Toronto Jazz Festival 2014 Best Bets

We break down the top 10 must-see shows.

Roy Hargrove in Toronto, 2007. Photo by Tracey Nolan.

  • June 19–28
  • Various

On June 19, the Toronto Jazz Festival will once again descend upon Nathan Phillips Square and clubs and concert halls all over the city. Friday night will feature a free concert at Nathan Phillips Square, presented in partnership with WorldPride, with sets by Melissa Etheridge and Deborah Cox. There will also be a huge fireworks display and the raising of the rainbow flag—it’s bound to be a real party. There are lots of big names at the fest this year, including Chaka Kahn, Bobby McFerrin, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Here’s our rundown of some of the other shows worth checking out.

Gregory Porter

When: Friday, June 20, 8 p.m.
Where: Jane Mallett Theatre (27 Front Street East)

The 2014 Grammy­ winner for best vocal jazz album, Gregory Porter is a jazz superstar with vast crossover appeal and an undeniably gorgeous voice.

Mike Downes With Ted Quinlan

When: Saturday, June 21, 8 p.m.
Where: Mezzetta (681 St. Clair Avenue West)

Catch Downes fresh off his Juno win for his new recording, Ripple Effect, with Ted Quinlan on guitar.

Gerald Clayton

When: Monday, June 23, 8 p.m.
Where: Jazz Bistro (251 Victoria Street)

The next generation of a great jazz family, Clayton is making his own way with recordings, Grammy nominations, and now his take on solo piano music, infused with both his jazz roots and his training as a classical pianist.

Snarky Puppy

When: Monday, June 23, 10 p.m.
Where: Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West)

Brooklyn’s ambassadors of fusion, the band features a collective of nearly 40 musicians, referred to as “The Fam” on their recordings and tours. This one will be standing room only, for sure—which is fine, because you’re going to want to dance.

Canadian Jazz Quartet With Harry Allen

When: Tuesday, June 24, 5 p.m.
Where: Kama on King (214 King Street West)

Some of the greatest straight-ahead jazz in town from local favourites Frank Wright on vibes and Don Vickery on drums, with a special guest from New York, saxophonist Harry Allen.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band / Lettuce

When: Wednesday, June 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Nathan Phillips Square

An iconic New Orleans brass band, followed by feel-good tunes from Lettuce? Yes, please. This is some funky stuff, Toronto. Get your DeMar DeRozan stank face ready.

Dave Holland Electric Quartet: Prism

When: Thursday, June 26, 8 p.m.
Where: Nathan Phillips Square

The acclaimed bassist Dave Holland has assembled a group of killer players and composers who are also leaders in their own right—Kevin Eubanks (of Tonight Show With Jay Leno fame) on guitar, Craig Taborn on piano and Fender Rhodes, and the great Eric Harland on drums.

The Roy Hargrove Quintet

When: Friday, June 27, 8 p.m.
Where: Jane Mallett Theatre (27 Front Street East)

Texas raised, New York–based trumpeter Roy Hargrove has been a leading voice in the jazz music scene for more than 20 years. Toronto’s been fortunate to have had him as a regular performer on our stages for just as long. His music is influenced by funk, gospel, and straight-ahead jazz, and is always a joy to experience.

Oliver Jones Trio

When: Saturday, June 28, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Where: Jazz Bistro (251 Victoria Street)

Beautiful, swinging jazz from one of the best. Besides, Canada Post put him on a stamp. Do you really need to know more?

Archie Alleyne and Friends

When: Saturday, June 28, 9 p.m.
Where: The Paintbox Bistro (555 Dundas Street East)

Legendary jazz drummer, activist, and recipient of the Order of Canada, Archie Alleyne is retiring from the stage after more than 60 years of performing. This will be his last public show, and he’ll be joined onstage by many of his musical friends, including Jackie Richardson.

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