Jazzfest 2024

June 25, 2024
to
June 30, 2024

TUE JUNE 25 - SUN JUNE 30

The Medicine Hat JazzFest is in its 28th year of bringing the best in jazz to south-eastern Alberta. JazzFest features local, Canadian and international artists.

Hear many of the same musicians that are appearing at the other major jazz festivals across Canada, in beautiful, unique and intimate venues that puts the audience in close proximity to the artists.

The Medicine Hat JazzFest is all about high quality jazz music, accessibility, and bringing a fun, community celebration that’s enjoyable for everyone.

Tuesday, June 25 | 7PM | Esplanade Terrace

The Anthony Fung Quartet/Eliana Cuevas & Jeremy Ledbetter

Anthony Fung is a Canadian-born drummer, composer, producer, and bandleader currently based in Los Angeles, CA. He has established himself as an accomplished musician, earning multiple degrees and performing at renowned festivals and venues worldwide.

Anthony is an alumnus of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance where he earned a Master of Music degree while studying and performing with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chris Potter, Billy Childs, and many others. Previously, Anthony also earned both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Berklee College of Music and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute under the tutelage of Danilo Pérez.

Having performed at festivals and other venues worldwide, Anthony has appeared at International Jazz Day (St. Petersburg, Russia and Havana, Cuba), Panama Jazz Festival, Panama Percussion Festival, Sitka Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, and the Montréal Jazz Festival. He has performed alongside Danilo Pérez, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenón, Esperanza Spalding, Dave Douglas, Jerry Bergonzi, Rubén Blades, and Ingrid Jensen, among others.

As a bandleader, Anthony released his debut album, Chronicles (2014) with the Anthony Fung Quintet. He released his second album, Flashpoint in (2018) which received a “Best Albums of 2019 & 2020” 4-star review in Downbeat Magazine and a feature on WBGO’s “New Music by Five Composers Behind the Drums.” What Does it Mean to be Free? In May 2022 and most recently FO(U)RTH which is set to release on September 29th featuring master saxophonist Mark Turner.

Aside from performing, he is an accomplished composer and producer. Fung’s composition work can be heard on the feature documentary “The Last Tourist” on Apple TV, Season 3 of Craig Robinson’s Hulu special “Your Attention Please” as well as a commissioned work for the Los Angeles Jazz Society in 2020 entitled The Chinese Immigration Suite.

Currently, Anthony is a faculty member at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where he shares his knowledge and passion for music with the next generation of musicians.

Joining Anthony will be Dayna Stephens on saxophone, Luca Alemanno on bass and Michael Ragonese on piano.

Eliana Cuevas and Jeremy Ledbetter are well-known for composing and performing as bandleaders of their own Latin Jazz projects and as side musicians for some of the best musical acts in Canada. A married couple with two children together, their joint work includes Eliana’s last three albums which earned them two Independent Music Awards for Best World Music Album and Best World Music Producer in New York, plus a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best World Music Album. Eliana and Jeremy have been performing together in various configurations for over 15 years. Now they have created a new duo project that unveils their musical chemistry in a more intimate way. They feature a unique and soulful take on Latin American music with a focus on Venezuelan folkloric repertoire.

Their music is jazz-infused, acoustic, and showcases original compositions plus some of the most beloved, traditional Venezuelan songs. Their performances are playful, adventurous, spontaneous, and very moving, allowing their audiences to experience a wide range of emotions. On stage they open a window into their lives, creating a display of their experiences together through music, taking advantage of their personal connection to make their songs come to life.

Workshop with Laura Anglade | Wednesday, June 26 | 2 PM | Front Lawn | FREE

(Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Some chairs will be on hand.)

Wednesday, June 26 | 7 PM | Rooftop Terrace

Laura Anglade/Audrey Ochoa

Recognized by Radio Canada’s Ici Musique as one of the top 5 female jazz musicians to watch out for, Toronto based French/American Jazz singer Laura Anglade is making a name for herself in the jazz world. Laura’s singing is reminiscent of many of the great vocal stylists of the 20th century including Anita O’Day, Shirley Horn, and Blossom Dearie, but her voice is uniquely her own. She digs emotionally and eloquently into a standard, her story-telling abilities portray a soul beyond her years.

Her debut release, I’ve Got Just About Everything saw the vocalist and composer, along with her quintet, fearlessly plunging headlong into a wide range of material, drawn from both the Broadway stage as well as the Great American Songbook. On her sophomore recording, Venez Donc Chez Moi, Laura teamed up with Montréal guitarist Sam Kirmayer (and New York based accordionist Benjamin Rosenblum on two tracks). It’s an homage of sorts and a nod to Laura’s beloved France. It features jazz versions of French classics made famous by Maurice Chevalier, Boris Vian, Édith Piaf, and Jacques Brel to name a few. Laura leads an active international touring schedule and has performed at venues including Town Hall (New York City), the Ace Theatre Hotel (Los Angeles), l’Olympia (Paris), Royal Festival Hall (London), and the main stage at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal among others. She opened for Gregory Porter at the Victoria Jazz Festival (summer 2022), and Melody Gardot (fall 2022), joining her across the east and west coasts of the US and Europe. Laura’s brand-new release entitled, Get Out of Town, will start releasing singles in the Summer and Fall of 2024.Joining Laura will be John Chapman on bass, Valérie Lacombe on drums and Sam Kirmayer on guitar.

