The Seventeenth Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival

 

Toronto, Canada

The Beaches, a trendy enclave situated in Toronto, Canada are a place to be seen, as well as heard and organizers of The Seventeenth Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival should take a bow for their continued support of the genre.  This spectacular 7 day, free event offered “Phat Fun” at the PartiGras (in The Distillery District), plus the ever-popular StreetFest (one of the original events).  Boasting 40 + jazz acts, several city blocks were closed and the spirit of the festival spilled over from the Mainstage at Kew Gardens which featured the main acts.  Literally just rolling into town, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect because I was lucky enough to catch a set by the phenomenal Smooth Jazz guitarist, Steve Oliver.  He warmed everyone with a personable rapport and as the sun shone he heated things up with his signature guitar/vocal stylings.  Performing a flamenco number he only does ‘live’ prompted some to dance and even one enthusiastic fan to shout, “Midi Power!”  Judging from everyone’s response, this one needs to be recorded.  The party continued as he played a song a cappella and “always improvised” and this impromptu composition was an extraordinary demonstration of his talent.  Oliver further endeared himself to this Canadian crowd with some Neil Young music, and roused them with his funky High Noon (which has had a ton of radio airplay)Selections from his latest CD 3D were very well-received and included the captivating numbers Magic World, Chips and Salsa and the timely Imagine.  Oliver’s first trip to Toronto garnered a well-deserved standing ovation.  Both artist/audience alike were thrilled!

The Seventeenth Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival had it all from jazz, Latin, Samba, R&B to vocalists.  It’s estimated that over 900,000 jazz lovers sampled the fare and having had a taste, I want more!  So until next year, I’ll get my fill at

Website: www.beachesjazz.com

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-D.J. Fazio