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sonny rollins

Jazz Fest Picks—June 26 to 28

Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins

The annual TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival officially kicks off Friday night with two major headline performances, both at 8 p.m. Die-hard jazz fans will surely pack the Four Seasons Centre to experience a collective bout of tenor madness with legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins. The venerable musician gained prominence in the 1950s through his effortless, harmonically innovative playing in a renowned group with Max Roach and Clifford Brown, and on his own recordings such as Saxophone Colossus, Way Out West and the seminal Night at the Village Vanguard. His creative output has rarely flagged since—just two weeks ago the 78 year old garnered three trophies, including musician of the year, at the annual Jazz Awards, determined by more than 450 members of the Jazz Journalists Association. Across the street at the Nathan Phillips Square mainstage (Queen and Bay streets), exciting outfit Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings re-invigorate retro soul and R&B with funky horns, hard-driving rhythms and singer Jones’s incomparable set of pipes. You’ll be dancing long after the band takes its bow! Also on Friday, Toronto- based pianist Hilario Duran and guitarist Luis Mario Ochoa bring their lauded Afro-Cuban stylings to Lula Lounge (7:30 p.m. 1585 Dundas St. W., 416-588-0307), while Canada’s jazzy jack of all trades, Don Thompson, teams up with guitarist Reg Schwager at Mezzetta Restaurant (9 p.m.)

Saturday offers a surfeit of shows, with three hip options of particular note: top-tier avant-electro-jam-jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood showcase their improvisational prowess under the stars at Nathan Phillips Square (8 p.m.); super-cool six-stringer Charlie Hunter—who has plied his trade alongside musicians as diverse as D’Angelo, Mos Def and Norah Jones—sits down for two groovy sets at The Pilot (9 & 11 p.m.); and Chicago post-rock band The Sea and Cake bring their underground sound to Supermarket (9:30 p.m.). The resto-jazz crowd is well-served tonight by local lights Dave Young and Robi Botos—the bass-and-keys duo can be found at Mezzetta (9 p.m.).

And if you’re still craving tunes as the weekend winds down, Sunday offers a full slate to satiate. Highlights on this day include a pair of performances from the festival’s “Jazz by the Lake” series at Harbourfront Centre. Here you’ll be treated to some Home Cookin’ with Jackie Richardson and Joe Sealy (7 p.m.), plus the evocative, unclassifiable sounds of the Maria Schneider Orchestra (9 p.m.), which counts among its number Ingrid Jensen, the Vancouver-born, New York-based trumpter.

Weekend Roundup, June 26 to 28

Music, magic and multiculturalism move through the city this weekend as many of Toronto’s adored annual festivals take flight.

Friday: Karen Robinson stars under the stars in <em>The Tempest</em> (photo by Chris Gallow).

Friday: Karen Robinson stars under the stars in The Tempest (photo by Chris Gallow).

Friday, June 26
Surrender to Shakespeare’s lyrical soliloquies in The Tempest during CanStage TD Dream in High Park, where the mystical tale is told in the open air.

Spend an enchanted evening with saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins as he launches the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Head to the lakeshore for the opening reception of nine new art exhibits at the York Quay Centre—pursue painting, pottery, photography and more!

Saturday: See this fragment from the Book of War as part of the ROM's Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition (image courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority).

Saturday: A fragment from the Book of War is part of the ROM's Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition (image courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority).

Saturday, June 27
Discover the link between the ancient and modern world by viewing the Royal Ontario Museum’s blockbuster exhibition, Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World.

Adhere to your appetite of jazz and drinks at popular pub Dominion on Queen, featuring a performance this evening by the York Jazz Ensemble.

Celebrate unique customs with the Multicultural Festival at the Children’s Peace Theatre with face painting, henna tattoos and traditional cuisine.

Delight in the diversity of the Distillery Historic District as you wander its cobbled streets during the Toronto City Roots Festival.

Sunday: Revel at the Pride Parade (photo by Kevin Lam).

Sunday: Revel at the Pride Parade (photo by Kevin Lam).

Sunday, June 28
Rise and shine at Le Petit Dejeuner—Belgian waffles are lightly dusted with icing sugar and glazed in golden maple syrup.

Partake in the pageantry of the Pride Parade, ending this year’s fabulous festival of frivolity and family fun.

Immerse yourself in the infectious, spirited soul of lauded Louisianan Buckwheat Zydeco at Nathan Phillips Square, part of the Toronto Jazz Festival.

Your Guide to the 2009 TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival

Ten music-filled days and nights have everyone dancing in the streets during the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival. —By Danielle Milley

Catch Kool & The Gang hit all the right notes on the mainstage at Nathan Phillips Square (photo by Silvia Mautner.)

Catch Kool & The Gang hit all the right notes at Nathan Phillips Square (photo by Silvia Mautner.)

The TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival is sure to have feet tapping and fingers snapping as it slides into town this summer with more than 350 concerts. This year’s event, which runs from June 26 to July 5, brings together more than 1,500 musicians at 40 venues as part of the city’s biggest musical showcase. There’s something for every hep cat and cool chick no matter their taste, with free daytime concerts, ticketed mainstage performances every evening and late-night jazz extending the musical euphoria at some of the hippest venues in the city.