And so it begins

Almost two weeks of festivities, shenanigans, fun and incredible music. The 2015 TD Toronto Jazz Festival gets underway tomorrow!

Each year around this time I write a blog post highlighting the various ways you can take in the jazz festival. The idea of exploration always seems to be central - discovering new artists and new venues, checking out a style outside your usual tastes or maybe even outside your comfort zone. Whatever you're seeking, you're sure to find it somewhere over the 12 days of the festival.

If you've never before been to the jazz festival (or even if you have), I encourage you to make Nathan Phillips Square your first stop. Starting Friday afternoon, we'll have volunteers on hand to answer questions, our on-site box office, food and drink, and a variety of vendors and sponsor activations. (And Friday night, of course, is our big free Dumpstaphunk/Morris Day & the Time/George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic party.) In fact, Nathan Phillips Square is a great place to start your jazz festival adventure every day - starting Saturday, for eight days, you can catch free concerts there at 12:30 and 6:30 pm, and our daily ticketed headliner concert at 8:30 pm. Plus - it's a short walk, cab or transit ride from Nathan Phillips Square to the majority of the other free and ticketed festival venues throughout the city.

I've already mentioned in previous blog postings some of the new activity at Nathan Phillips Square this year, but it's worth mentioning again - it's free, family-friendly and open to all:

  • This Saturday, June 20 starting at 2 pm, Manifesto enhances our Groove & Graffiti presentation with an all-star lineup of the city's best emerging hip-hop and r&b artists - details here.
  • On Sunday, June 21 starting at 2 pm, we're pleased to have students from the Regent Park School of Music performing…and invite you to join in on the fun - details here.
  • On Saturday, June 27 starting at 2 pm, we present some of the most exciting young jazz talent this city has to offer with sets by three different student ensembles - details here.
  • Plus: a new, comfortable outdoor seating area, cell phone charging stations and more

Speaking of family-friendly, a free concert is a great way to introduce youngsters to jazz music. In addition to the free concerts daily at Nathan Phillips Square, you can find free shows at Shops at Don Mills and the Distillery District featuring a wide variety of styles performed primarily by outstanding local musicians. Each venue has a range of amenities so you can come and go as you please. Of course, I'm convinced that once you hear the music, you won't want to leave…

Less family-friendly (unless you're all night owls) but still an exciting addition to this year's festival is the return of a proper festival jam! In the past I've talked about "the hang" - the meeting, greeting, chatting, laughing and general camaraderie which happens when you put a bunch of people with similar interests in the same place at the same time (and add food and drink for good measure). This year's festival jazz session, hosted by jam veterans Chris Gale and Morgan Childs (with other special guests), is sure to be a great hang. You'll have to stay up late, but it will be worth it for the stories alone. June 19, 20, 23, 25, 26 and 27, midnight to 3 am at the Jazz Bistro.

We're going to do our best over the next 12 days to make sure you have a fantastic festival experience. Be sure to say hi - it's always a pleasure meeting new jazz fans and re-connecting with past acquaintances. I look forward to seeing some of the many out-of-town guests who make the annual trek to the festival, and the many local jazz fans who are out and about seeing live jazz year-round. We aim to present the best music in the world; but it would mean nothing without the great people who attend each year.

And the rest, as they say, is up to you. Daily concert listings are available on our website. Aim to pick one artist each day you know, and one you don't - and let me know how it goes. I'd be happy to hear from you.

So - it's now time to bid adieu to normal sleep schedules, draw an extra shot of espresso, and head off into the jazztopia that is festival land.

See you on the square!


P.S. - Did you read the title of this blog in your best "movie trailer voice"? I totally wrote it using my movie trailer voice...

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