Jazz Most Certainly for the Ages
Young performers recognized by the TD Niagara Jazz Festival
The next generation of jazz is in great hands.
The inaugural Jazz for the Ages event hosted by the TD Niagara Jazz Festival turned out a significant number of young soloists, singers and bands with an interest in, and talent for, jazz. And the results have left Festival organizers excited at what the Next Big Thing may bring.
“Part of our mandate is to keep this great art form alive and it is a pleasure to see that we're not alone in sharing that vision,” says Peter Shea, Artistic Director and Co-Creator of the Jazz Festival. “It heartwarming to see the next generation is picking up the torch and is really into jazz.”
Finalists for the Jazz for the Ages youth competition were selected from YouTube submissions for a live audition in late May at Laura Secord Secondary School in St. Catharines.
From those performances, four winners have been chosen:
Age 12 and Under Soloist – James Dunbar
A Toronto native, James began gigging regularly at the age of 8. For three years he performed at his local Loblaws, where he played boogie, blues and original Jazz compositions to the delight (and chagrin!) of many a shopper.
It was while playing there that jazz singer Ori Dagan discovered James and booked him to play at the 120 Diner in downtown Toronto. That show led directly to James’ “Hump Day Blues” residency at Toronto’s Jazz Bistro, where he has played 15 shows and counting.
In a fitting concurrence with groceries, James recently won $20,000 from 2015 Kellogg’s Nominate Talent Contest.
· Age 13-17 Soloist — Avery Raquel
Performing since the age of 4, Avery Raquel is an aspiring “triple threat” performer. Although she has several film, TV, commercial and stage acting credits to her name, Avery’s real passion is singing, and now at the age of 14 her captivating jazz performances are winning awards.
The Brantford native has performed in jazz clubs from New York City to Toronto and in jazz festivals across Ontario, sharing the stage with excellent jazz acts such as June Garber, Lou Pomanti and the Dave Restivo Trio. Her debut album, Life Lessons, was released earlier this year amid critical acclaim and has been nominated for Jazz Recording of the Year at the 2016 Hamilton Music Awards.
For more information, please visit www.averyraquel.com.
· Age 13-17 Band — Holy Cross Jazz Ensemble
The Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School Jazz ensemble can be found all across Niagara performing for a variety of community functions — and they are most certainly ever-present at their St. Catharines school.
This dynamic group of students ranging from 15 to 17 years old was selected for the band based on their work ethic, talent and commitment to music. Rehearsing three times a week, many of the alumni of the Holy Cross Jazz Ensemble have continued to pursue careers in the music industry after graduation.
· Age 18-23 Band — Razzmatazz
The simple definition of razzmatazz [raz-muh-taz] is a noisy and exciting activity that is meant to attract attention. That most certainly defines Razzmatazz, a Niagara Falls-based musical collective consisting of a strong sense of groove, captivating arrangements — and a bearded bassist.
Razzmatazz or Razzamatazz may or may not also refer to a song from the Quincy Jones album The Dude, a Crayola crayon colour, a shade of rose or crimson or a berry-flavoured smoothie made by Jamba Juice. Razzmatazz the band is made up of Roland on keys, Marc on drums and the aforementioned bearded Nick on bass.
“We are so thrilled to integrate the youth into our Jazz Festival this year and are absolutely amazed at the young talent that is out there,” says Juliet Dunn, Executive Director and Co-Creator of the Jazz Festival. “What a pleasure it has been for us to showcase the winners and runners up that are an inspiration for other young talents to come forward in the future.”
The winners of Jazz for the Ages, along with some of the runners up, will be performing a free show at the outset of this year’s TD Niagara Jazz Festival at the Market Square in downtown St. Catharines on Friday, July 29th. The show is slated to start at 7 pm.
Featuring 40 acts and 150 artists and performers, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival takes place July 29th to 31st at 15 stages and venues across Niagara. Tickets are now on sale! Visit niagarajazzfestival.com for tickets, weekend passes and packages. Join the TD Niagara Jazz Festival on Facebook, Follow it on Twitter @jazzniagara and share some pictures on Instagram @theniagarajazzfestival.
About the TD Niagara Jazz Festival:
Now in its third year, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival is a cutting edge three-day celebration of all types of jazz, performed in intimate indoor and outdoor venues in the heart of Niagara’s stunning wine country. Presenting the finest Canadian and internationally-acclaimed jazz musicians by way of spectacular concerts, wine, craft beer and culinary packages — and free performances throughout select locations across Niagara. Launched in 2014, more than 3,000 people attended the inaugural three-day TD Niagara Jazz Festival featuring 20 bands, more than 70 musicians and seven venues.
The TD Niagara Jazz Festival is generously supported in part by: