Saskatchewan Jazz Festival 2016 Review & Photos

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Unfortunately life got in the way of attending the volume of Jazz Fest shows we usually attend. Patricia Barber and Oliver Jones, word is, were great. In fact, a lot of things were great. That’s how these things go, right?

But after viewing Metric’s electric opening weekend performance, featuring a wowed crowd, indie pop anthems and Emily Haines’ reflective ballads, it was a nice reminder that summer is here, jazzy lemonade is here, so let’s all get back out and dance.

New Orleans piano player Jon Cleary played second to the Bessborough Gardens on Thursday, June 30. His funky/R&B piano playing was more than enough to get the crowd dancing, but it was his killer voice that ultimately won the crowd over. Wowzers! Also, his drummer A.J. Hall, doesn’t look quite old enough to be that good at drums. Then again, let’s not confused age with talent.

Also in the Gardens that Thursday was Toronto’s Downchild Blues Band. When I ran into my parents at the show, my old man informed me that the first time he saw them play was over forty years ago. Clearly they have been doing something right if they have been together for this many years. Let’s hope they have a sell-out show next time they are around.

The James Hotel lobby/lounge may be one of the smallest venues Saskatoon has to offer, though it really doesn’t matter when you’re watching a young trio as talented as In With The Old. These kids are a treat.

The one show that should have been on everyone’s radar was the Jazz Jam at The Bassment hosted by the Outer Bridge Ensemble. It’s a collective of extremely talented jazz musicians/educators/awesome people from all around. When they’re back here next year: Go.

Metric at the 2016 Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
Metric’s Emily Haines rocking Jazz Fest

Canada Day started out looking like it would be one heck of a rainy day. Fortunately that didn’t stop groups like Saskatoon’s reggae group Oral Fuentes from drawing a decent crowd to the free stage. It ended up being a great day outside!

Following Big Boi, up and coming locals Bombargo and Silent Sea made their Jazz Fest debuts opening things at The Capitol and Amigos, respectively.

Daniel Caesar made his presence known as he kicked things off on the last night of the festival. While some of the songs sounded a little bit similar, the young Toronto based singer is touted by Drake fans as being the next big thing. Don’t get us wrong, he probably has what it takes; his backup band is made up of some talented and hardworking musicians that’ll help take him to the next level. You’ll be hearing this guy’s name a lot.

Speaking of household names: Who doesn’t love Dallas Green? The City and Colour frontman spent three days taking in the sights and sounds of Saskatoon. All of the rumours are, that he’s one of the most genuine, down to earth people around. Despite playing some of the fan favourites, including Saskatoon’s anthem Comin’ Home, the set seemed a little bit rushed; likely due to the mega storm that swooped in to close off the night.

Another year well done Jazz Fest team, but before we close off…

Arguably one of the best shows during this year’s Jazz Fest wasn’t actually a show put on by the festival. Free jazz at its finest, The Thing (from Norway) featuring saxophonist Mats Gustafsson played to a decent sized crowd at Vangelis. With a good portion of the crowd being fans of Saskatoon’s burgeoning lo-fi scene, it’s kind of sad that few of them came out to any of the true jazz shows put on by the festival.

Last words: Please bring The Thing back soon (or Colin Stetson if you’re looking for someone to bridge the gap).