School starts tomorrow, so even though summer technically has a few weeks left to go I know I’m not alone in thinking that fall is more or less here. I love the heat, but fall has its own charms to look forward to. I hope that for some of you the 4th Annual Steel City Jazz Festival, running October 26th to November 5th, will be one of those charms!
The jazz community in Hamilton continues to grow and produce fabulous musicians playing vital music. Zyla’s on James St N has become a welcome addition to the scene alongside Hamilton jazz stalwarts like the Cat n’ Fiddle, Artword Artbar and the Corktown Pub. Jazz at the Gasworks have continued bringing world-class talent to Hamilton on a regular basis, and last December we were even treated to a holiday performance by arguably one of the best jazz bands on the planet, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis. It’s been a good year!
With three festivals on the books and the fourth coming up quick, I’m grateful to find so much inspiration and motivation from the rest of the community. In particular though, I am consistently amazed by concerts put on by Zula Presents and their Something Else! Festival of Creative Music (which took place earlier this summer) and Creative Music Series (last fall). Zula Presents focus on music that’s often part of the jazz tradition but falls farther on the avant-garde or ‘outside’ part of the spectrum. They have brought musicians to Hamilton from all over the world (San Francisco, Oslo, Amsterdam, just to name a few from this year’s festival), including some of the biggest names on the scene. So I’m thrilled to say that to open this year’s festival we will be co-presenting a concert with Zula Presents at Artword Artbar: Andrew Downing’s Otterville, on October 26th!
I’m really excited for this show, not least of all because we get to feature another vibraphonist (Michael Davidson). The name ‘Otterville’ is inspired by a small Ontario town and so is the music: it’s sweet, quiet, nostalgic and joyful. Take a listen for yourself to the video above, taken last year at a show at Waterloo’s Jazz Room. The band features Tara Davidson on saxophone, Michael Davidson on vibraphone, Paul Mathew on bass, Nick Fraser on drums and Andrew Downing on cello. It’s music that’s within a straight-ahead jazz tradition, but with enough of a twist to appeal to the more adventurous-minded listener. Kind of like taking road trip through Ontario, you’re bound to find both the familiar and the unexpected in this music. It’s a perfect pairing for the Steel City Jazz Festival and Zula Presents, and I’m thrilled to be working with them!
There’s so much more to tell you about this year’s festival: our artist-in-residence, this year’s poster design, a second exciting partnership, a jazz education series and of course all kinds of talented musicians. To make it easier for you to stay in touch, we’re starting a mailing list, which you can sign up for by clicking here. We’ll be sending out show announcements and other festival details (sparingly) leading up to the festival, and an occasional update throughout the year to let you know how festival planning is progressing or about other great jazz events in Hamilton. If you’re interested, please sign up!