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John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Wynton Marsalis

Toronto is home to a jazz scene that rivals, and in most cases exceeds that of most other cities. One reason may be the sheer number of excellent musicians that reside there, but the city also has a cultural infrastructure that supports the music, including three major jazz clubs, a number of vital smaller venues, a full-time jazz radio station along with several college stations, and regular, astute coverage by local print dailies and weeklies.

For the past 18 years the city has presented the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival offering a cross-section of the city’s talents with name artists brought in from other parts of Canada, the U.S. and around the world. There was trepidation this time around though, because Canada recently enacted laws that resulted in a major tobacco firm withdrawing sponsorship from a number of Canadian festivals. Fortunately, TD Canada Trust and other corporate sponsors stepped up this year enabling the Festival to present more than 150 shows over 10 days on the two festival stages and in concert halls, clubs, museums and theaters all over town. In addition, without tobacco sponsorship the festival is now able to have a youth stage with free performances, which makes the festival family friendly.

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