Classically trained but with a voracious appetite for honing her craft in any genre, Audrey Ochoa has shared stages with the Dave Matthews Band, Hilario Durán, PJ Perry, and Tommy Banks; and with international greats Lew Tabackin, Marcus Miller and Chris Potter. A rising star in her own right and a fixture of the Canadian music scene, she is decidedly captivating and original, and her compositional skill and talent on her instrument are spectacular.

Her debut album, Trombone and Other Delights (2013), spent three consecutive weeks as the number-one Jazz album on the Canadian charts. Ochoa’s sophomore release, Afterthought (2017), found its way to a #1 position on the Canadian jazz charts and broke top 20 in the US. She is a decorated award nominee, having earned recognition at the Western Canadian Music Awards, the Global Music Awards, and a recent recipient of the Edmonton Music Prize, noting an outstanding musical contribution to the local arts scene.

Her next release, Frankenhorn (2020), is an ambitious project that introduced strings into her previous configuration of trombone, piano, bass and drums, a mix of chamber music with contemporary and Latin jazz. Focused on unique arrangements, the album features electronic remixes alongside this harmonious combination of genres and ideals. It caught the attention of jazz media, with the album peaking at #2 on the Canadian national jazz radio chart, and reaching #23 on the JazzWeek Top 50 chart in the U.S. She also received airplay on UK’s JazzFM London, and had features in Neon Jazz, Sounds Visual, Voice of America (nationally syndicated). The album received reviews in Rhythm of Study, The WholeNote Magazine, Take Effect, the Edmonton Journal, and many other jazz publications. This release also led to Audrey’s selection as the 2020 Jazz Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.

Exhilarating and exuberant, Audrey Ochoa exemplifies an artist who has dedicated herself to expertise while remaining relevant and light-hearted.

Joining Audrey will be Jim Head on guitar, Esteban Herrera on piano, Dan Churchill on bass and Jon May on drums.

Thursday, June 27 | 7 PM | Esplanade Terrace

Pasquale Grasso/Avataar

Born in Italy and now based in New York City, 30-year-old guitarist Pasquale Grasso has developed an astounding technique and concept informed not by jazz guitarists so much as by bebop pioneers like Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and the classical-guitar tradition. Hailed by guitar legend Pat Metheny as, “The best guitar player I’ve heard in maybe my entire life,” Grasso is catching the attention of the jazz world in an astounding way.

Grasso’s playing might be thought to evoke the likes of guitarist Joe Pass, but on deeper listening, his virtuosic playing is equally akin to piano titan Art Tatum, so astounding are his technique and rhythm.

Grasso was born and raised in Ariano Irpino in Italy’s Campania region. Along with his older brother Luigi, a gifted alto saxophonist, they grew up hearing their parent’s jazz and classical recordings, and being taken to events like Umbria Jazz, rather than watching TV at night.

Pasquale has already won several awards and spends his time now teaching and gigging around New York, including frequent solo performances at the popular Greenwich Village haunt, Mezzrow.

It is an honour to have Pasquale at JazzFest this year. Joining Pasquale will be Paul Johnston on bass and Jonathan McCaslin on drums.

Avataar is a world-jazz group led by saxophonist/flutist/vocalist Sundar Viswanathan. Earmarked by JAZZFM91 as one of the ‘Best 25 Albums of 2021’, the band’s sophomore album Worldview won the 2022 JUNO Award for Best Jazz Album (Group). The music is inspired by the deep musical traditions of India, Africa and Brazil, rooted within the framework of modern jazz. In an innovative marriage of ancient and modern, driving grooves intersect with cinematic atmospheres and soaring melodies, creating a fresh, emotive sonic experience. Band members share an eclectic range of musical expertise – hardbop, pop, rock, electronica, free improvisation, world and R&B/Soul filter into the interpretations of the tunes. Both Worldview and Petal (Avataar’s debut CD (2016)) received critical acclaim internationally from publications including DOWNBEAT, JAZZIZ, allaboutjazz, Jazz Weekly, and worldmusiccentral.com.

The band’s original compositions are informed by artists including Shakti, Jarrett, Oregon, Jan Garbarek, AC Jobim, Robert Glasper, Snarky Puppy, Kenny Garrett and Ornette Coleman, and at their core are imbued with an intent toward political and social change and a spiritual focus that transcends the sound.

Other members of Avataar are, Laura Swankey on vocals, Michael Occhipinti on guitar, Rich Brown on bass, Max Senitt on drums and Ravi Naimpally on tabla.

Friday, June 28 | 2 PM | Esplanade Front Lawn | FREE Workshop with André Wickenheiser Quintet

(Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Some chairs will be on hand.)

