Hot on the heels of Toronto Jazz Fest, the 34th annual Beaches Jazz Festival arrived in the thick of summer to quench the thirst of fans hungry for more. For all of July, the charming lakeside neighbourhood hosted a series of concerts, workshops and outdoor events.
Hundreds of thousands of attendees enjoyed a plethora of performances ranging from a capella and big band to funk and jazz fusion, as well as DJ sets at Woodbine Park featuring local mainstays like Paul E. Lopes, Starting from Scratch, Jason Palma and Mike Tull.
The festivities kicked off July 2 with Salsa on the Beach at Woodbine Park, and a band showcase in Leslieville and Riverside the following weekend. Violin virtuoso Dr. Draw brought his infectious energy to Jimmie Simpson Park, along with Indigenous artist Wolf Saga and local ska legends Arsenals.
Sounds of summer jazz returned to Woodbine Park on the weekend of July 15 with headliners Brass Transit, Everyday People: A Tribute to Sly and the Family Stone, and KC Roberts & the Live Revolution, whose energetic set contrasted with the easy Sunday crowd interestingly seated on chairs at white banquet tables.
The Beaches Jazz Festival culminated with its StreetFest, a quintessential Toronto summer tradition that transformed two kilometres of Queen St. East into a sprawling smorgasbord with dozens of bands, street food vendors and fans hungry for both. Performers on the three nights of StreetFest included the impressive Quincy Bullen, Sol de Cuba, Forest Creek Steel Drum Orchestra, and talented local ensembles Inner Soul and Steinwall.
Strolling the pedestrian paradise, one could hear big band standards alongside more liberal interpretations of “jazz” such as a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” as the summer sun slowly faded along with the festival’s month-long reign.
Photography by Andy Lee