Seven Vancouver International Jazz Festival shows for people who don’t like jazz (and seven for people who do)

Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart play this year's Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart play this year’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Every year, when the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival rolls around, our ever-so knowledgeable jazz music aficionado friend tells us about some awesome Norwegian tenor saxophonist we have to see, or the piano player that toured with Miles Davis for six weeks in 1963, and who can’t be missed.

That’s all well and good, what if we don’t really, uhm, like jazz?

Fortunately, the jazz festival – from June 18 – July 1, at various venues around town – hosts a wide variety of acts, including groups that can be enjoyed even if you don’t have Sketches of Spain, Kind of Blue and/or Love Supreme in your record collection (or even if you do, and that’s the limit of the jazz titles in your collection). Here’s a look at seven of them. And, in the interests of fairness, our jazz-loving friend also shares his recommendations.

Petunia and the Vipers  – The local band’s mix of country and rockabilly has garnered rave reviews from coast to coast. (June 23, Blueshore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts, Capilano University, $23)

Petunia & The Vipers - Full Line Up

Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart – Two acclaimed Montreal bands collaborate to create some heady, atmospheric music. (June 23, Fortune Sound Club, $20)

The Ballantynes – Another local act, this one a Motown-loving soul/pop/rock band that will have you on your feet. (June 28, David Lam Park, free)

The Waifs – Australian folk-pop trio formed in the ’90s, still touring and making sweet musical love to their fans. (June 30, Blueshore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts, Capilano University, $28)

John Korsrud’s Latin Ensemble – Vancouver trumpet player John Korsrud leads an ensemble through music by the likes of Michel Camilo, Arturo Sandoval, Chucho Valdes, and more. (June 20, 6:45, Robson Stage, free)

Fond of Tigers – This genre-bending, Juno Award-winning seven-piece blend a variety of styles into something improvisational and unclassifiable. Er. sort of like jazz. (Georgia Stage, June 20, free)

Son Lux (Fortune Sound Club, June 26, $15) – Composer/musician known for his experimentation and even a collaboration with Lorde, the song “Easy (Touch Screens)”.

And, for recommendations in the jazzier realm, we quote our friend John W.:

1. Bad Plus/Joshua Redman – “I haven’t heard the new album yet but the combination is irresistible.” (June 24, Vogue Theatre,$45)

2. Fred Hersch Trio – “One of the top mainstream piano jazz trios going. Fantastic player with a great band.” (June 19, Performance Works, $38.50)

3. Antonio Sanchez and Migration – “A great drummer whose gotten some fame from doing the soundtrack to [the movie] Birdman. With a great band, including Vancouver’s Seamus Blake.” (June 27, Performance Works, $38.50)

4. Dave Douglas and High Risk – “A brand new band whom I haven’t heard yet. Douglas is one of the most important players (trumpet) and composers, and is always interesting. I’ve seen him more often than any other performer with his various other bands.” (June 28 at Performance Works, $38.50)

5. Phronesis – “A new British piano trio. I like what I’ve heard.” (June 29 at Performance Works, $38.50)

6. Abdullah Ibrahim – “Venerable South African pianist. I think he’s in his late ’70s. I’ve heard his ’60s stuff. Don’t know what to expect with this one. He hasn’t been here in my memory.” (June 28 at the Vogue Theatre, $39.50)

7. Louis Moholo-Moholo – “Great South African drummer who goes waaayy back. One of my favourite young pianists, Alexander Hawkins, is in his band. Possibly a bit more ‘avant-garde’ than the others.” (June 25 at Ironworks, $25)

John adds, “For that matter, just about any show at Ironworks looks interesting to me. Also acts like Kenny Werner, Han Bennink/New Dutch Swing and Christine/Ingrid Jensen Big Band.” (For a full listing of events and shows, visit

What are you looking forward to at this year’s jazz fest? Let us know below!


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