It’s a new dawn it’s a new day

Remember that great tune entitled “Feeling Good” sung by Nina Simone, American singer, songwriter and civil rights activist ….

Birds flyin’ high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me
yeah, it’s a new dawn it’s a new day it’s a new life for me ooooooooh
AND I’M FEELING GOOD

Well, it’s a new dawn for our Festival too, as we embrace our 26th season – and we’re feeling good! Sure it’s been a brutal winter with little sun in the sky and sure we had some unexpected challenges come our way – but we have overcome and are flyin’ high and flyin’ large.

So what’s new for 2014? A whole lot actually. First and foremost, we’ve scooped up all of our wonderful stage offerings and landed them in Woodbine Park – except for Streetfest of course– we ain’t touching that one! Why have we done this? Well, there’s a bunch of reasons, but from an audience perspective, we wanted to give everyone more concentrated access to all off our main and specialty stages and the programming that we’ve put into place over the years – be it the Youth Stage, the Party Island Stage, the Latin Square Stage, the Big Band Stage, or our Main Stages, still within our two week July time frame. We want you to experience more jazz with less effort. Plus, we’ve now become “big band central”. You’ll note that in addition to our Big Band Stage  – we have an incredible number of  big bands performing this season on each of our other stages. Now that’s special! Finally, we’ve enticed the Waterfront Blues Festival to quietly join us this year by spreading the Blues to Woodbine Park one weekend before the launch of the Jazz Festival itself.

Here are some of our headliners this year: Multi Blues Music Award nominee, the soulful Teeny Tucker - who’s making a return to Beaches Jazz (2009). She proves that “dynamite comes in small packages”. Messenjah - arguably the most successful and popular reggae group in Canadian music history who reunited in 2014 after more than 15 years. Jay Douglas –  named by Now Magazine as “Toronto’s Best R&B singer” and who spearheaded the Jamaica to Toronto showcase of ex-pats Wayne McGhie, Jo Jo Bennett, and The Mighty Pope (Earl Heedram). Dumpstaphunk - continuing Beaches Jazz Fest’s “New Orleans Saturday Night” series, (that started with the Toronto debut of Trombone Shorty). “Dumpstaphunk has grown from a small side project into one of New Orleans’ most prestigious modern funk ensembles.”- Rolling Stone. Trampled Under Foot - from Kansas City, siblings Danielle (bass & vocals), Kris (drums), and Nick Schnebelen (guitar) grew up with the Blues. Winning the 2008 International Blues Challenge in Memphis set them on their way to being one of the most in-demand bands in the genre. Long Shen Dao - considered by many to be China’s finest reggae band. The Beijing-based group Long Shen Dao has created its own niche, fusing reggae beats with traditional Chinese music. And yes you read that right! And a special mention to the “Evil Gal” Michelle Willson who returns to Beaches Jazz (2000). As a writer in the respected Allmusic.com once put it this way: “Her singing is like a strong cup of Joe – it beelines to the gut and jolts the system.”

Shout-outs to perennial Festival favorites contemporary funk artist KC Roberts; power house vocalist Shakura S-Aida; our very own Bill King and his Rhythm Express and Latin-guitar master and world music artist Johannes Linstead.

A welcome to newcomers to our TD and OLG Main Stage – aspiring soul and R&B songstress Andrea Simone; powerhouse gospel sensation Amoy Levy; “purveyors of quality rock and roll” Who Stole the Cookies; “Tower Power” Bay city funk masters Oakland Stroke; Roots/Rock Guitarist and songwriter, Michael Schatte, Bruce Cassidy’s Hotfoot Orchestra, an exciting ensemble boasting some of Canada’s hottest jazz musicians drawing from a rich mix of jazz, funk, blues, and rhythm styles; Smokin’ and stylish Blues songwriter, vocalist and harp player Jordan Patterson; the smooth, authentic and seriously groovy soul/funksters Ron Littlejohn and The Funk Embassy; Barbra Lica, awarded 1st runner-up at the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition in the USA; Soul Stew, Toronto’s own legendary Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Jazz Funk ensemble; and the Toronto Mass Choir (TMC), which represents the cutting edge .of the Canadian gospel music scene.

Don’t miss the chance to see the future of jazz music in Canada. As you know, the Festival has a thing with supporting youth artists – and this season is no exception. The Festival in conjunction with the Toronto Port Authority is proud to present some of Canada’s best up-and-coming youth jazz musicians at our Youth Stage. On the first weekend we feature student combos from Discovery Through the Arts Music School (which is located in the Beach neighbourhood). These terrific combos allow students to perform with their teachers and mentors. The second weekend, we are happy to once again present ensembles from Youth Jazz Canada. Youth Jazz Canada is a national level pre-professional training program for talented youth interested in pursuing performance careers in music. These youth Combos are lead by some of Canada’s finest professional jazz musicians.

Viva el ritmo latino! It’s year five for our Latin Square Stage, managed by the multi-talented Jazz Meets Salsa’s Wilson Acevedo. This season we have the pleasure of showcasing drummer Max Senitt’s Latin Jazz with special guest vocalist, South American raised Valeria Matzner; a tribute to the Cuban Son with Jorge Sanchez y Los Inolvidables and Toronto’s own, Son Cubano Orquestra; the ever so popular exponents of the Parrandera sound from Colombia – Los Hijos de Tuta; DJ & Host of Rochester’s Best Latin Radio Station – Javier Rivera and the Esencia Latina; the Dominican Republic’s own, Juan Henriquez and his Bachata Band, who’ll have you dancing the night away with his promotional single “Todo Por Tu Amor” from his upcoming album; and of course there’s our ever popular DJs -  DJ Manyoma; DJ Walter (y su Rumbon Colombiano); DJ Rumba and Miko Sobreira‘s and Mike Salsa‘s stage side dance shows and workshops. Vamos a bailar!

It’s also year five for our Big Band Stage which has acquired quite the loyal following. Check out our perennial favorites – the Big City Big Band; the George Lake Big Band; the Swing Shift Big Band; the Mississauga Big Band; and The Jazz Mechanics  – all helped along by dance instructors from Bees’ Knees Dance, Toronto’s leading Swing Dance school. These biggggggg bands do an incredible job each year – and that’s why we just keep on inviting them back!  Oh yes -

Our Party Island Stage will once again be managed by producer, songwriter and musician, TO’s own Eddie Bullen, who this season is bringing Coldjack to the stage with the band’s (in their own words) “perfect blend of smooth jazz, R&B pop, spiced up with amazing grooves”…; Just Friends – who want to Funk You Up! and who consist of Washington D.C. area vocalist Sweet MS Key Key and ten members of the Omega PsiPhi Fraternity Inc.; along with his own Eddie Bullen Band and special guests – to the Party Island Stage.

StreetFest – Spreading out for 2.5 kilometers along Queen Street East, it features forty Canadian bands. Our audience complains about the frenzy and crowd factor each year – but then can’t wait to come back the following year to hear the familiar and the new bands taking up residency along the street.

To keep the action going mid-week, we are returning with our Taste of Jazz Gourmet Food Truck Extravaganza Event. This two day event, excites foodies and jazz lovers alike and features the sounds of Irene Torres and the Sugar Devils and the Toronto All-Star Big Band.

Join us for our next 25 year musical odyssey! Just like another great tune by Nina Simone says:  There’s a new world commin’ and it’s just around the bend. There’s a brand new mornin’ that be. Longs to you and me …

Credits: New World Coming written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Feeling Good written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.