Four Toronto jazz projects win support from TD Discovery Series

Four projects by Toronto jazz artists are receiving additional support for their work after being chosen as the latest winners of the TD Discovery Series Special Projects.

The initiative provides a bursary along with marketing and public relations support to artists whose special projects “demonstrate a particular passion and vibrancy.” Now in its 10th year, the initiative is spearheaded by Toronto Downtown Jazz, producers of the annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

The four winners are the Dennis Kwok Jazz Orchestra (DKJO), Pete Johnston’s See Through 4, Lenka Lichtenberg and Donnybrook with Ian Hendrickson-Smith.

Formed in 2017 by bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Dennis Kwok (a recent participant in JAZZ.FM91’s Jazzology program), the DKJO is a contemporary big band that showcases new works by the next generation of jazz composers. The group comprises 19 of southern Ontario’s finest performers under 35. This spring, the DKJO will release its debut album Windward Boundand will also present the world premiere of a five-movement suite by saxophonist and composer Brenden Varty.

Soul-jazz trio Donnybrook has teamed up with world-renowned saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith for a special performance of original music at the Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Club.

See Through 4

Juno Award-winning bassist and composer Pete Johnston’s new project See Through 4 will release an album called False Ghosts, Minor Fearswith a concert at the Array Space to mark the occasion. Featuring Johnston along with saxophonist Karen Ng, pianist Marilyn Lerner and drummer Nick Fraser, this collaboration blends intricate, contrapuntal compositions with inventive improvisation, incorporating concepts from electronic music, progressive rock and free jazz.

Originally envisioned as a concert and recording, Lenka Lichtenberg’s The Thieves of Dreams has now taken shape as a stage production directed by Leah Cherniak. The work combines several different genres of expression into a theatre concert that features music, spoken word, movement, sound art, improvisation, audience participation, visual art and projections. At the core of the production are recently found poems of Lichtenberg’s grandmother, Anna Hana Friesova.

Lenka Lichtenberg

The TD Discovery Series Special Projects initiative encourages the creation, development and presentation of new material among Toronto musicians.

“Each year, the Special Projects reflect the outstanding creativity of Toronto’s jazz musicians,” said artistic director Josh Grossman. “Premiering new works, CD releases, international collaborations… These four projects demonstrate the exciting variety with which local jazz musicians — artists at various stages of their careers — approach their craft.”

The submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges that included Colin Storey, a guitarist and WholeNote contributor; Steven Taetz, a singer and the music manager at Harbourfront Centre; and Gili Zemer, a percussionist and the owner-director of the multi-purpose venue Geary Lane.

Here is a list of the four special performances: