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New Century, Same Genius: Ornette Coleman at JVC

The creative arts scene of Toronto just added a new color to its vibrant pallet with the May inauguration of the Art of Jazz Celebration. Solidly based in jazz education, Art of Jazz was founded by Toronto’s jazz emissaries, saxophonist Jane Bunnett and trumpeter Larry Cramer, along with Bonnie Lester and Howard Rees. Part of the event’s charm-not a festival, a celebration-was its historic venue. The Distillery is a lakefront complex dating back to 1832 which ceased alcohol production in 1990. The Distillery Historic District opened in May 2003 as a pedestrian-only village dedicated to arts and culture-the largest restoration project in Canada. The vast, gentrified warren of brick buildings hosted the Art of Jazz Celebration in the district’s newest jewel, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, and the cavernous old Fermenting Room.

The festivities, with clinics by masters Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Sheila Jordan and others at its educational center, included a stellar matinee duo series spanning its four days, an Afro-Cuban Jazz and Dance Party, and the debut of the multi-composer/omnidirectional Art of Jazz Orchestra. At its core were tribute evenings, this time to Barry Harris and one of Canada’s heavyweight jazz champs, multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson (pictured).

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