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Lethbridge gets jazzed for fifth annual Lethbridge Jazz Festival

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 The Lethbridge Jazz Festival has something for everyone this year including lots of horns, Afro-Cuban jazz and a whole lot of blues.

“There’s going to be quite outstanding performances over every stage all the time,” said Don Robb, one of the festival’s organizers.

  There will be a variety of performances all over the downtown, June 9-13. LocalDon Robb welcomes everyone to come to the Lethbridge Jazz Festival, June 10-13. Photo by Richard Amery performers will be on stage and performing in various restaurants for the Suppertime jazz program as well as a nightcaps program.
 There will be free performances in Festival square (6thStreet and 3rd Avenue) and a whole lot of fun. If you want to brush up on your improvisational chops, jazz saxophone member Pat Belliveau  will be offering a special free workshop at CASA at 1 p.m., June 13.

 The festival opened June 9 with a jazz jam at the Slice with James Oldenburg, Brad Brouwer and Paul Holden.
 But the festival really starts, June 10 with the Sweet Inspiration Gospel concert at Southminster United Church featuring the Soujourners’ Marcus Moseley conducting.

 In addition to a lot of different shows, Robb said there are a lot of different activities this year including a photo display of Donna Kroeger’s photos from past Lethbridge Jazz Festivals, which will be on display at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.
He is also excited about some of the outdoor  concerts.

“The Young Lions will be at Festival square on June 12 and there will be Jazz on the Square, June 13,” he said, noting they will be moved to the Gate right next door if it rains.

“It will be a great place for people and families to gather,” he said.
 A different event this year will be the battle of the big bands, June 11 which will be part of the Jazz Society honours at Lethbridge Lodge. It features the Lethbridge Big Band and special guests, Calgary based Wednesday Night Big Band, who will be facing off and seeing who gets you dancing the most.

 Several performers have never been to Lethbridge before.
“I’ve never been to Lethbridge before. But my saxophonist Vern Dorge (who has performed at the festival a couple of times) says great things about it. They have a really great line up. It’s really diverse,” observed Toronto born, Los Angeles based Juno nominated vocalist / pianist  Carol Welsman.

 She will be playing the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, June 12 as a trio with bassist Hussain Jiffry who usually plays with Herb Alpert. She will also be joined by drummer Ignacio Berroa, who has his own concert — the Afro Cuban and Beyond concert with Hilario Durán at the Yates Theatre, June 13.


 While she has a new more traditional jazz album coming out at the end of the month featuring some of New York’s best  players, she will be focusing on her past work including  her Juno nominated CD “Journey” as well as crowd favourites like her Peggy Lee tribute album “I Like Men.”

 She explores a variety  of styles of jazz music including jazzifying ’80s hits and old country hits as well as a lot of Brazilian music.
“I don’t want to alienate my fans, so there really is something for everyone. I tell people I play jazz with a spoonful of sugar,” she said.

“I wasn’t born in the ’40s in the early days of Miles Davis. I grew up being influenced by a lot of ’70s and ’80s pop music. But I love Brazilian music. That just seems to come naturally to me and people are really addicted to Bossa Nova music,” she said.
 Her show is  at 7:30 p.m., at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, June 12. Tickets cost $25.

Calgary based “horn band” Bluesland and the Cold Sweat Horns also don’t like to be constricted by labels, but the hearts of the nine piece belong strongly in New Orleans which inspired their most recent CD.
“The first time I played down south was in the 1970s and I was taken by the mixture of music down there. On one corner you’d have a guy singing gospel, on the other corner you’d have straight ahead jazz and then you’d have a guy playing blues,” said Bluesland and the Cold Sweat Horns band leader, guitarist Terry Medd. Bluesland not only plays  the free Jazz on the Square show, June 12  with Mwansa Mwansa, the Heavyweights Blues band and the Calgary  Jazz Orchestra, but they also play their own show at the Slice, June 13.
“ We’ve been calling ourselves a horn band. We play jazz, blues, but we also play some funk,” Medd said.
 “We may get in trouble with the blues police or we may get in trouble with the jazz police because we span all of those genres,” he said.
“ Some people think if it isn’t an old black guy playing a dobro, then it isn’t the blues.
 But in the early days the blues and jazz were pretty closely connected,” he said.
Their show is at 9:30 p.m., June 13. Tickets cost $20.

 For more traditional blues, Edmonton/ Calgary based musician and scholar Kat Danser may be your answer. She plays the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 13 at 9:30 p.m.
 Danser, a PHd student at  the University of Alberta has spent a lot of time exploring the deep south connecting the roots of jazz and blues music.
“ I’m super excited to play this festival,” said Danser. It’s diverse. It’s open to a lot of different styles,” she  observed. She will be accompanied by upright bassist Chris Brzezicki and guitarist Jimmy Guiboche.
“They are my go to guys for the past 10 years,” she said.
“We usually play roots and blues music, so it’s nice to be able to  do this,” she added.
“It’s been a long time since I played Lethbridge.”
 Kat Danser plays the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 13 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20.

 Chris Butcher, trombonist for Toronto based New Orleans style jazz band The Heavyweights Blues band is excited to see Hilario Duran and Ignacio Berroa with the Calgary Jazz Orchestra, Saturday, June 13 at the Yates.
“ I know Hilario very well. We’ve collaborated a lot. He was my first employer,” he said adding while the band  may have to be on the road during that show, he hopes to connect with Durán for an impromptu jam.
“ We’re playing  Friday night (June 12) at the Slice and in the afternoon on June 13, so I hope our paths cross,” he said.
 They kick off a busy month of playing jazz festivals across Canada with the Lethbridge show.
“We’re playing every major jazz festival in the country this month. Except our hometown festival in Toronto because we’ll be on the road,”  Butcher enthused, adding they will be back in Toronto to play shows at all three major venues at the Pan Am Games, July 11-13.
 The complete Lethbridge  Jazz Festival schedule can be found at

  A version of this story appears in the June 10, 2015 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— By Richard Amery, L. A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 June 2015 09:57 )  
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