Guide to The 2012 Empire Life Kingston Jazz Festival

The Empire Life Kingston Jazz Fest, Porch Jazz, The Grand Theatre, Kingston, OntarioNext weekend is The Empire Life Kingston Jazz Festival from Thursday, June 21st to Saturday, June 23rd.  According to my calculations, this is the twelfth annual jazz fest – as long as I’ve lived in Kingston.  It’s been fascinating watching this festival grow over the years and I think it’s safe to say that this year’s line up is one of the most diverse and impressive.  The Kingston Jazz Society, The Grand Theatre and The Skeleton Park Music Festival have combined forces to bring some of the world’s most accomplished and unique performers to Kingston, and the best part is, you don’t have to choose.  Check out our guide to see who’s coming to town.

Main-Stage – The Grand Theatre

Thursday, June 21st | 7:30pm
Anat Cohen Quartet
An established band leader and prolific composer, Anat Cohen has established herself as one of the primary voices of her generation on both tenor saxophone and clarinet.

Friday, June 22nd | 7:30pm
Sophie Milman
Her 2004 debut album made jazz vocalist Sophie Milman a household name and her 2007 sophomore album Make Someone Happy topped charts and won her a Juno.

Saturday, June 23rd | 7:30
Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints
Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the greatest musicians in jazz history”, Grammy Award winning saxophone giant Joe Lovano will be joined by two-time Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas.

Jazz, Mix & Mingle
Intermission between performances in the Davies Lounge of The Grand Theatre

Friday, June 22nd | 9pm-10pm
The Downtown Trio
This local jazz trio (plus 1) plays a mix of jazz, blues and funk, standards and originals. The band is James Wannamaker on alto, tenor, and soprano sax, Sean Jensen on drums, Sean Fritz on guitar and Noah St. Amand on bass. You can also find them playing every Sunday at The Mansion from 3pm-8pm.

Saturday, June 23rd | 9pm-10pm
Jazz Trio
This local jazz trio consists of Jon “Bunny” Stewart on saxophone, Dave Barton on guitar and Paul Clifford on bass. You can catch these guys playing every other Tuesday at Olivea from 6pm-9pm.

Late Night Jazz at The Baby Grand
Cabaret-style, intimate performances at The Grand Theatre

Friday, June 22nd | 10pm
Jerry Granelli Trio
A veteran of the San Francisco jazz scene, percussionist Jerry Granelli’s recent flourish of recordings has documented remarkable collaborations between the generations.

Saturday, June 23rd | 10pm
This Swiss trio (violin, bass, percussion) combines free improvisation, Baroque music and contemporary composition to create unique performances for audiences around the world.

Porch Jazz

Saturday, June 23rd | 12pm-2:30pm
This series of performances will take place on the porches of the beautiful B&Bs and homes of the Sydenham Ward. Porch jazz is a fun romp through the streets with pit stops for concerts along the way.  What Cheer? Brigade will lead the parade.  Bring an instrument and join in. At each location, local jazz ensembles will play a half-hour set – dance in the streets or bring a lawn chair and relax. Kid and family friendly!

Skeleton Park Music Festival at McBurney Park

Saturday, June 23rd | 3pm
Jerry Granelli Trio
These Late Night Jazz performers will present a short performance and workshop.

Saturday, June 23rd | 4pm
Tanya Tagaq
Tagaq is a contemporary performance artist who practices the ancient traditional Inuit art of throat singing. Tagaq will be accompanied by 3-time June Award winning violinist Jesse Zubot and Jean Martin, named best drummer for the 2004 National Jazz Awards.

Restaurant Jazz

Thursday, June 21st | 4pm-7pm
Le Chien Noir: The Christos Smirnios Trio
Olivea: The Downtown Trio
The Kingston Brew Pub: Rubbaboo
Pasta Shelf (downtown): Mauricio Montecinos

Friday, June 22nd | 4pm-7pm
Le Chien Noir: The Christos Smirnios Trio
Olivea: Paul Clifford Trio
The Kingston Brew Pub: Rubbaboo
Pasta Shelf (downtown): Mauricio Montecinos

Saturday, June 23rd | 4pm-7pm
Olivea: Paul Barton and John Kelly
The Kingston Bew Pub: Rubbaboo
Pasta Shelf (downtown): Mauricio Montecinos

Sunday, June 24th | 11am-2pm
Le Chien Noir: The Christos Smirnios Trio

Single tickets for the Main Stage at The Grand Theatre are $39.  Single tickets for Late Night Jazz at The Baby Grand are $25.  Passes for all 5 shows are $125.  A 3 show pass for the Main Stage is $99.  Porch Jazz, The Skeleton Park Music Festival and Restaurant Jazz are free.

This photo associated with today’s guide is from Kingston Jazz Fest’s site. Head on over there for more information and to purchase single tickets or festival passes.

Danielle Lennon

Danielle Lennon is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. She was the Editor, Community Event Coordinator and Contributor at-large (2008-2018). She is otherwise employed as a section violinist with the Kingston Symphony, violin teacher, studio musician and cat lover. Learn more about Danielle...

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