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Review of TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival

June 25-July 4, 2010

Mikko Innanen and Innkvisitio performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Christy Doran performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Han Bennink performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Chick Corea performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Evan Parker performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Peter Evans performing with MOPDK at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Susanna and the Magic Orchestra performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Han Bennink performing at 2010 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival

There are dozens of jazz festivals across Canada, each with its own identity. Some, like Montreal, are big budget parties attracting jazz tourists from all over the world. Others, such as Guelph and Victoriaville, draw hard-core audiences from academic or noise-oriented circles. But what separates the Vancouver International Jazz Festival from the others is its savvy balance of mainstream, crossover and avant sensibilities. During the week before and after Canada Day, Vancouver’s non-profit Coastal Jazz & Blues Society launched its 25th annual summer jazz festival with another mash-up of creative programming and surprises.

The 1,800-seat Centre For Performing Arts was filled on the festival’s opening night for a double bill of pianists Bill Charlap with Renee Rosnes, and the promising new group James Farm. Rosnes (who grew up in North Vancouver) and Charlap reprised the piano duets from their recent Blue Note release Double Portrait, though their live performance was more engaging than the cd, mostly for the opportunity to see who was playing what. They faced each other across two grand pianos, Rosnes on the left, Charlap on the right, and immediately launched into Frank Loesser’s “Never Will I Marry” (a tongue-in-cheek choice for this couple who married less than 3 years ago). Their four-hand dialog was more conversational than competitive, and a reminder that intensity has nothing to do with volume or tempo. On Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” Rosnes tended to improvise on the harmony, while Charlap concentrated on spinning horn-like melodic variations, but they often switched roles throughout the evening. The emotional highlight of their hour-long performance came during an intuitive and achingly beautiful “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy & Bess.

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