Those of you who have followed the development of the festival over the past few years may have noticed two threads connecting each iteration to the other. The first might be the Jazz Connection Big Band, who opened the very fist Steel City Jazz Festival with an amazing performance at the Hamilton waterfront back-dropped by a gorgeous August sunset. They have played every festival since then, and this year is no different: they perform at the Pearl Company on Friday, November 4th. Their performances are always a festival highlight and always pack a punch; no matter how many times I see them they never fail to have a few surprises in store. As an extra incentive to join us on the fourth (as if that’s necessary), they’re joined this year by vocalist Aubrey Wilson.
Another thread would be the inclusion of musicians from Mohawk College. Honestly the connections between Steel City Jazz Festival performers and Mohawk are are so numerous that I don’t have a chance of going through them all here, but for starters our 2016 Smordin Law Artist-in-Residence, Mike Malone, taught at Mohawk College for 25 years; last year’s Artist-in-Residence, Adrean Farrugia, was a student of Mike’s at Mohawk! It’s always a pleasure for me to present not only graduates or faculty members from the Mohawk music program but current students, and so I’m very pleased that to close out this year’s festival on November 5th we’ll be featuring The Scenics, a group of graduating Mohawk students playing music from the Great American Songbook. The Scenics are Stephanie Sloss, Aoife Doyle, Summer Mortimer, Chanille Blair, Leah Korkowski, Chris Power and Alyssa Giammaria singing, backed up by Ian Brown, Keegan Larose, Nigel Stewart, Zakk Benn in the band.
I’m happy these two performances ended up falling on the closing weekend of the festival, since I think they represent two goals that we try to hold closely to: just like in jazz music, we always want to be looking forward while remembering where we came from. The 2016 Steel City Jazz Festival is just a few days away now, and I hope you will join us for another year of celebrating the Hamilton jazz community!
The Jazz Connection Big Band perform November 4th and The Scenics perform November 5th, both shows at the Pearl Company starting at 8pm (16 Steven St). Online tickets are available now.