Bill King & Joey Cee - All That Jazz

Cover July 16, 2010

The Beaches International Jazz Festival has been fashionably Jazz for 22 years!
by Joey Cee

With 22 years under our belt, the Beaches International Jazz Festival has gone from a community day in the park to an international phenomenon. Clearly this music festival has defied the odds and grown into Canada’s leading free Jazz Festival.

Unlike other Jazz Festivals that have cropped up throughout the country, and around the world, the Beaches International Jazz Festival has stayed true to its roots and grown with the times. It’s ongoing success and continued survival is attributed to the hard work of the organizing team headed up by founder and producer Lido Chilelli, artistic director Bill King, the vast array of entertainers, the hundreds of volunteers, the thousands of dedicated visitors and most importantly - our sponsors and government partners. The fact that this festival has grown year after year without charging a cent for admission, is a feat in itself.

My involvement as creative director and associate producer for the past 21 years, has offered me a valuable insight into the workings of dedicated organizations, musicians and city officials who go out of there way each year to plan a successful festival. The logistics are enormous, the costs are challenging but the results are always rewarding – especially when you witness close to a million people converge into the Beach community to create a sea of music lovers along the mile-long Queen Street West stretch during StreetFest over three consecutive nights.

The Beaches Jazz Festival has taken on a life of its own. With very little advertising, it manages to draw visitors from around the world generating millions of dollars for the local economy. starting with a series of weekend concerts at Woodbine Park and ending with the signature concerts at Kew Gardens on the closing weekend. More than two dozen performances on three stages at Woodbine Park kick off the festivities. This park is situated at the far west end of the Beach District at Coxwell and Lakeshore Blvd. Aside from the main stage, a New Generation Stage and the Youth Stage offer up-and-coming young performers a platform to showcase their unique talents. This year, we have added a new Latin Square on the beach boardwalk near the Leuty Lifeguard Station. More than a dozen Latin groups will entertain During the past decade, the festival has expanded into an event spanning two weekends, from July 23 to 25. From July 19 -21 the festival gets interactive with its audiences by presenting a host of free Jazz Workshops and Lectures.
Each year we welcome the world and each year we offer up a world of music for everyone – and all for FREE.
With only three years left before reaching our 25 year milestone, you can expect many more surprises
Joey Cee,
Associate Producer,
Beaches International Jazz Festival

Joey Cee is founder and co/producer of The Chocolate Ball and Editor of Hot Toronto Magazine

It’s year twenty-two for us and we “feel good”, to paraphrase the late James Brown.  It’s that boogie-woogie feeling of anticipation, discovery and hope for good weather.  Yes, it’s a challenge sorting through the numerous applications that pour in and choosing bands that can entertain us on the street or on our outdoor stages.  It’s a different environment playing outdoors.  It takes a special band to cut the distance between stage and audience, overcome distractions and harness energy from the crowds.  But we think we’ve put together a great mix of bands for this season.  It’s still mainly about our local community and the musicians who contribute to its incredible artistic mosaic, however, just like locally based musicians exporting their talent around the globe, we too, are bringing outside talent in.

Here’s a sample of who we have: We caught this brilliant young guitarist / songwriter from out West who just ripped up the stage at the Women’s Blues Review playing slide guitar like the late great Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers.  Rachelle van Zanten is her name and she has a style and effortless delivery that will catch you off guard.  There’s long time Beach resident and world celebrated songwriter/singer Dan Hill making his debut with pianist Joe Sealy’s ensemble.  The Blackburn Brothers are perhaps the finest soul unit in the country.  How about the compelling music of The Griffith Hiltz Trio? The Berklee College All Stars from the prestigious Boston institute. The Rockit 88 Band will be making their performance the debut of their sophomore release ‘Sweet Sugar Cane’.  There’s Jane Bunnett, teaming up with yours truly, Bill King, along with New Orleans’ Johnny Sansone, Madagasscar Slim and the Rockit 88 Band for a set of Afro/Cuban Blues.  Washed away by rain last year, the inimitable Deanna Bogart is back to rock Kew Stage.

KEW Gardens is stepping it up with another New Orleans treat in big demand - Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.  We also caught saxophonist Warren Hill at the Barbados Jazz Festival, where it became apparent Toronto born Hill - who played here a couple times a decade back, was up for a return visit.  Woodbine Park has really happening partnerships on for this year between Toronto’s Jay Douglas and US soul singer Rusty Zinn; fusion jazz with Five After Four; Caribbean with CaneFire and Latin with Alejandra Ribera, Son Aché and others.  Speaking of Latin, we’ve added a new stage - Latin Square - close to the Boardwalk devoted to Latin sounds and all the frenetic action that comes with it.

We pride ourselves in catching rising stars and this year on the New Generation Stage at Woodbine Park, we’re presenting The Mike Butlin band.  An accomplished singer/songwriter, Mike adds a jazz and blues vibe to his indie sensibility.  Also watch for Kinga, a “Real Diva” gracing the stage for a solo performance.  Speaking of the next generation, our youth program continues to give young people a voice at the Festival.  We’ve got over 75 high school aged and younger aspiring musicians performing on our Youth stage at Woodbine Park.

What’s a Festival without some great photography immortalizing those magical jazz musical moments!  This year, we’re paying tribute to jazz photography at our new “photography pavilions-in-the-park” initiative, and we’re continuing to expand our jazz appreciation workshop offerings.  For all of our visitors, tourists and locals alike, in need of some extra TLC, we’ve introduced customized Jazz Experience Tour Packages to the Festival mix.

Bill King
Artistic Director
Bill King was born and raised in Jeffersonville, Indiana and moved to Toronto, Canada in 1969. King is the co-founder and publisher of the Jazz Report Magazines; he is currently the editor of eJazz News on-line magazine since 2001, and is a contributor to All About Jazz and Jazz Times on-line magazines.
A musician by trade, King has garnered three Juno nominations; a Maple Blues Award; and two National Jazz Awards for “Producer of the Year” and “Jazz Photographer of the Year.” His photos have appeared in books, magazines, newspapers and on CD covers.
King is co-owner of the National Jazz Awards Canada and eJazzTV and has been the Artistic Director of the Beaches International Jazz Festival for 22 years. Currently, King co-leader of the Southern blues/rock unit The Rockit 88 Band.