Jazz Festival a Resounding Success

Matthew LafontaineDowntown Guelph, Special Events

If you didn’t get downtown this weekend for any of the Guelph Jazz Festival, it’s beyond unfortunate. The 5 day event was jam-packed with high class talent from around the world. I was fortunate enough to take in a great show during Nuit Blanche, the Saturday night 7-7 marathon of every jazz variety. The concert at the River Run Centre featured Abdullah Ibrahim, a South African pianist with incredible talent and a tremendous story of his struggle for freedom. It was his only Canadian stop, and it is events of that calibre which help maintain the Guelph festival’s illustrious reputation.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the festival, although the scale of the event may be in question. With Nuit Blanche, the marquee event, up in the air for next year’s show, organizers will face a number of challenges to ensure the 20th year is the best Guelph has seen. If they do as well next year as they did this time around, Guelph will certainly be in for a treat!

Check out this article in the Guelph Mercury for a further recap:

As the sun sets on this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival, organizers turn their eyes to next year — the 20th

Joanne Shuttleworth, Guelph Mercury (September 10, 2012)

GUELPH — Those who attended the Guelph Jazz Festival’s Nuit Blanche event overnight Saturday needed to bring a parapluie — and an umbrella was certainly needed for the free Jazz in Market Square events that ran throughout the day Saturday as well.

But there were some rain-free moments Saturday, and music lovers flocked to Market Square for the free concerts going on there.

Heavy rain pushed back some of the performances as organizers moved the stage from the water feature outside city hall to the shelter of the overhang by the front doors, and merchants put up tents to protect themselves from the weather.

But by 4 p.m. it was the glaring sun that became the issue — and that was not such a bad issue to have, said J.J. McMurtry, president of the Guelph Jazz Festival’s board of directors.

“The mood and the energy is fantastic,” he said. “Whatever the weather, there’s a buzz around this festival. The acts have been fabulous.”

McMurtry said most of the ticketed shows were sold out and he met many visitors who had come to Guelph from other countries for the rare and unique programming the jazz festival continues to offer.

He was looking forward to Abdullah Ibrahim’s concert at the River Run Centre Saturday night, but the film about Ibrahim and his struggle for freedom from apartheid, A Brother with Perfect Timing, played twice at 10 Carden St. during Nuit Blanche.

Across the street in Market Square there were performances by Shye Ben-Tzur, the Shuffle Demons and that wacky CFRU silent dance party. But that wasn’t all. There were 70 different Nuit Blanche projects all over the city.

But Nuit Blanche only had funding for three years, McMurtry said, “so this may be the last one.”

And a concerted fundraising effort is already underway for next year, the 20th anniversary of the Guelph Jazz Festival, that organizers hope will be both retrospective and forward-thinking.

In the meantime, McMurtry thanked the city for encouraging the jazz tent to return to Market Square, and all the sponsors for their ongoing support.

“There’s a village feel to it, but the Guelph Jazz Festival is a world class event,” he said.