Jazz Fest Preview – May We Recommend?

Editors’ picks for stuff you should see during the 2010 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.


They may be a household name now due to their supporting role on American network late night TV, but the Roots could’ve sold out the Pantages long before they became Jimmy Fallon’s house band. Questlove, Black Thought and company have been reshaping hip hop for 20 years, unapologetically injecting jazz and rock into their mix of rhymes and beats. These genre-busting Philadelphians are unparalleled live instrumentalists—as Late Night fans already know. Given how hard they rock from the sideline, you know we’re in for it when they hit centre stage. (Monday, June 28 @ Pantages Playhouse Theatre, 8 p.m., $64.50)


You know about Martha and her uncommon pedigree—daughter of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, sister of Rufus. You know about her frank, songwriting and raw vocals. This year at the Jazz Winnipeg Festival, you’ll see another side of this captivating singer. This time, Martha is Edith—Piaf, that is, the legendary French chanteuse. Wainwright recorded Piaf classics for her latest live album, Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, à Paris, and she will recreate those performances for a Winnipeg audience. Opening the show is singer/pianist duo José James and Jef Neve. (Sunday, June 27 @ Pantages Playhouse Theatre, 8 p.m., $41)


Tri-lingual Elisapie Isaac brings a dazzling and dense range of influences and inspiration to her music. Inuk by birth, she was raised in a northern Quebec Inuit community. She’s been a journalist, a filmmaker and half of the folk duo Taima, but now she’s struck out on her own with a solo record, There Will Be Stars. You’ll have two chances to experience her charming and transporting folk-pop (sung in English, French and Innu) on two occasions during the festival. Don’t miss out. (Sunday, June 27 @ Old Market Square, 7 p.m., free and later @ Aqua Books, 9:30 p.m., $12 adv./$15 door)


The record-conscious kids these days agree on just about everything these days—but I guarantee that if you force a group of stubborn people to choose their favourite Deerhoof record, there’s going to be one hell of a knife fight. There’s the absurd Milk Man, which has since been turned into a kids’ play, The Runners Four, their huge double album which is closest they’ll ever come to making pop songs, or the kitchen-sink attitude of Reveille—hell, you could justify any album they’ve made. This San Francisco four-piece has been around for more than 15 years and they’ve released 10 albums that can only be summed up as non-commercial rock and pop. Playing with time signatures, electronics, or harmonies, Deerhoof have done it all—yet they’re still known best for tearing it up onstage as a four-piece band. (Monday, June 28 @ Pyramid Cabaret, 9 p.m., $15 adv./ $18 door)


The Sunday night show of the Club Series is going to be quite the rowdy time. Think About Life, Canada’s finest sampler-and-synth-based band, is always bursting with energy, and singer Martin Cesar has more than enough personality to spare. A quick listen to the killer-catchy songs “Sweet Sixteen” or “Havin’ My Baby” off their latest album Family should be enough to convince that they’re worth seeing. But if that band isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, there is also Bonjay, an electronic Toronto duo steeped in dancehall and R&B. The duo began simply to play parties, but now they’re a full-fledged project, with thousands of followers and recordings to their name, which play out like an even more chill version of Santigold. (Sunday, June 27 @ Pyramid Cabaret, 10 p.m., $15 adv./$18 door)


True, true, there’s an awful lot of novelty wrapped up in the premise of this concert—under the name the Slew, Kid Koala and Dynomite D made the soundtrack to a film using nothing but biting rock albums and their sweet turntable skills, only for the film never to be released. Enter Wolfmother’s rhythm section. They dig the Slew’s music, they start playing together and voila, they’re all taking the show on the road. But despite all those pretenses, if the live show delivers anything close to the record that the Slew released, it’ll be one hell of a blow-you-out-of-the-water experience. Most of the songs are driving, in-your-face, and heavy-hitting like Wolfmother’s rock tracks, but it’ll maintain all of the quirk of Kid Koala that you’d expect—not to mention Kid Koala and Dynomite D dueling on not four turntables, but six. (Thursday, July 1 @ Pyramid Cabaret, 10 p.m., $18 adv./ $20 door)