by James Florio, GAC Staff

The Guelph Jazz Festival is a celebration of jazz that ran from September 14 to 19. For six incredible days, festival-goers were immersed in top-quality musical experiences. The festival boasted a full schedule of programming including a vast roster of award-winning artists, and infrastructure improvements that will help revitalize Guelph’s music scene and support jazz in Guelph and extend its reach throughout the province.

This year’s festival featured three streams of programming featuring exclusively Canadian talent. The schedule included free outdoor concerts at four city parks: York Road Park, Mollison Park, Norm Jary Park and Brant Park.

Two special evenings were also on the agenda. Lisa Conway’s performance at the Goldie Mill Park ruins consisted of an amazing audio/visual experience that lit up the whole site. The sound and light installation focused on the theme of milling and grains.

The second performance was by Andrew Wedman with his Bass Piano XII, an instrument he devised by modifying multiple pianos to sound an octave lower. Wedman performed in an intimate trio session with Casey Sokol and Tania Gill.

Also featured were:

  • Revival Ensemble playing Ellington’s Far East Suite: Toronto reed player Ted Crosby assembled a superb 12-piece ensemble to re-envision this Ellingtonian classic
  • Aline Morales’s Baque de Bamba: 10-piece Toronto band featuring Brazilian singing and percussion
  • Boxcar Boys: Southern Ontario quintet playing quirky originals in the style of klezmer, Dixieland, and New Orleans brass-band
  • Togetherness!: Ellwood Epps’s Montreal quintet featuring the singular playing of Jean Derome and Lori Freedman on music by master South African jazz composers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, and more
  • Ensemble Jeng Yi: eight-piece Toronto group featuring traditional Korean percussion, zither, and dance
  • Teri Parker’s Free Spirits: Toronto quintet playing repertoire by undersung African American composers Mary Lou Williams and Geri Allen
  • Amadeo Ventura’s Spoken Rhythms: Guelph-Toronto collaboration blending contemporary poetry and Afro-Cuban percussion 
  • Turkish Music Ensemble: Toronto quartet performing traditional Turkish music on ney, baglama, percussion, and voice
  • Rob Clutton Trio: seasoned Toronto composer and bassist’s latest project with drummer Nick Fraser and saxophonist Karen Ng
  • Jim Lewis & Jean Martin: new project by long-time collaborators that add electronics to Lewis’s outstanding trumpet-playing and Martin’s propulsive drumming
  • SlowPitchSound: Toronto turntablist and sound artist featured in a new project that employs Guelph-specific field recordings
  • Quatuor Bozzini plays Martin Arnold: Montreal string quartet are peerless in their interpretation of contemporary composers like Martin Arnold, whose unique aesthetics have influenced two generations of Toronto experimental music
  • Friendly Rich Marsella, ‘The Birds of Marsville’: new composition by Friendly Rich on his orchestrion (street organ) and featuring elements of absurdist theatre in three site-specific outdoor presentations during the festival weekend

Miss this year’s festival? The festival is presenting five free videos Oct 1-3. Details here:

Want to learn more about these innovative Canadian artists? Check them out at

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