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10 artists to catch at this year’s Vancouver Jazz Fest and make yourself seem more cultured

With 1,800 artists, 300 performances, 35 venues and more than 150 free shows, Vancouver's Jazz Fest is a lot to navigate. So here are a few ear-bending performances to put on your radar and help you in journey to become a better you.

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Fest is not only a buffet sonic delights for music aficionados to sink their sharpened teeth into, June 21 to July 1, it’s also a chance for non-music aficionados to claim they like jazz and thus seem more cultured and interesting in the ongoing mating dance of life. But with 1,800 artists, 300 performances, 35 venues and more than 150 free shows, it’s a lot to navigate. So here are a few ear-bending performances to put on your radar and help you in journey to become a better you.

The Comet Is Coming

 The Comet is ComingThe Comet is Coming

The name conjures up what we’ll probably yell during the ensuing apocalypse, but these London-based musical cosmonauts are really a glimpse into the future with their spacy algorithm of jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic rock — reaffirming that space is indeed the place.

June 21, 9 p.m. at the Imperial

Wu-Tang Clan

 Wu-Tang ClanWu-Tang Clan

Kicking down the doors of hip hop 25 years ago with their martial arts-informed opus Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Clan were larger than life from the outset. There’s a lot of them and they’ll need to be reckoned with when they fill the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage.

June 23, 8 p.m. at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre



Singing in three languages, the Montreal-based Inuk singer, film director and activist uses English to explore folk, French for more romantic writing and Inuktitut to speak about Indigenous culture. Throw in some ’70s rock, Indigenous folk music and the moody cool of Tom Waits and Morphine and you’ve got a sure-to-be enchanting show.

June 23, 8 p.m. at Performance Works  

Antonio Sánchez & Migration

With a resume that speaks volumes, this five-time Grammy award-winning drummer and composer of the score of 2014’s Oscar-winning film Birdman, flaps his wings with his quintet Migration for an electro-acoustic journey.

June 26. 8 p.m. at CapU

Davina and the Vagabonds

 Davina and the VagabondsDavina and the Vagabonds

Drawing comparisons to Etta James, Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday, Davina and the Vagabonds are sure to please with their retro-infused gumbo of New Orleans jazz, Memphis soul and gospel.

June 28, 8 p.m. at Performance Works

The Roots

 The RootsThe Roots

Most people might know them as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’s house band, but the Roots have a long and prolific career pushing the boundaries of hip hop with a live show that’s not to be missed.

June 28 8 p.m. at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Brian Jackson Plays Songs from the Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson Songbook

 Brian JacksonBrian Jackson

Keyboard player and flutist Brian Jackson was a big part of the soulful jazz soundtracks that backed many of the spoken word masterpieces by late poet Gil Scott-Heron, most notably “The Bottle.” Jackson pays homage to his frequent collaborator and continues his legacy with this latest project.

June 29, 8 p.m. at Performance Works

Herbie Hancock

 Herbie HancockHerbie Hancock

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer jazz legends left, but Herbie Hancock is one of them. Catch the continually evolving pianist/keyboardist and composer with his quartet.

June 29, 8 p.m. at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

We Just Stole a Car

This local shape-shifting super group featuring members of Malleus Trio, Jo Passed, Only a Visitor and Freak Dream is an enjoyable free-for-all, with bursts of improvisation, modern composition and Indonesian gamelan music.

June 29, noon, main stage of David Lam Park

Blick Bassy

 Blick BassyBlick Bassy

The Cameroon-born, Paris-based guitarist/vocalist combines African traditions, bossa nova, blues and politics. A potent and entertaining mix.

June 29, 5:15 p.m., main stage of David Lam Park

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