On May 25, a large group of musicians assembled on the stage of the Eric Harvie Theatre, surrounded by music stands and a sizeable array of percussion equipment. At far stage right, the bassist, vocalist, and Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding watched as they arranged themselves at the front of the stage with their instruments, then introduced them. She sang a few bars of the first song with them before quietly stepping back into the wings and the 11 musicians carried on with the first piece.
Later, Spalding would be back on stage with two accompanists, pianist Leo Genevese and percussionist Francisco Mela, and later with musicians including flutist Nicole Mitchell, trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith, and pianist Vijay Iyer. Audiences at the following Saturday concert would have seen Iyer onstage with another group of jazz greats, including percussionist Dafnis Prieto, bassist Linda Oh, and vocalist Theo Bleckmann.
These were the first in a series of three mainstage concerts, featuring everyone involved in the 2013 Banff International Jazz and Creative Workshop, in its first year under the directorship of Vijay Iyer, after ten years led by trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas. The concerts, a mix of emerging and established musicians, participants and faculty, bright, Cuban-inflected beats and outthere experimental sounds, underscore everything the workshop is trying to achieve. Continue Reading →