opening the Events Around Town on June 14, as well as the world-premiere of Suite Jubilation, a jazz suite that took 10 years by composer Johnny Summers. One of the highlights of the festival is sure to be Toronto’s Pram Trio, winners of the 2014 Grand Prix de Jazz from the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. They are performing on Saturday as part of the Events Around Town. Eli Bennett, 35-time internationally award-winning saxophonist, plays the Main Stage on June 22.
“We just really hope people will go check out some live music and have a good experience and realize jazz in Calgary is going strong,” Hutchinson says.
The JazzYYC Summer Festival happens June 14-22. For more information go to JazzYYC’s website at www.jazzyyc.com.AB, Alberta, jazz, Jazz YYC, JazzYYC, JazzYYC Summer Festival