Monday, June 23, 2008

2008 Edmonton Jazz Festival

The Edmonton Jazz Festival kicked off on Friday - unfortunately I was out of town, but I did catch a couple of shows on Saturday night. Four Corners Quartet brought the music of St Albert to Edmonton. Jonny McCormack, who leads the thursday Jams (Jonny Mac Attack) at the Castle Rock in St Albert brought the Four Corners Quartet to Hulberts. Khi Matthu on bass, Ian Morris on drums and Steve Frise on guitar. The place was packed with an appreciative crowd as the quartet gave two encores. I'm not sure what the upstairs neighbors thought - Hulbert's usually shuts the music down at 10:00 to give them some rest. Maybe they were downstairs enjoying the fantastic music. Hulbert's has Jazz this coming Thursday - Nathan Ouelette Trio, Friday - Brett Miles Quartet and Saturday - Geo K's fantastic guitar in the World Explorations Jazz Trio.

Jeffrey's Cafe has has the Jazz Diva series this week. I caught a few notes from Lorna Lampman late Saturday. You can catch Rhonda Withnell on Tuesday (I've already booked my table), Rollanda Lee on Thursday, Shelley Jones on Friday and Helena Magerowski on Saturday. Fans of vocal jazz will get their fill this week before the summer jazz drought hits.

Four Corners Quartet photos Slideshow
Lorna Lampman photos

The Edmonton Jazz Festival Society is putting on a stellar series of shows this week, check them out at Edmonton Jazz Festival website, or pick up a program at one of the locations around the city.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Nextfest 2008 Opening Night

Last night I took in the opening ceremonies of Nextfest 2008, as well as a couple of Nextfest shows. There was beer (not free) and pizza (free) for all, courtesy of sponsors Pizza 73 and Sleemans. The Roxy was packed with artists and supporters of the arts community.

ihuman was rapping up the stage as we waited for the ceremonies to start. Then Freshly Squeezed hip-hopped like never before. I have seen them a few times, and they are getting better and better.

The opening ceremonies introduced us to sponsors, and some of the artists participating in the festival. There were thankfully no long speeches -- the Enbridge representative summed it up "you didn't come here to listen to me". Then on with the shows!

I watched Scratch improvise a multi-person, multi-plot story, often 'changing places' like tag team wrestlers. Pure magic -- you have to see it to believe it. They had some 'equipment problems', which they deftly wove into the performance. It was like a good murder mystery, where you can see the end coming, but you cannot guess how them might get there -- and neither can they!

Then I watched Linda Turnbull perform Masked Memory, part of the Choreographer's Playground. This piece has been evolving for some time, and a smaller, earlier version was performed at the Mile Zero Salon series event Lost and Found . At Nextfest, Linda was able to work with a full suite of staging, lighting, and sound technicians to create a more rich performance. Masked Memory has evolved into a stark performance, that has a lot of emotional punch at the end.

Lastly, the James Murdoch band took us into the night with music in the Roxy lobby. I do like to leave musical performances before they end - so I left humming the tunes of James Murdoch band. Quite an evening.

Nextfest continues thru to June 15th, with something for everyone. You can check out a single show, or two - many shows are free. Or for a measly $40, you can pick up the pass and see as many shows as you like. I've got mine. Maybe I'll see you there.