A Downtown Neighbourhood Jazz Festival in Toronto Finds its Feet and Debuts in Style

Jackie Richardson.jpg

Submitted Courtesy of Richard Flohill
Photo at right: Jackie Richardson

Packed houses, enthusiastic crowds, a buzzing neighbourhood: the inaugural Kensington Market Jazz Festival debuted in style on September 16, 17, 18.

More than 200 Toronto musicians played 80 shows at nine venues across Kensington Market during TIFF's closing weekend and during the Toronto Urban Roots Festival.

Ivana SantilliIvana SantilliDespite other attractions, the new and highly focused festival captivated, engaged and involved audiences throughout the weekend.

The hub of piano talent, iconic Baldwin Street suit store Tom's Place, was packed for performances by Gene DiNovi, Joe Sealy, Andrew Craig and Robi Botos, who performed on an acoustic Yamaha grand piano.

On closing night at The Boat, Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana celebrated 25 years since their historic 1991 debut recording.Friday and Saturday's fundraisers at the Handlebar featured nearly two dozen of Canada's greatest voices from Jim Cuddy and Billy Newton-Davis to Ivana Santilli and Alana Bridgewater; donations at the Handlebar amounted to nearly $5,000 for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. Also on closing night, Joe Sealy and Jackie Richardson had the Poetry Jazz Cafe bubbling with a sultry set that hooked everybody in the house. Which is saying a lot, considering the wide ranging age demographic in attendance.

The Kensington Market Jazz Festival is the brainchild of Canadian luminary singer, songwriter, broadcaster and philanthropist Molly Johnson, who spent most of her life as a resident of Kensington Market. Johnson teamed up with Ori Dagan and Genevieve Marentette to bring the festival to life, with the support of Tom Mihalik, Yamaha Canada and the Kensington Market BIA.

Alana BridgewaterAlana BridgewaterThe Kensington Market Jazz Festival team — dubbedOMG(Ori Molly Gigi)— would like to thank all our partners, volunteers, venues, musicians, the media and the audiences for creating such a magical weekend.

We look forward to making more music happen in Kensington Market. Stay tuned!