After a bustling summer calendar of jazz that saw the return to life of festivals across the country, the fall concert schedule pushes ahead in the clubs and soft-seat venues. That said, there’s one annual extravaganza left to go.
Founded in 2016, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival is as much a sign of autumn in Toronto as pumpkin spice lattes and the return of professional hockey’s most reliable heartbreakers, the Maple Leafs. The grassroots event takes place in a heritage neighbourhood over two days (Oct. 1-2), with indoor and outdoor performances at various (cash-only) price points. Highlights include singer-songwriter Barbra Lica, who launches her new pop-minded EP Imposter Syndrome with a club set (Oct. 2).
Led by Wynton Marsalis, the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra plays Toronto’s Massey Hall (Oct. 6). If questioned by Canadian border guards, the New York-based Marsalis should declare nothing but an undying enthusiasm for arranging works by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and other masters and composing original works in the same tradition. On the same night, north of the city, the changeable Grammy-winning vocalist Kurt Elling will have guitarist Charlie Hunter alongside him at Flato Markham Theatre in Markham, Ont.
At Frankie’s Jazz Club in Vancouver, the Juno-winning tenor saxophonist Phil Dwyer will recognize the potent rhythm section of bassist Tom Wakeling and drummer Alan Jones. The hard-swinging three of them will take part in a Bridge Quartet reunion with guest pianist Miles Black (Oct. 7 and 8).
The meaning of a “kid in a candy store” can be literal or metaphorical, or both simultaneously. One day in Detroit in the 1950s, an adolescent Charles McPherson was looking for candy at a local establishment but found a jukebox there as well. “I saw Charlie Parker, and I was like ‘Oh! Let me put my money in and hear this guy!’ ” A performance by the Charles McPherson Quartet at Bourgie Hall in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will reflect the distinguished, all-grown-up saxophonist’s sweet tooth for blues, bebop and the Bird (Oct. 27).
Audiences this summer witnessed the playlist preferences of the American pop-jazz star Chris Botti, who gave trumpet treatments to songs such as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, while tackling Miles Davis’s Blue in Green, too. Botti’s name will be on the marquee at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall (Nov. 3).
If the cross-country tour by Michael Kaeshammer doesn’t include a visit to your community, the only reasonable explanation for the snub is that someone in your town must have really annoyed him the last time he was there. The Canadian boogie-woogie pianist seems to be playing everywhere else this fall, from Pictou, N.S., to Moncton to Ottawa to Parry Sound, Ont., to Winnipeg to West Vancouver (Nov. 9 to Dec. 11).
One of 2021′s most intriguing music books was Marc Ribot’s Unstrung: Rants and Stories of a Noise Guitarist. “My relation with the guitar is one of struggle,” wrote the American whose gnarly, avant-garde playing can be found on recordings by Tom Waits, Diana Krall, John Zorn and a roster of other A-listers. “I’m constantly forcing it to be something else: a saxophone, a scream, a cart rolling down a hill.” On his latest album, Hope, Ribot sounds ornery, which, in his musical language, does indeed translate to something approaching hope. He appears at Toronto’s Glen Rhodes United Church (Nov. 4) and Montreal’s Bourgie Hall (Nov. 17).
The calendar at Toronto’s Koerner Hall never seems to have many blank spaces. Jazz fans have options with the pending arrival of Prestige Records’ young star singer Jazzmeia Horn (Nov. 5), Ravi Coltrane’s Cosmic Music: A Contemporary Exploration into the Music of John and Alice Coltrane (Nov. 12) and the Tigran Hamasyan Trio (Nov. 18). Hamasyan, whose approach to the piano is influenced by Armenian folk traditions, also plays Ottawa’s National Arts Centre (Nov. 19).
As a former jingles writer, the flamboyant Japanese pianist Hiromi is devoted to melody in whichever jazz sub-genre she chooses to explore. She recorded last year’s quarantine-influenced Silver Lining Suite, for instance, with a string quartet. Her solo appearance at George Weston Recital Hall at Toronto’s Meridian Arts Centre has been delayed for quite some time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Expect celebration, high energy and visual pizzazz (Nov. 10).