Inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival presents a rare opportunity to hear celebrated jazz artists perform together in picturesque Niagara Region, and will include presentation of newly created Canadian Jazz Master Awards.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2017
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONTARIO – Niagara wine country will be filled with the sounds of jazz when the inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival takes place during the weekend of February 16 – 18, 2018. Spearheaded by Artistic Director, the 5-time JUNO Award-winning, celebrated jazz pianist Renee Rosnes, the world’s first (and only!) jazz festival bearing the name of Canada’s greatest jazz artist will honour and celebrate his legacy of excellence. “This Festival is not intended to simply present concerts in tribute to Oscar Peterson, but rather to truly present jazz, showcasing the rich history and the future of the music Oscar loved,” said Rosnes.
The Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival will showcase Canadian artists alongside artists of other nationalities, generating a diverse and vibrant repertoire. “This will be an exciting and celebratory weekend, with opportunity to hear great jazz musicians in intimate settings, all in the picturesque Niagara region,” said Christine Mori and Alexis Spieldenner of Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts, Executive Producers of the festival.
“We are thrilled to present multiple GRAMMY Award winners Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Greene, Michael Dease, Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Kenny Washington at the Festival’s sparkling all-star opening night event. It will be tremendous to hear these great artists perform together, and rare to have such talent appearing here in the Niagara region.” Saturday evening will bring a Gala affair to Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Double Portrait, the piano duo of the Festival’s Artistic Director Renee Rosnes and GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Bill Charlap. Mori continued, “The grand finale of the Festival will be another star-studded concert featuring Canadian artists Carol Welsman, Kevin Turcotte, Mike Murley, Robi Botos, Dave Young, and Jim Doxas.”
The 2018 Festival will be dedicated to Norman Granz, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. “Impresario, record producer, civil rights activist, and founder of Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz is arguably the most important non-musician in jazz history,” said Kelly Peterson, Artistic Producer of the festival. “The role that Norman played in presenting jazz cannot be underestimated. The role he played in breaking down racial barriers, however, was his proudest accomplishment.”
Jazz at the Philharmonic (“JATP” as it was known) was a series of all-star jam-session-style concerts that began in 1944 when Granz presented a concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. The first to present jazz in concert halls, giving it the same respect as classical music, he made it a contractual obligation for there to be no segregation in the concert venues, leading the charge against discrimination long before the Civil Rights Movement began. Granz himself said, “The whole reason for Jazz at the Philharmonic was to take it to places where I could break down segregation and discrimination.”
The Festival’s opening night concert will be reminiscent of those Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, and will take place at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines.
The historic 1792 St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake is the venue for screenings on Saturday afternoon of two documentaries produced by Granz (one of which, Jammin’ the Blues, was nominated for an Oscar), as well as a JATP concert film. Tad Hershorn, jazz archivist and Granz biographer, will moderate, along with Jacques Muyal, long-time associate of Granz.
The Festival concludes on Sunday at St. Mark’s with its grand finale, featuring the above-named CanadianJazz Lions in another JATP-style concert. “Once again, it’s an honour to present such tremendous talent, and to have these artists perform together here in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” said Mori.
CANADIAN JAZZ MASTER AWARDS
Sunday afternoon’s event will also feature the premiere presentation of the newly created Canadian Jazz Master Awards.
“The purpose of these awards is to celebrate and honour Canadian jazz musicians of the highest artistic excellence who are deserving of national recognition. Each year two awards will be presented, to one living and one past legend of Canadian jazz,” said Rosnes. “We believe it is time to recognize the great contributions Canadian artists have made to jazz music.”
Nominations are based on individuals who have reached the highest level of artistic excellence, and have made major contributions – through recordings and live performances – within the field of Canadian jazz. Nominees will be chosen and reviewed by a rotating advisory panel of jazz experts from across Canada whose recommendations will be compiled in a master list. The artists who receive the most votes by the panel, in each of the two categories, will be honoured with a Canadian Jazz Master Award. Recipients will be announced by Friday, January 19, 2018.
The Canadian Jazz Master Awards will be presented annually, under the auspices of the Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival.
Tickets will be available for sale on November 20. For further updates visit www.opjazzfest.org, and follow on social media:
The Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Presenting Sponsor TD Bank, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario. This event has also been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.