The TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival begins in earnest tonight and continues through to July 5, with some of the genre’s biggest names performing on the mainstage at Nathan Phillips Square plus smaller (but no less superb) shows at the city’s hottest jazz clubs.
Two performances in particular stand out this evening, and it just so happens they’re at the same venue—downtown institution The Rex. At 8 p.m., a quartet of Toronto stalwarts takes the stage, as saxophonist Pat LaBarbera shows his hard-bop chops alongside Brian Dickinson (piano), Neil Swainson (bass) and Bob McLaren (drums). The club’s late show at 11 p.m. offers a special treat in the form of a performance by Michael Herring’s Vertigo with esteemed altoist David Binney, in celebration of the group’s new album, Dark Materials. Herring, a young Toronto bass player, weaves his modern-jazz compositions from a variety of musical styles—a perfect foil for New York–based Binney, whose distinctive playing has long drawn from a diverse sonic palette–from Latin to Indian to the avant-garde. Best of all, if you miss the group tonight, they’ll be jamming again on Friday, at the slightly more reasonable hour of 8 p.m.