The Jazz Winnipeg Festival has announced its 2013 lineup. From mainstream jazz superstars to the hottest hip hop, traditional Dixieland and rhythmic Latin sounds, the festival has something to suit every taste.
The Roots were already announced earlier in the season. They performed here two years ago and sold out Pantages Playhouse, so this year they will play at Centennial Concert Hall.
"That should be a great party," says Paul Nolin, executive producer of the festival. "First and foremost I think these guys are really one of the premier hip hop groups that are still out there working and remaining relevant today. They've been at it for 25 years and they've managed to retain their integrity and continue to put out really interesting music.
"And of course apart from that I think their popularity has really surged as the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and likely in 2014 will be the next Tonight Show band. So I think they've got lots of artistic integrity and lots of popular appeal, so as the producer of the festival I couldn't ask for better than that."
If hip hop's not your thing, playing opposite The Roots at the West End Cultural Centre is a terrific saxophone player, Courtney Pine. "His was one of the first CDs I ever bought," says Nolin. "It was part of my discovery of jazz."
The legendary George Benson performs June 23 (supplied by Jazz Winnipeg)
A highlight will surely be jazz legend George Benson, who's been performing on stage for five decades. Benson's mainstream style will have broad appeal.
"He's got a smooth flair these days, a bit more of an R&B vibe, so if you want to see world-class talent on stage, but you don't want to veer too deep into contemporary jazz territory, I think George is going to put on a great, great show," says Nolin.
Other names include the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and their traditional Dixieland sound, R&B soul singer Bettye Lavette, Rudresh Mahanthappa's Gamak who blend contemporary jazz with Indian classical music, traditional jazz vocalist Jane Monheit and contemporary singer Patricia Barber and her Quartet.
This year Nolin is excited that they have gathered their club series into venues in the Exchange District, all within a two-block radius. "Of course our pals over at the Fringe Festival do a great job of that. So we wanted to bottle some of that lightning and get some of that energy happening on the streets between our venues."
Club acts include Curtis MacDonald who will perform on the Friday night, then will stick around to perform with the Manitoba High School Honour Jazz Bands. "He's one of those young lions, up and coming," says Nolin. He is also excited about a return visit of Coral Egan who he calls a really terrific young performer.
As usual, the festival features an impressive Manitoba lineup. Of nearly 100 acts, well over half are local. "The festival is as much as anything else a celebration of the amazing music scene and talent we have here in Winnipeg," says Nolin.
"I think if a festival can accomplish one thing, it's to create an atmosphere of discovery and an opportunity for audiences to take risks, get out and find new artists and new genres that really excite them."
Look for Janice Finlay, the Keith Price Double Quartet, Walle Larsson and Papa Mambo, just to name a few.
New this year is the Cube Lounge, set for the closing weekend of the festival. It will feature traditional jazz on the Cube stage in Old Market Square with more of a lounge feel, in contrast to the party atmosphere of the opening weekend.
The festival aims to please the whole range of jazz tastes, but is designed to draw new people in, too. "In order to remain an exciting and relevant music event for people in the community we've got to broaden the appeal," says Nolin.
"The festival is a celebration of music. I don't believe in today's day and age that we ought to be strict about our tastes and what we might experience. We have to deliver a broad program to really engage the public."
The Jazz Winnipeg Festival takes place June 13 - 23.