Six must-see shows at this year’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Kandace Springs.

With hundreds of acts and dozens of shows, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival represents a challenge to anyone interested in the event but not totally up to speed on they myriad genres and artists represented. Here’s a short list of five must-see acts for those who are pretty sure they want to check something out during the festival’s 11 days (June 22-July 2), but aren’t sure where to start. (Note: the list tends towards more non-standard jazz acts. For those looking for more adventurous fare, we’ve included another list of some of the festival’s cutting-edge acts.)

Dálava—Czech band playing Czech folk music. Led by vocalist Julia Ulehla and guitarist Aram Bajakian, Dálava interprets folk melodies transcribed over a century ago by Ulehla’s botanist/ethnomusicologist great-grandfather. Vancouver musicians Peggy Lee on cello, Colin Cowan on bass, Tyson Naylor on keyboards, and Dylan van Schyff on drums.  (June 23, Innovation Series at The Ironworks, 235 Alexander St., 9:30 p.m.)

Dálava. Emma Jolie photo.

Thus Owls—Montreal chamber-pop from Swedish/Canadian couple Erika and Simon Angell. Huffington Post calls them “mystical and enchanting”, which is perhaps why they’re playing a midnight show. (June 24, Innovation Series at The Ironworks, midnight)

Thus Owls. Nick Heldern photo.

Kandace Springs—Blue Note recording artist Springs is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter/pianist. She counts among her inspirations Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Roberta Flack. (June 25 at Pyatt Hall, 843 Seymour St., 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.)

Land of Talk—Canadian indie-rock band back after seven years, touring in support of third album, Life After Youth. Led by Elizabeth Powell, Land of Talk has been praised by the New York Times and Rolling Stone. With Half Waif, aka Nandi Rose Plunkett, from Brooklyn. (June 26 at the Imperial, 319 Main St., 9 p.m.)

Land of Talk is back with its first new album in seven years.

Steelin’ in the Years—Full disclosure; this blogger loves Steely Dan. And you’re unlikely to find a better Steely Dan cover band than Steelin’ in the Years, a conglomerate of nearly a dozen Vancouver musicians who come together every few months to pay tribute to the pioneering jazz-pop group. Expect deep cuts as well as songs you know and love (“My Old School”, “Do It Again”). (June 27 at Centre for the Performing Arts at Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver, 8 p.m.)

Steelin’ In the Years bring the Steely Dan magic to this year’s jazz festival.

Thievery Corporation—Legends of the DJ/electronic music scene, the duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have been helping people find their groove and/or chill out for 20 years. They’re coming with a live band behind their latest album, The Temple of I & I. (June 29 at the Orpheum Theatre, 601 Smithe St., 8 p.m.)

As well, we asked our authoritative jazzbo friend to share with us his picks. They are as follows:

1. BassDrumBone (July 2, Ironworks)
2. Claudia Quartet (June 29, Ironworks)
3. Donny McCaslin Quartet (June 24, Ironworks) [most of the BlackStar backing band]
4. Gordon Grdina w. Jon Irabagon (June 30, Ironworks)
5. Phronesis (June 25, Performance Works)


1. Emmet Cohen w. Ron Carter (June 29, Pyatt Hall) [for the great Ron Carter]
2. Satoko Fuji and KAZE (June 28, Ironworks)
3. Shobaleader One (June 28, Imperial) [Squarepusher live band]
4. Nick Fraser w. Tony Malaby and Kris Davis (June 25, Ironworks)
5. Kurt Rosenwinkel Caipi (June 29, Performance Works)

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