10 artists to catch at this year’s Vancouver Jazz Fest and make yourself seem more cultured

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Fest is not only a buffet sonic delights for music aficionados to sink their sharpened teeth into, June 21 to July 1, it’s also a chance for non-music aficionados to claim they like jazz and thus seem more cultured and interesting in the ongoing mating dance of life. But with 1,800 artists, 300 performances, 35 venues and more than 150 free shows, it’s a lot to navigate. So here’s a few ear-bending performances to put on your radar and help you in journey to become a better you. 

The Comet Is Coming

June 21, 9 p.m. at the Imperial

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The name conjures up what we’ll probably yell during the ensuing apocalypse, but these London-based musical cosmonauts are really a glimpse into the future with their spacy algorithm of jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic rock — reaffirming that space is indeed the place. 

Wu-Tang Clan


June 23, 8 p.m. at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Kicking down the doors of hip hop 25 years ago with their martial arts-informed opus Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Clan were larger than life from the outset. There’s a lot of them and they’ll need to be reckoned with when they fill the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage.   



June 23, 8 p.m. at Performance Works  

Singing in three languages, the Montreal-based Inuk singer, film director and activist uses English to explore folk, French for more romantic writing and Inuktitut to speak about Indigenous culture. Throw in some ’70s rock, Indigenous folk music and the moody cool of Tom Waits and Morphine and you’ve got a sure-to-be enchanting show.

Antonio Sánchez & Migration

June 26. 8 p.m. at CapU

With a resume that speaks volumes, this five-time Grammy award-winning drummer and composer of the score of 2014’s Oscar-winning film Birdman, flaps his wings with his quintet Migration for an electro-acoustic journey. 

Davina and the Vagabonds


June 28, 8 p.m. at Performance Works

Drawing comparisons to Etta James, Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday, Davina and the Vagabonds are sure to please with their retro-infused gumbo of New Orleans jazz, Memphis soul and gospel.

The Roots


June 28 8 p.m. at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Most people might know them as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’s house band, but the Roots have a long and prolific career pushing the boundaries of hip hop with a live show that’s not to be missed.

Brian Jackson Plays Songs from the Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson Songbook


June 29, 8 p.m. at Performance Works

Keyboard player and flutist Brian Jackson was a big part of the soulful jazz soundtracks that backed many of the spoken word masterpieces by late poet Gil Scott-Heron, most notably “The Bottle.” Jackson pays homage to his frequent collaborator and continues his legacy with this latest project.

Herbie Hancock


June 29, 8 p.m. at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer jazz legends left, but Herbie Hancock is one of them. Catch the continually evolving pianist/keyboardist and composer with his quartet.   

We Just Stole a Car

June 29, noon, main stage of David Lam Park

This local shape-shifting super group featuring members of Malleus Trio, Jo Passed, Only a Visitor and Freak Dream is an enjoyable free-for-all, with bursts of improvisation, modern composition and Indonesian gamelan music.

Blick Bassy


June 29, 5:15 p.m., main stage of David Lam Park

The Cameroon-born, Paris-based guitarist/vocalist combines African traditions, bossa nova, blues and politics. A potent and entertaining mix.


More info at coastaljazz.ca.


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