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St. Vincent Duncan_McNairnay


After 11 days of outstanding music at theatres, clubs, and outdoor stages in downtown Winnipeg, the 2014 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival

closed Sunday night with a sonic boom. Boasting world-class performances from the best jazz, roots and urban artists in the business, the festival kicked off on June 12.

Final attendance and calculations are still underway, but preliminary counts show that – despite some challenges – the festival was ultimately successful thanks to strong Theatre and Club Series ticket sales.

The Free Opening Weekend kicked off last Thursday night with a sensational night of music by local acts Amber Epp, Fauxpasfunk, Neil Watson and the Dirty Catfish Brass Band.

Despite occasional rain showers, lovers of Latin music still came out and droves on Friday evening to dance to Meta-Clave, Marco Castillo, Combo Latino, Son Latino Band and Papa Mambo.

The rain put a damper on the rest of the weekend, however, with only half the acts getting through their sets on Saturday, before the rest of the weekend was called off on account of rain.

The festival regained its momentum on Monday, moving indoors for the Club and Theatre Series. The Theatre Series kicked off with an emotional homecoming show for New York-based drummer Curtis Nowosad featuring ex-U of M jazz instructor Jimmy Greene at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. Crowd-pleasing sets by James Cotton, Gregory Porter and Arturo Sandoval followed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night. On Friday, however, the series’ run at MTC was truncated when Ellis Marsalis’ flight was cancelled, forcing him to miss him to miss his concert.

The festival did not slow down elsewhere that night, as Shad and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble had music fans on their feet right from the start at the Burton Cummings Theatre. Saturday brought Winnipeg’s most anticipated concert of the year, John Legend, who played to a sold-out crowd of adoring fans. The Theatre Series came to a close last night with a near-capacity performance by indie rock darling St. Vincent.

Meanwhile the Club Series enjoyed great ticket sales as Winnipeg music fans turned out in droves to hear stellar performances from some of today’s best artists.

Union Sound Hall, the festival’s newest venue, featured some of the hottest new sounds in urban and indie music, with packed concerts by the likes of Timber Timbre, Quantic and Killer Mike.

The King’s Head Pub hit capacity nearly every night as blues fans flocked to see concerts by the likes of Big Dave McLean, Watermelon Slim and Rick Estrin and The Nightcats.

At the Rachel Browne Theatre, Cinematheque, and The Winnipeg Free Press News Café, audiences were treated to amazing shows from such artists seasoned performers as the James Carter Organ Trio, Laila Biali, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, as well as newcomers Grace Hrabi, Brooke Van Ryssel and Aaron Sabasch.

Festival organizers dared venture outside again on Thursday for the return of The Cube Lounge, only to be once again be rained out. Luckily new Exchange District eatery Maw’s Garage stepped up and became the rain venue for great sets by Karl Kohut and Mrs. Jones. The show moved back outdoors on Friday and Saturday, where appreciative audiences enjoyed shows by The Complete Rebirth Of The Cool, The Ron Paley Big Band, Toronto’s Joel Miller, and more.

Festival artists led free workshops throughout the week at the TD Jazz Labs. Presented with support from Manitoba Music and Canadian Heritage, the sessions were led by Jane Bunnett, Chip Crawford, Watermelon Slim, Rick Estrin and James Carter.

Jazz Winnipeg would like to thank the nearly 300 volunteers for their essential support. Most of all we’d like to thank the thousands of music fans who came out to make the 25th annual festival a success.

Jazz Winnipeg gratefully acknowledges the support of its generous community partners including TD Bank Group, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, Pitney Bowes, Great-West Life, the Winnipeg Free Press, St. John’s Music, The Fairmont Winnipeg, MTS, Tetro Design, Half Pints Brewing Co., Epic Information Solutions, The Richardson Foundation, the Exchange District BIZ, RE/MAX Winnipeg, The Lab Works, Piston Ring Service, The Prolific Group, Manitoba Film & Music, Manitoba Music, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Ibex Payroll, Maxim Truck & Trailer, The Winnipeg Foundation, the Winnipeg Arts Council, the City of Winnipeg, Canadian Heritage and Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism, Sport & Consumer Protection.