Every year, Vancouver likes to greet its summers with erratic freak rains, opening seasonal markets, an influx of 5 Robson busses to the beach and, of course, an abundance of festivals. Already have the streets filled with the mixing aromas of the Food Cart Fest and the captivating skill of the Buskers Fest, and only just recently has the city come alive with the spirit of jazz.
The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is a 12 day long celebration of jazz, blues and improvised music that has become a regular sight to Vancouver summers. Started in 1986 as a small and local event, the VIJF has grown to become one of the most notable jazz festivals in the world. This years performers -local, Canadian and international musicians- welcomed over 500,000 attendees on its various stages around the city. Big names from this years festival included vocalist and ten-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin, saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd, Cuban trumpeter and multiple Grammy award winner Arturo Sandoval, Canadian singer-songwriter Jill Barber and popular Japanese pianist Hiromi.
The beauty of the Jazz Festival is the wide spread of location and diverse lineup of performers. The festival could offer both tight packed, concert-like settings in venues such as David Lam Park and relaxing, open atmospheres in venues like the Georgia Street stage. The Jazz Festival was just as much paid performances on theater stages as it was soothing sidewalk serenades on the way to the train station. From nightclubs to parks, streets to hotels, cafes to public markets, music stores to libraries, and community centers to theaters, the Jazz Festival really intertwines itself with all of Vancouver. It truly is a city celebration; of jazz, yes, but in a way of music and audience as a whole.
Though times have been hard for jazz musicians all over the world, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival has remained strong for twenty eight years. Entertaining audiences and exposing artists every summer since then, the VIJF has really become a prominent British Columbian music festival. A resounding success this year, the performers were dynamic and versatile, each act knowing their own balance of entertainment, talent and passion; every show a triumph.
There really is nothing like sitting on the steps of the Art Gallery or the dock in Granville Island, head bobbing to a tune you’re itching to put on some soundtrack, basking in the afternoon sun, savoring that momentary crowd camaraderie, and brimming with the underlying anticipation of the two months ahead -the restless excitement of the brink of summer.