Kodi Hutchinson’s friend was hiking in Tibet recently when she heard something unexpected.
“She heard jazz violin coming out of a yurt or something,” says Hutchinson, artistic producer of JazzYYC and the Canadian Jazz Festival. “It was some Chinese kid who was really into Stephane Grappelli. People love music and the thing about jazz is that it’s all about improvisation. You can bring any culture into improvisation. That’s when the flavours get so exciting and broad.”
The Canadian Jazz Festival runs from Nov. 8 to 11 at various venues in Calgary. This idea of jazz having no borders is a nice primer for the festival, which this year includes crossover acts, traditional jazz and one project that celebrates Canada’s Indigenous cultures.
We asked Hutchinson about these five performers:
Harry Vetro’s Northern Ranger, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. at Ironwood Stage and Grill
Hutchinson calls Harry Vetro’s Northern Ranger performance “one of the most unique shows we’ve ever presented.” Led by Toronto drummer and composer Harry Vetro, this sextet’s self-titled debut album was inspired by Vetro’s travels to the six Indigenous cultural areas of Canada, including the Arctic, Western Subarctic, Pacific Coast, Plateau, Plains and the Subarctic/Eastern Woodlands. While the music is based on traditional jazz, Vetro played with musicians representing different genres while soaking up Indigenous traditions in all six of the regions.
“When we heard about (it), it just seemed like a really cool musical project,” Hutchinson says. “But he and his band, who are some of the top players in Canada, are very dedicated to bringing jazz to different communities and really trying to expand the art form.”
Montreal Guitare Trio. Nov. 9, 8 p.m. at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre
Canada’s “hottest” guitar ensemble, at least according to the CBC, the Montreal Guitare Trio mix classical music with jazz, world music and even prog-rock, making them an intriguing choice for a jazz festival.
“Their general background in classical guitar, but they are doing jazz tunes, pop tunes — a whole gamut of music,” says Hutchinson. “It’s a new thing for us to add to the festival. If you’re wanting to dip your toe in the jazz world, this would be a good way to do it because you are going to experience jazz, classical and pop all encapsulated into one.”
Rachel Therrien. Nov. 9, 7 p.m. at the Ironwood Stage & Grill
Another Quebec native, Rachel Therrien is a New York-based, world-renowned trumpeter who will be leading a five-piece instrumental ensemble. Therrien, who is also a member of the all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra, will also be hosting a workshop on trumpet and the business side of the music business on Nov. 8 at noon at Long & McQuade.
“She is intense — musically and personally — she lives her life full-on,” says Hutchinson. “It’s really energetic music. It’s going to have a bit more of a rock flare to it this year. She reinvents herself musically for each project. This one has an edgier rock feel to the music.”
Allison Lynch, Nov. 10, 9 p.m. at Lolita’s Lounge
An intimate evening with singer, actress and composer Allison Lynch, who Hutchinson refers to as one of the city’s hidden gems. Calgarians may recognize Lynch for her work on stage, particularly with Theatre Calgary, but she is also an accomplished singer and jazz composer who balances the traditional and modern.
“A lot of people don’t realize that her dad is a jazz musician so she has grown up with it,” Hutchinson says. “She has a beautiful voice. She will be playing with her group at Lolita’s on Saturday night. It’s a very intimate club, it holds about 75 people jam-packed.”
Barbra Lica, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Ironwood Stage & Grill
Toronto singer Barbra Lica is considered one of the most promising new voices in Canadian jazz, picking up a Juno nod for her 2016 release I’m Still Learning. Still in her 20s, Lica sings straight jazz but also gives a jazzy swing to modern pop songs.
“Because she’s younger, there’s going to be more backbeats and swing in her repertoire,” says Hutchinson. “Anyone who has seen her can tell you she is delightful. She is a great personality, she is a lot of fun and musically she is excellent at what she does.”
The Canadian Jazz Festival runs from Nov. 8 to 11 in various venues. Visit jazzyyc.com
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