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The must-see season: A guide to summer's hottest cultural events Add to ...

Vancouver Early Music Festival, Vancouver

July 29-Aug. 17

This six-concert series cuts a large swath through early-modern and baroque music, with a program of madrigals by Gesualdo and Sweelinck (featuring the Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam), a Gabrieli Vespers (performed by Les Voix Baroque and La Rose des Vents), and a complete concert performance of Handel’s opera Orlando (Pacific Baroque Orchestra, with countertenor Tim Mead in the title role). There’s also a concert of rare 17th-century Italian solo cantatas (featuring bass Harry van der Kamp) and the Canadian debut of U.S. ensemble Quicksilver ( earlymusic.bc.ca).


By J.D. Considine

The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman

Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto

June 24

Last summer, the Bad Plus offered one of the most invigorating sets of the Toronto Jazz Festival, neatly balancing the classically schooled precision of Ethan Iverson’s piano against the sometimes funky, always driving rhythm work of bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King. That they’re returning should be no surprise; the big news is that they’ll be doing so in the company of tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman. No word on what the quartet will play, but Redman’s recent work with James Farm suggests spectacular results. Special added bonus: Opening will be keyboard whiz Hiromi’s chop-heavy Trio Project, with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips ( torontojazz.com).

Phil Dwyer: A Canadian Songbook featuring Laila Biali

June 21, Confederation Park, Ottawa; June 24, Georgia Stage, Robson Square, Vancouver; June 25, Yardbird Suite, Edmonton; June 26, Alix Goolden Performance Hall, Victoria; June 27, Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto.

Songwriting has always been the strength of Canadian popular music, and great songs have provided fuel for improvisation since the beginning of jazz, so why shouldn’t Undun or The Tower of Song work as jazz standards? That was the idea behind saxophonist, pianist and arranger Phil Dwyer’s Canadian Songbook, which debuted at last year’s Vancouver Jazz Festival. This year, he’s reassembled the band, expanded the repertoire, and will not only be reprising the show for free at this year’s Vancouver Jazz fest, but will be touring it across Canada. No word if Life Is a Highway will be added to the set list, though ( ottawajazzfestival.com; coastaljazz.ca; edmontonjazz.com; jazzvictoria.ca; torontojazz.com).

Prism with Dave Holland

Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa

June 24

Having bassist Dave Holland as their first artist-in-residence is quite a coup for the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and seeing him perform with three different lineups will be quite the treat for jazz fans. But landing the only North American performance by Prism – the electric band he’s formed with guitarist Kevin Eubanks, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland – is the neatest trick of all. As an alumnus of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew band, Holland played electric jazz at the very beginning, and it should be thrilling to hear where he takes it these days, particularly with the brilliantly inventive Taborn aboard ( ottawajazzfestival.com).

Wayne Shorter Quartet

June 23, Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon; June 24, Francis Winspear Centre, Edmonton; June 26, Vogue Theatre, Vancouver; June 27, Royal Theatre, Victoria; June 29, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Montreal.

A dozen years have passed since Wayne Shorter pulled pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade together to form his current quartet, and somehow the music these four make remains just as startlingly fresh as when they started out. Shorter has been considered one of the most original thinkers in jazz since the mid-sixties, when he played with Miles Davis, but what makes this band hum is the way he has fostered a sense of mutual exploration, allowing his younger band-mates to express their own personalities (and not-inconsiderable virtuosity) to the fullest ( saskjazz.com; edmontonjazz.com; coastaljazz.ca; jazzvictoria.ca; montrealjazzfest.com).

Spectrum Road

June 25, Vogue Theatre, Vancouver; June 27, Sound Academy, Toronto; June 28, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Montreal.

Tony Williams Lifetime may or may not have been the very first jazz rock group, but it certainly was the most influential, if only for bringing guitarist John McLaughlin to the attention of Miles Davis. Cindy Blackman, a Williams acolyte whom rock fans remember as the afro’ed drummer in Lenny Kravitz’s band, conceived of Spectrum Road as a tribute to the Lifetime legacy, and manages to recruit an actual original member of the group, bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce. Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and Medeski/Martin/Wood keyboardist John Medeski, round out the lineup, ensuring that Spectrum Road will be a fusion fan’s dream ( coastaljazz.ca; torontojazz.com; montrealjazzfest.com).

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