Alex Pangman isn’t the only jazz-singing Alex in town. A recent graduate of Humber College, jazz/pop/funk vocalist Alex Tait is a versatile musician and luminous composer with many influences ranging from Jaco Pastorius to Björk Guðmundsdóttir. Be sure to check out Miss Tait’s Toronto Jazz Festival debut on July 2 at Ten Feet Tall 9pm-midnight, with three aces accompanying: Ted Quinlan on guitar, Roberto Occhipinti on bass and Ethan Ardelli on drums. Pay-what-you-can, limited seating, reservations recommended. (www.tenfeettall.ca)
Yet another sensational singer by the same first name is Alex Samaras, a young musician taking the scene by storm with his impeccable taste, flawless technique and penchant for challenging material. Friday July 9 at Gate 403 5-8pm he will be singing songs by Stephen Sondheim, specifically “Sweeney Todd & Beyond” with Ernesto Cervini on drums, Bram Gielen on bass and Tyson Kerr on piano. (www.gate403.com)
An experimenter in everything from blues to hip hop, vocalist-composer Rita di Ghent has recently assembled Rita and her Jump & Soul Seven, an irresistibly exuberant slice of old-school, with guitarist/arranger Martin Loomer, Bob Brough on tenor, Bobby Hsu on alto, Brendan Davis on bass, Don Laws on trombone, Jake Wilkinson on trumpet and Drew Austin on drums. Don’t miss ‘em Tuesday July 13 at The Reservoir Lounge 7-9pm. (www.reservoirlounge.com)
For some contemporary instrumental jazz with an edge, check out up-and-coming reedman Jeff LaRochelle, a Humber College student with a bold tone on the horn. His group is playing Tequila Bookworm on Saturday July 31 from 9pm-midnight. The quintet: LaRochelle on clarinet and tenor saxophone, Sabine Ndalamba on guitar, Bora Lim on keys, Julian Anderson-Bowes on acoustic bass and Eric West on drums. (tequilabookworm.blogspot.com)
Not so much a jazzer as a fiercely free improviser, another young musician to listen for is pianist Avesta Nakhaei. A proud member of the Association of Improvising Musicians in Toronto, the York University music grad approaches music with an astounding effortlessness and endless imagination. He performs at The Tranzac on Saturday August 7 from 6:30-8:30pm. (www.tranzac.org)
Great news for Danforth jazz fans! Now in its second year, the “Mosaic Does Jazz in the Park” festival will spotlight the diversity of the jazz genre throughout the summer, every Wednesday, July 7-September 1 inclusive, rain or shine, from 6-9pm in the Robertson Parkette, just west of Coxwell Avenue. This free event is open to all local residents as well as jazz enthusiasts from across Toronto. Everyone is encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket, and vendors from local businesses will be on-hand to provide food and refreshments to the listening audience. Acts in the series include Rick Lazar’s Samba Squad, Heather Bambrick and Jane Bunnett; and do not miss the rarely heard treat that is Michael Danso (www.michaeldanso.com), a spectacular vocalist and irresistible entertainer, appearing on Wednesday August 11 from 6-9pm at the Mosaic Does Jazz in the Park Festival.
Not only will it be a full moon, but a “Political Party” when JAZZ.FM91 on-air host and man-about-town Jaymz Bee will host an event on Tuesday August 24 at the Old Mill Inn that takes place in eight different rooms! The Dining Room and Home Smith Bar will feature jazz, and other rooms will showcase folk, avante-garde, com-