The must-watch shows of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival
Friday, June 24, 8:30pm, Toronto Star Stage, Metro Square (221 King St. W.)
Aretha Franklin is the undisputed "Queen of Soul" and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She is a singer of great passion and control whose finest recordings define the term soul music in all its deep, expressive glory. As Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun observed, "I don't think there's anybody I have known who possesses an instrument like hers and who has such a thorough background in gospel, the blues and the essential black-music idiom....She is blessed with an extraordinary combination of remarkable urban sophistication and of the deep blues feeling that comes from the Delta. The result is maybe the greatest singer of our time."
Franklin was born in Memphis and grew up in Detroit, where her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, served as pastor at the New Bethel Baptist Church. One of the best-known religious orators of the day, Rev. Franklin was a friend and colleague of Martin Luther King. Aretha began singing church music at an early age, and recorded her first album, "The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin," at fourteen. Her greatest influence was her aunt, Clara Ward, a renowned singer of sacred music. Beyond her family, Franklin drew from masters of the blues (Billie Holiday), jazz (Sarah Vaughn) and gospel (Mahalia Jackson), forging a contemporary synthesis that spoke to the younger generation in the new language of soul.
Los Lonely Boys
LOS LONELY BOYS
Tuesday, June 28, 8:30 pm, Toronto Star Stage, Metro Square (221 King St. W.)
Tickets: $35 + tax & service charges
Since their breakout 2004 self-titled album, which went twice platinum and garnered a Best Pop Performance Grammy for the No. 1 hit single "Heaven," Los Lonely Boys have toured all over the world, performing roughly 200 shows to more than 350,000 fans in 2009-10 alone. Their last studio album, 2008's "Forgiven," earned the band even more critical favour, with the "LA Times" extolling that it "oozes bone-deep feeling throughout." The band recently performed at the March for Immigration Reform on the National Mall in Washington before an audience of 90,000.
Their new album, "Rockpango," translates more or less to "rock party," and that's exactly what the 11-track collection is. The album stands as the most personal work yet by the Grammy-winning Garza brothers -- Henry, Ringo and Jojo -- who wrote, recorded and produced it themselves. "Rockpango," which will also be available in a Deluxe Edition featuring three bonus songs, behind-the-scenes video, and a fold-out poster of the cover art, marks the first full-length studio release of original material on the band's own LonelyTone imprint for Playing in Traffic Records.
Engineered and mixed by Steve Chadie (Wilco, Sublime), "Rockpango" follows 2010's critically acclaimed "Keep on Giving: Acoustic Live!" which captured collaborations with fellow Texans Alejandro Escovedo and Carrie Rodriguez and other inspired moments from the multi-platinum band's Acoustic Brotherhood Tour. All Music Guide praised the album's "seamless three-part harmonies" and "blazing guitar/bass interplay," while "Vintage Guitar" raved that Henry's work earned him a spot amongst "the top guitarists of his generation."
Sunday, July 3, 8:30 pm, Toronto Star Stage, Metro Square (221 King St. W.)
Tickets: $45 + tax & service charges
Montreal singer Nikki Yanofsky is on a roll! The diminutive teenager with the Olympic-sized voice wowed a worldwide audience with her jazzy rendition of "O Canada" at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. That was Nikki, too, singing the official Winter Olympics' theme song "I Believe" -- which eventually reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard Canada Top 100 and on the iTunes Canada Pop Chart. At the same time, Nikki's debut album, "Ella... Of Thee I Swing," scored No. 1 album on the iTunes Canada Jazz Chart. This cross-genre popularity is unprecedented in the history of iTunes.
To date, Nikki has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the National Arts Centre, and she has collaborated with the likes of Oliver Jones, Wyclef Jean and Colin James. She was the youngest singer ever on a Verve Records release when she recorded "Airmail Special" for the Ella Fitzgerald tribute album "We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song." She has also recorded the swing-era classic "Stompin' at the Savoy" with Grammy Award-winning artists Herbie Hancock and will.i.am (from the Black Eyed Peas) for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's audio book "On the Shoulders of Giants."
Her new album features a killer song that Feist wrote for her and six other songs co-written with Jesse Harris and Ron Sexsmith. Nikki's Vancouver Jazz Festival debut last year was a jaw-dropping affair.
Friday, July 1, 8:30 pm, Toronto Star Stage, Metro Square (221 King St. W.)
Tickets: $50 + tax & service charges
As one of hip-hop's most influential bands, The Roots take musicianship to the next level and beyond, incorporating heavy jazz sounds and live instrumentation that make their live concerts one of the best ever experiences. Their music blurs the lines between genres always leaving you wonder where will they go next.
The TD Toronto Jazz Festival runs from June 24-July 3