The TD Toronto Jazz Fest has announced its lineup for the 35th edition of its storied festival, which will be held in downtown Toronto from June 24 – July 3, 2022. Headliners include Gregory Porter, Cory Henry, and GoGo Penguin, as well as “jazz-related” artists such as Smokey Robinson, Kamaal Williams, DijahSB, Amber Mark and TOBI. In addition to the free outdoor concerts at the Queen’s Park North TD Main Stage in the Yorkville neighborhood, the festival has added more outdoor stages at nearby Victoria University, on the University of Toronto campus. The festival has put an emphasis on getting local artists and crews back to work, with 90% of the free shows featuring Canadian artists.
Toronto Jazz’s artistic director Josh Grossman says that the festival’s wide range of jazz and music styles is purposeful. “Our programming philosophy is fairly broad,” he explains. “It’s jazz and jazz-related. Jazz-influenced and jazz-influencing is how I like to talk about it. That means that we’re not going to please all of the people all of the time. It comes with the territory. But if people take the time to dig through the lineup, they will find all kinds of amazing jazz artists. With straight-ahead or mainstream or whatever you want to call it, they’ll find it in our lineup. But there’s all kinds of reasons to have an artist like Smokey Robinson be front and center because of different expenses and risks associated with that kind of concert. We need to make sure we sell the most tickets to that concert.”
Grossman is proud of how much of the festival features Canadian artists. “With our free concerts, a good majority of our lineup is always featuring local artists,” he says. “This year, one of the consequences of COVID is that we’re still not sure we understand the confidence of our audience in terms of going into an indoor venue and buying tickets. Especially for a certain demographic. And that is consistent with other presenters we’ve spoken to in the city. But the flip side of that is there is an incredible opportunity to re-up our commitment to the local and Canadian artists and really show off the incredible talent we have here at home and across the country. It’s a nice way of dealing with a bit of a challenging situation. There’s just lots and lots of amazing artists right here at home. It’s nice to be able to showcase them and, frankly, put some money into their pockets after these past couple of years.” Among the Canadian artists appearing at the festival are Nick Fraser, Robert Occhipinti, Amanda Tosoff, John MacLeod, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Ernesto Cervini, Kellylee Evans, and many others.
Grossman says that presenting so much of the music in free concerts enables the festival to reach new audiences. “We’re aiming to make the festival more accessible and that’s reflected in the breadth of the programming. We want to reflect jazz music as an art form [that’s] incredibly diverse. And we wanted to make our free programming a little more robust so we’ve put more of an investment into our free programming. Some of those international artists that might have gone into a club or a ticketed context, we’re giving away for free, and that just gives a different opportunity to connect with current audiences as well as new audiences. So when we’re able to present Cory Henry or Kamaal Williams in free concerts, we’re reaching more contemporary jazz audiences who are probably younger.”
For more information about this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival, visit the festival’s website.