Annual jazz fest this weekend

Toronto-based sextet Club Django is slated to bring their gypsy-swing jazz to the Wellington Street Theatre on Thursday night.
Toronto-based sextet Club Django is slated to bring their gypsy-swing jazz to the Wellington Street Theatre on Thursday night.
Photo courtesy of
Sax-y Joel Miller and his project Mandala play Saturday night.
Sax-y Joel Miller and his project Mandala play Saturday night.
Photo courtesy of

Music Festival Preview: 2005 Kingston Jazz Festival, Sept. 22-24

The hazy glow of autumn is well upon us. The streets pulse with the beat of excited students, the weather, cool and breezy in the daylight hours, brings a biting chill after the sun goes down. The lively smell of keggers and porch parties filters through the Ghetto air.

And while the foliage resolutely clings to its vibrant green, one fall tradition also hits Kingston this week: the annual Kingston Jazz Festival. Taking up residence in the new Wellington Street Theatre, this Kingston legend offers up a bevy of jazz performances and clinics for the community.

The Kingston Jazz Festival is an annual presentation of the Kingston Jazz Society (KJS), which consists of a group of jazz-loving citizens and players who look to spread their musical passion to the rest of the city.

The history of jazz in Kingston is a long-standing one, dating back to the end of the Second World War when Kingston played host to numerous bands, including—and perhaps most famously—the Canadian Forces Vimy Band. A stellar collective of players who were astonishing as an ensemble, the Vimy Band also meshed with local horn-blowers, caterwaulers and the like, providing plenty of impromptu spice to Kingston’s night life. Looking to preserve this vivacious past, the jazz-o-philes that make up the KJS have worked to bring a quality lineup of artists every year, and this year is no different.

•Getting things started on Thursday, Sept. 22, is Luluk Purwanto and the Helsdingen Trio. This Dutch collective features Indonesian-born Luluk Purwanto on vocals and violin, as well as Rene van Helsdingen on piano, making up a formidable lead section and held down by groovy Essiet Okon Essiet on cello and stand-out drummer Marcello Pellitteri. Their sound is an eclectic brand of traditional jazz rhythms combined with world tones and vibes, brought in from their mixed backgrounds. This free performance, which takes place at the Military Communications & Electronics Museum at CFB Kingston at 5 p.m., is meant to honour and remember the 60th anniversary of the Netherlands Liberation. Luluk and Co. will also be performing on Sept. 23 between 4 and 6 p.m. in the Confederation Basin Park on their world famous “Stage Bus,” a mobile stage built directly into their tour bus. This performance is also free.

•Another artist featured on this year’s jazz buffet is Montreal’s Christine Jensen. Jensen has gained much critical acclaim as an alto saxophonist, but also for her skills on the soprano sax. She brings a creativity to her music that is vital and energizing . Jensen’s album, A Shorter Distance, is a warm yet sparse trip that has yielded accolades from the Toronto Star, who claimed that “Jensen’s playing conjures vivid images of Wayne Shorter and Steve Lacy, all long lines and full-blooded notes.” Jensen will be playing as part of the Christine Jensen Sextet, which also features Dave Restivo, at the Wellington Street Theatre (Wellington at Johnson) on Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets for this performance are $25 and $20 for students and seniors.

• As an added bonus, following Jensen will be fellow saxophonist Joel Miller and Mandala. Miller, who has been described as Canada’s most forward-looking, refined jazz musician, promises to be a treat as his newest project, Mandala, presents a playful peek at Montreal’s pan-cultural jazz scene, full of world music influence and rhythm.

• A highlight of this year’s festival is Toronto’s own version of the Hot Club de France: Club Django. This sextet—featuring Gary Duligal on piano accordion, John Farrell on lead guitar, Tony Oldland and Andre Seguinot on rhythm guitar and Andre Sholzberg on double bass—also features Rodion Boshoer and Chris McKhool on violin. The sextet writes much of their own music while still paying homage to the three-fingered Gypsy swing-king from whom their moniker is borrowed, Django Rheinhardt. Club Django is a must-see for all fans of guitar-based jazz and will be performing at the Wellington Street Theatre n Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.

• Saturday’s festivities include a clinic by renowned trumpeter Chase Sanborn.

This clinic is open to all and is not a master class, and whether you play “Freddie Freeloader” effortlessly or don’t play a lick, this clinic aims to explain the mindset of jazz, the feel of jazz, and—most importantly—the language of jazz to all in attendance.

The clinic will be held at the Wellington Street Theatre from 1 to 3 p.m. and is $10 for adults and free for those 65 years and older.

• The festival will close with the Dave Barton Quartet and Sophie Milman on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the Wellington Street Theatre. The Quartet features Dave Barton, Jon Stewart on sax, Mike Perlin on bass and Mike Cassells on drums, followed by Sophie Milman, a 21-year-old vocal virtuoso who has delighted audiences from Canada to Israel and back.

The Kingston Jazz Festival is a longstanding tradition that should not be missed. Whether you’ve worn through your copy of A Love Supreme, sing like Ella Fitzgerald or have never experienced this intense brand of improvisational music, jazz is for everyone.

—With files from

2005 Kingston Jazz Festival

What: An annual jazz festival that brings artists from all over the world to Kingston each year.

Who: Sponsored by the Kingston Jazz Society, a non-profit organization consisting of local jazz-o-philes.

Where: Wellington Street Theatre, 126 Wellington St. (at Wellington and Johnson Streets, formerly the Masonic Temple), and there will also be two additional outdoor events.

When: Thursday, Sept. 22 - Saturday, Sept. 24

Tickets: Tickets range from free to $20 for students, depending on the event.

For more information, visit

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