JUNE 24 TO JULY 3 To mark its 25th season, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival stages 350 concerts at more than 40 venues with 1,500 musicians. But the only one big enough to kick off the event’s silver anniversary is Aretha Franklin, who gives this city some free opening-night R-E-S-P-E-C-T at David Pecaut Square. Fans can then find all the right grooves at shows by the Dave Holland Quintet, Kurt Elling, power trio The Bad Plus, and pianist Kenny Barron. Various venues and showtimes; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit here to buy.
Branford Marsalis on the soprano saxophone (photo by Funkman).
There’s no doubt what about the top ticket for tonight’s Toronto Jazz Festival lineup, as the mainstage at Nathan Phillips Square is occupied by some of the top players in jazz today: Branford Marsalis and the Dave Holland Quintet (8 p.m.). Soprano- and tenor-sax phenom Marsalis (older brother to Wynton) is one of the most respected improvisers of jazz’s post-bop era, and comes to Toronto riding a decade-long wave of must-hear recordings, including this year’s Metamorphosen. Marsalis is joined on stage by British bass player Dave Holland, whose career spans four decades and innumerable styles—he’s played everything from the fusion of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew to free jazz in a ’70s group with Chick Corea and Anthony Braxton to his own contemporary compositions in large and small ensembles. His current quintet features top talents Robin Eubanks (trombone), Chris Potter (saxophone), Steve Nelson (vibes) and Nate Smith (drums). Expect an evening of unforgettable modern music from these powerhouse performers.