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The Toronto Sun n Friday, august 19, 2011

SHOWBIZ

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LAILA BIALI

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Errols cant miss list

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Blue Mercury Coupe and The Irving Klaws bring their greasy garage rock to the Cadillac Lounge tonight. 10 p.m. $10. 1296 Queen St. W. Masala! Mehndi! Masti!, a festival of South Asian culture, starts today and wraps up Sunday at Harbourfront. harbourfrontcentre. com The fourth annual Fairbank Village Summer Fest runs Saturday and Sunday on Eglinton Ave. W. between Dufferin St. and Chamberlain Ave. fairbankvillagebia.ca

One cool feature of York Region fest is that it has an Arist in Residence Jeff Coffin this year
As someone who has attended festivals from Barbados to Bombay, I can attest to the fact that excellent venues and thoughtful programming always make for a funky good time. And thats why, year after year, the Montreal Jazz Festival is declared an unprecedented success. Michael Occhippinti is under no illusion that the Markham Jazz Festival, for which he serves as artistic director, can compete with the massive party in Montreal, but hes doing an admirable job presenting an event thats not just about concerts. One feature that I introduced last year was having an Artist in Residence, with the idea that a particular musician would participate in the festival in multiple ways, so that they do more than simply fly into town, play a concert and leave, Occhippinti says. I want them to leave a lasting impact, and hopefully interact with local musicians and fans. The acclaimed jazz clarinetist Don Byron was the Artist in Residence last year, and he performed with singer Sheila Jordan, his own group, and Ochippintis group, The Triodes, over three days. This year, Jeff Coffin is the festivals Artist in Residence. Not only is Jeff a great saxophonist but hes also a really dedicated educator who loves doing clinics and reaching out to young musicians, Occhippinti says. So, hell perform with his group, Mutet, on Saturday and Sunday; hell give a free clinic at the Varley Art Gallery on Sunday; and hes

All that Markham jazz


Rhythms N Rhymes

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making himself available for private lessons. The festivals gala headliner, Gretchen Parlato, is also giving a free vocal clinic, and that should be one of the highlights of the weekend. Shes getting praise from people like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, and I want her to share her unique approach with anyone who wants to know what she does, Occhippinti says. Her clinic and Jeff s are open to anyone because its important to reach out to fans as well as musicians. One

thing that Ive enjoyed whenever Ive performed at jazz festivals in Vancouver and Guelph is that, along with concerts, they have workshops with the artists. Im thrilled were beginning to do similar things in Markham this year. Occhipinti says that while the festivals mandate is to celebrate all forms of jazz, his goal is to present musicians who havent been discovered by other festivals. Last year, we were the first to present Don Byrons New Gospel Quintet, a year ahead of their appearances at Lincoln Centre and at the Montreal Jazz Festival. This year, were the first to present Gretchen in the GTA, and Mutet is making its Canadian debut, too. Unlike some programmers

who feel the need to pack their events with marquee names, Occhippinti does his best to give local jazz musicians some love at his festival. I really try to celebrate the best in Canadian music, especially artists whove received Juno awards or nominations, he says, adding that he feels musicians whove won or been nominated are often neglected by festivals. So, we have 2011 Juno nominees Laila Biali, Kellylee Evans, and the Johnny Max Band performing. As I mentioned earlier, a great venue plays a huge role in a festivals success and Occhippinti feels the festival has it. I think the setting we have (historic Main Street) is really conducive to getting people

walking around checking out music, without having to go too far to get from one venue to another, he says. Were on a much smaller scale, but that is one aspect of what makes Montreal such a successful festival. For now, he cant hold back his excitement for whats to come. Just looking at a small twohour window on Sunday afternoon, you can hear a great jazz singer (Kellylee Evans), a Grammy-winning saxophonist (Jeff Coffin), spoken word/ electronica (Lal), Turkish fusion (Minor Empire), Brazilian crossover music (Luanda Jones), and great modern jazz (Chris Tarry). Where else can you do that in one afternoon with a short five-minute stroll between stages?