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A Sneak Peek at the 2024 Vancouver International Jazz Festival 

The 39th edition features jazz greats, hip-hop heavyweights, and endless opportunities to learn and engage. 

by Michelle Cavaleri

The 2024 Vancouver International Jazz Festival returns this summer with an eclectic lineup sure to excite a wide variety of jazz cats on the west coast. Whether you’re eager to discover the fresh sounds of emerging jazz talents destined for greatness or planning to check out some of the cross-genre fare – this year’s lineup places a stronger focus on hip-hop than usual, for example – this festival promises to cater to all musical tastes. Running June 21 to 30, here’s a sneak peek at a handful of  the immaculate programming that awaits you, so that you can make the most of your week.

Marquee Artist Presentation

The bond between jazz music and hip-hop runs deep, intertwining through shared elements like improvisation and social commentary. This connection comes to life as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival proudly injects some hip-hop flair to its esteemed lineup, with acts like Odario and Kassa Overall taking the stage. Mark your calendars for June 29, when Grammy award-winning rapper, advocate, and entrepreneur Killer Mike brings his Midnight Revival gospel choir to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre — TICKETS & INFO

Killer Mike (Photo: Shane Smith)

Granville Island Jazz Programming

From June 22 to 29, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival will be showcasing six remarkable artists at the Granville Jazz Programming at Performance Works series, each one making notable waves in the jazz scene. Kicking off the series is the avant-garde ensemble Irreversible Entanglements, a fusion of free jazz and experimental punk led by Camae Ayewa, whose narratives explore themes of Black trauma, resilience, and empowerment. Also gracing the lineup is the instrumental art rock collective The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis.

Irreversible Entanglements (Photo: Piper Ferguson)


For Those Who Like Their Jazz Extra Heavy

Jazz creeps its way into many genres, and often the complicated scales and time signatures found in heavier music rival some of the greatest traditional compositions within the genre. For those who like their music heavy and perhaps even mathematical, look no further than metal titans Sumac. The American/Canadian post-metal supergroup formed in 2014 and features the Dave Grohl-approved Vancouver-based drummer Nick Yasyshyn who keeps the beat steady and punishingly heavy. Sumac released their debut album The Deal through Profound Lore Records in 2015. Their latest single, “Yellow Dawn,” will certainly add some colour to even the most adventuresome listener’s music palette 

Sumac (Photo: Reid Haithcock)

Innovation Series Returns at the Revue Stage

From June 26 to 30, immerse yourself in the Innovation Series, boasting over 10 captivating performances that showcase dynamic ensemble collaborations and mesmerizing improvisations, delivered by sought-after musicians from around the world. Among the featured artists is the incomparable Robin Holcomb, joined by some of Vancouver’s best improv virtuosos, bassist Torsten Müller and drummer Dylan van der Schyff. Each day offers a 5:00pm “pay what you can” show, followed by a ticketed event at 9:30pm, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy — TICKETS  & INFO

Robin Holcomb

Youth Performances & the Vancouver Youth Jazz Orchestra 

Eager to be the one who can proudly say, “I saw them live before they hit it big”? The Vancouver International Jazz Festival has your back. On June 28th, make sure to catch The New Improvisers Studio, who will be featuring 12 young musicians aged 17 to 24 in a week-long workshop that focuses on building on their improvisation skills – a key asset in the world of jazz. 

Want more opportunities to witness young up-and-coming jazz musicians? From June 22 to 23, you can check out the Anthem Sounds of Youth Stage, spotlighting some of the finest high school bands from the Lower Mainland. And if that’s not enough for you, the Vancouver Youth Jazz Orchestra is presenting a new opportunity to high school students to participate in a mentorship program with renowned musicians such as VYJO bandleader Brent Taylor, trumpet mentor Geeta Das, and sax mentor Ingrid Sitt, to name a few! The final performance will take place on June 30. 


The Vancouver International Jazz Festival runs June 21 to 30

Check out coastaljazz.ca for the full festival program and ticket information