Summer festival guide: Halifax Jazz Festival

Where: Halifax, N.S.
When: July 8-12

What it is: In the past, the Halifax Jazz Festival has taken place across the city over the span of more than a week. For the first time, it’s a robust and more manageable five-day festival. The festival caters to a variety of age demographics and draws from a wide range of jazz sub-genres. There are free daytime shows that ensure everybody can take in a show or two. For the night owls out there, late night jazz returns to the Company House.

Eats: There are lots of food options on site at the main festival tent on the waterfront. Between the food trucks/tents and the Garrison beer available on site (they usually make a special brew just for the festival), it’s easy to satisfy your palate while treating your ears.

Headliners: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Tune Yards, Jaun de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All Stars, The Budos Band. For the full lineup, check out the Jazzfest website.

Mix Pick: Jazz music isn’t necessarily an area of expertise for the Mixtape staff. Festivals such as the Jazzfest are a good chance for us to explore genres out of our comfort zone and check out artists otherwise we would never see.

A favourite from last year is The New Bridge, a supergroup featuring distinguished musicians in the Halifax scene including members of Gypsophilia and Symphony Nova Scotia clarinetist Dominic Desautels. With this project, Desautels steps out of his usual classical background, a genre based around perfect execution of music, and into a free-flowing improvisational setting. Along with playing a variety of instruments, Ross Burns (Gypsophiilia) takes on the role of emcee, entertaining and guiding the audience through the experience. Last year they played late night jazz but will be in a different setting this year, playing the main stage outdoors in the afternoon. It’s bound to be a good show. They’re also competing for the Stingray Rising Stars award, a prize that gives a local up-and-coming band $3,000.

Check out The New Bridge at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, July 11 at the Main Stage.

Mix Tip: Artists such as Tune Yards tend to appeal to a younger audience. Artists such as Julien Priester bring in an older audience. Everyone gets to experience the same music and must share the same space, whether standing, sitting or dancing. Being respectful and open-minded at any festival, especially one as diverse as Halifax Jazz Festival, is a no-brainer.

Photo: Jonathan Briggins/Mixtape Magazine