Five must-see acts at this weekend’s Kensington Market Jazz Festival

Five must-see acts at this weekend’s Kensington Market Jazz Festival

Molly Johnson wants us to know two things about the Kensington Market Jazz Festival: “It’s cash only, and we’re not touching no money.” This weekend, nine of the market’s bars will become performance spaces for more than 100 Canadian artists, and festival founder Johnson says that every dollar taken at the doors goes directly to the artists.

Johnson, a jazzy, Juno-winning singer-songwriter who also used to program MuchMusic’s Kumbaya Festivals, has been planning for the fest since April, and the end result will be a mix of films, performances and photography. There are so many acts in the lineup that it might as well be a jazz-heavy Bonnaroo. “I just wanted to shine a big fat light on something great,” says Johnson, “this neighbourhood, which constantly changes but is always the same, and the music community that I love.” Here are some of the festival’s can’t-miss performers:

Sophie Milman

Where: The Round, 152 Augusta Ave.,
When: Saturday, September 17
PRICE: Tickets are $25 at the door.

At the start of her career, Juno-award winning Sophie Milman outran the predictable comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to firmly establish her own unique sound. Plunky, spunky and slightly experimental, Milman’s jazz stylings put a new spin on the classic lady-sings-the-blues genre.

Jim Cuddy

Where: Handlebar, 159 Augusta Ave.,
When: Friday, September 16.
PRICE: Donations at the door. All cash and cheques are channeled directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada.

It’s been a while since Blue Rodeo’s frontman has given us a new album, but that’s because the musician has been busy doling out live performances all over Canada. At the jazz fest, Cuddy will muster the twangy, jangle-rock folk sound he’s been honing since 1978.

Measha Brueggergosman

Where: Handle bar, 159 Augusta Ave.,
When: Saturday, September 17.
You should know: Cash donations at the door. All funds go to the Boys & Girls Club of Canada.

Brueggergosman is a soulful, exuberant soprano who’s as comfortable delivering a Verdi aria as she is at performing a Joni Mitchell song. She’s recently been invested in exploring her African musical heritage and performing contemporary covers of old spirituals, which can only mean that any performance in an intimate setting is guaranteed to inspire awe.

Quincy Bullen Trio

Where: Poetry Jazz Cafe, 224 Augusta Ave.,
When: Sunday, September 18.
PRICE: Tickets are $10 at the door.

Quincy Bullen is known for an impeccable sense of musical timing and a style that infuses the pulse of the Caribbean into old-fashioned jazz standards. Bullen’s been known to DJ and enjoy electronic music as well, but chances are that his Sunday set will reflect his roots of pure, unadulterated jazz-funk—with a hint of whimsy.

Jane Bunnett

Where: The Boat, 158 Augusta Ave.,
When: Sunday, September 18.
PRICE: Tickets are $20 at the door.

The Juno-winning saxophonist has a musical intuition that allows her to effortlessly create invigorating, original Afro-Cuban melodies. She’s a frequent traveller to Cuba, so we hope that Bunnett will bring some light-hearted Cubano spice to the festival this weekend.