Friday, June 28 | 7 PM | Esplanade Terrace

Kjetil Mulelid Trio/André Wickenheiser Quintet

Since its debut in 2017, the Kjetil Mulelid Trio has distinguished itself as one of Norway’s leading piano trios while playing the world’s nooks and crannies, and with two acclaimed follow-up albums in 2019 and 2022. The albums have made a strong impression and have been praised by media from around the world. Jazz Journal gave their last two albums 5/5 and stated, “the most captivating music we’ve heard in a long time.” The Wire thought the music was “magical”, Jazzwise thought it was “impressive.” Their third album Who Do You Love the Most?, has become a small hit on Spotify, and received tons of great reviews, like International Piano Magazine naming it “a beautiful and refreshing release”.

Indeed, this piano trio consists of some of Norway’s most exciting young jazz musicians, whose members are heavily involved in projects such as Norwegian Spellemann winners Morgonrode and nominee Wako among other projects from the creative milieu in Norway. In the trio though, the focus is pared back to the classic acoustic piano trio featuring, predominantly, Kjetil Mulelid’s beguiling compositions expertly balancing energetic, rhythmically complex and harmonically rich music with beautiful evocative melodies. While the trio incorporates that sense of calm, unhurried yet constantly unfolding sound world which is distinctively Scandinavian, Mulelid, in concert with bassist Rune Nergaard and drummer Andreas Winther, effortlessly conjure additional layers, tones and textures, based upon group improvisations, and informed, in large part, by each other’s diverse musical experiences.

André Wickenheiser is back with new material and a new band! André’s sound is all his own. Whether it’s the sound of his trumpet or his compositional style, it is immediately recognizable.

This Calgary based trumpeter began his musical studies at Mount Royal University where he completed an Artist Diploma in jazz performance. From there, he went on to finish both a bachelor’s degree, and a Masters Degree in jazz performance at McGill University in Montréal.

André is quickly making a name for himself as one of the top jazz trumpet players in Calgary and Alberta. He is an enthusiastic educator on the music faculty as a trumpet instructor at the University of Calgary, Ambrose University, and the Mount Royal Conservatory. You can find André performing with groups including the Canadian National Jazz Orchestra, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Esteban Hererra quintet/septet, and Volk.

Joining André are Sanah Kadoura on drums, Jon Day on piano, Daniel Nava on bass and Aaron Schorr on guitar.

Saturday, June 29 | 9 PM | Esplanade Terrace

Mary Ancheta

Keyboardist Mary Ancheta is a Canadian/Filipina artist who steps into the spotlight with her genre-bending organic, modern take on jazz and electro-funk. Inspired by the likes of Squarepusher, The Meters, John Scofield, and Prince, Ancheta knows what’s up when it comes to arresting melodies and irresistible grooves with Shaquille Headley on drums, Dominic Conway on sax and JeanSe Le Doujet on bass. Encompassing her experience in film scoring Ancheta seeks to tap into raw fuelled moments favouring grittiness over perfection.

Last summer they opened for BADBADNOTGOOD and played the Main Stage on Jazz Festivals from coast to coast. From Vancouver to Toronto, to the renowned Montréal Jazz Festival, and from Ottawa to Halifax. The Mary Ancheta Quartet have also played on bills alongside Herbie Hancock, Louis Cole Big Band, Ghost Note, George Benson, Domi & JD Beck, and more.

Sunday, June 25 |7:00 PM | Esplanade Terrace

PJ Perry Quintet Featuring Al Muirhead

PJ Perry has a long history with the Medicine Hat JazzFest, as does Calgary trumpet legend, Al Muirhead, and it is an honour to have these musicians closing JazzFest for us this year.

PJ has shared the stage with countless jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Pepper Adams, Kenny Wheeler, Tom Harrell, Rob McConnell, Slide Hampton, Herb Spanier, Bobby Shew, Fraser MacPherson, Tommy Banks, Joe LaBarbera, Clarence “Big” Miller, Red Rodney and many more talented artists, too numerous to list here. Recently, he was a featured soloist on the hit 2010 Broadway production of Come Fly Away, highlighting the songs of Frank Sinatra and the choreography of Twyla Tharpe.

In 2007, PJ was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta. In autumn of 1999, Justin Time Records released a JUNO-nominated recording of PJ and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. PJ Perry has become recognized by critics, colleagues and listeners as being one of North America’s premier saxophonists.

Winner of a 1993 JUNO Award for Best Jazz Recording for his album My Ideal, PJ has received Jazz Report magazine’s Critic’s Choice Award for Best Alto Sax for a record-breaking seven years; from 1993 to 1999.

In 2016, PJ Perry was awarded the Order of Canada by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

Trumpeter Al Muirhead has long been an iconic figure on the Canadian jazz scene. Muirhead has worked with legends such as Diana Krall, Paul Anka, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Mills and Dizzy Gillespie. In recent years, Al has been honoured with the American Federation of Musician’s Citation Award and the Western Canadian Music Alliance’s Heritage Award for his mentorship and industry-building. He’s also earned the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival’s Special Recognition Award, a YYC Music Award, a 2016 JUNO nomination, and has charted #1 in Canada and in the top 20 in the US.

Joining PJ and Al are Jim Head on guitar, Paul Johnston on bass and Jonathan McCaslin on drums.

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