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Jazz on a Summer’s Day


International all-stars and local talents share the stage

By: Trevor J. Adams


The city is alive with music this month as the Halifax Jazz Festival returns from July 10 to 15. This annual festival is a hit with locals and visitors alike, offering a mix of free and ticketed shows—classic jazz, the blues, reggae, indie rock, and more. It’s little wonder this is Halifax’s most popular summer festival.

It’s a jam-packed schedule, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Here are our can’t-miss picks to ensure you experience the best JazzFest has to offer.


Molly Johnson


The action starts with a free evening concert (the only free evening concert at the waterfront main stage) featuring the Halifax All Star Jazz Revue and Molly Johnson. An award-winning vocalist, Johnson is one of Canada’s top jazz talents and best known to many as a CBC Radio host. In her latest album, Because of Billie, she celebrates the music and influence of Billie Holiday.


The War on Drugs


The waterfront stage hosts free performances every afternoon, while Alvvays and The War on Drugs take over in the evening for a concert of high-octane indie-rock. And if you’re a jazz purist, be sure to catch a show (or two, or three) at St. Matthew’s United Church on Barrington Street. Tonight, the acoustically perfect venue hosts jazz pianist extraordinaire Laila Biali.


Chaka Khan


Chaka. Khan. Those two words should be all you need. But to amplify the point: the funk/R&B legend has won 10 Grammys and sold 70 million records over her illustrious career. VH1 ranked her 17th on its list of the “100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll.” She’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. See this once-in-a-lifetime show at the main stage starting around 8pm.


Dub Kartel


Friday nights are for dancing. Halifax reggae ensemble Dub Kartel joins New Orleans brass ensemble The Soul Rebels for a lively evening performance on the waterfront. Staying up late? The Carleton hosts a series of shows that start at 11:15pm and continue into the wee hours. Tonight, hometown jazz hero Jeri Brown takes the stage.


Kitty and the Katz


Hydrostone Park on Young Street, in the heart of the stylish Hydrostone neighbourhood, hosts a free matinee concert, starting at 1pm with Kitty and the Katz. Downtown you’ll find more free shows in the evening, with local talents performing at Le Bistro by Liz, Baton Rouge, and Obladee wine bar.


Daniel Caesar


A full slate of Sunday shows wraps up the festival, with Canadian R&B talents Daniel Caesar and Charlotte Day Wilson sharing the stage. Finally, take a stroll up the hill to the Seahorse Tavern on Gottingen Street for the festival’s oFFcial after party, starting at 10:30pm. There will be (even more) live music, and special guests aplenty.



The Halifax Jazz Festival, formerly known as the Atlantic Jazz Festival, is the oldest jazz festival and largest summer festival in Atlantic Canada. Each year it attracts some 55,000 visitors, involves 450 volunteers, and employs over 350 local musicians. Throughout the year, organizers work to widen Halifax’s musical horizons, organizing a range of concerts and musical-education activities.

For a complete schedule and venue information, surf to halifaxjazzfestival.ca.

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