Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Review: Guelph Jazz Festival, Ontario, September 4-28, 2013

Canadian event celebrates its 20th in high and heady style

Matt Brubeck, Guelph Jazz Festival 2013
Nicole Mitchell, Guelph Jazz Festival 2013
Hamid Drake, Guelph Jazz Festival 2013
Wadada Leon Smith, Guelph Jazz Festival 2013
Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis at the Guelph Jazz Festival 2013

Having ventured to, and had great appreciation for the Guelph Jazz Festival, I’m by now used to the strange drill involved in the arrival plan. Upon landing at the Toronto airport (about an hour’s drive from the University town of Guelph), people-including customs officers-ask, “Are you here for the festival?,” which would strike any an avant-garde-leaning jazz festival seeker as odd. Of course, they’re talking about TIFF, the renowned and influential Toronto International Film Festival, which begins on the same weekend as Guelph. Responses when I tell them of my destination and mission range from, “Where’s Guelph?” to “Guelph has a jazz festival?”

Well, yes, Guelph does have a jazz festival, a very fine and hearty one, and as it celebrated its big 20th birthday this September, in suitably high and heady style. This year, the thought occurred to me that the Guelph Jazz Festival may be roughly as significant in its own much tinier cultural domain-where left-end, free improvisational and otherwise experimental energies of jazz and related musics thrive-as the lofty TIFF is to the world’s film festival circuit. Just a theory, which is slightly compromised by the inconvenient truth that the Guelph fest, while known by many, is still less well-known than it should be, as a prime spot for adventurous music in North America.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published