TOP 5's

We asked some of Winnipeg’s most notable characters which five artists they’re most excited to see at the 2019 TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival. Here are the performers they’re looking forward to:




Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Gotta list the show we’re presenting. Polaris short listers last year with a vital and urgent new album and blistering live show.

I mean, c’mon.

Colin Linden
A most valuable player and Polaris nominee via his work in Blackie & the Rodeo Kings.

Royal Canoe
Carrying the torch for great Winnipeg “canoe” bands, like Grand Theft Canoe.

Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band
Drums not so much played but felt.


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Makaya McCraven
Makaya McCraven's album, In the Moment, from 2015, has been on heavy rotation for me for a few years. I find his beats to be so intelligently composed and layered I catch myself smiling with delight at various points throughout any song.

The Comet is Coming
When the compilation We Out Here, was released in 2018, I became completely amazed by what was happening in the London Jazz scene. Shabaka Hutchings has an arresting track on that compilation which lead me to seek out another of his projects, the Comet Is Coming. Simply put, I'm thankful to Jazz Winnipeg that they are saving me a trip to London. This is going to be a wild party. The lineup of this free show is one for the history books.

Jakob Bro Trio
After seeing this group at the Good Will last year, it would simply be a mistake to miss another opportunity to see Joey Baron manipulate a drum set in such an innovative and elegant manner. I love the quiet surprises that this trio injects within their melodic and ambient approach.

The Malleus Trio
As someone who easily gets stuck in musical ruts (tunnel vision obsessions), I love that Jazz Fest has the ability to always introduce me to new music. In sampling the offering of this year's lineup, the energetic and inventive Malleus Trio definitely stood out to me. 

Shpik is another group I hadn't heard of before, but as soon as the piano and drums kicked in on the first track of their album Fabulation, I was instantly a fan. I can't help but think of this group as a Canadian relative of E.S.T. / Gogo Penguin.


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The Comet is Coming
I had this band on the radar since someone played me some Sons of Kemet at my annual top ten albums party a few years back. I’m a big fan of artists smashing their jazz chops into fat hip-hop beats. Their latest album Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery is a contender for one of my faves of 2019 so far (and what a great title!) This show is gonna be a psyche-groovy party to cap off the fest.

Donny McCaslin
As if the Sunday night at Old Market Square couldn’t get any better. Donny and his band were part of David Bowie’s Blackstar. And that album ranks (for me) among Bowie’s top three. What artist’s last album is THAT good? Well, McCaslin and co.’s blend of big beats, dark brooding moods and sax freakouts had a big part in making it happen. His solo stuff mines some similar territory but with his own epic spin.

Noname has put out two of my most played records in the last three years. Best wordsmith in music right now, in my opinion. Speaking truth about police corruption and violence, feminism, racism and the general state of her hometown Chicago – all with a clever wit and poetry that can evoke fits of rage, knowing smirks and deep tears, sometimes in the same song.

Living Hour
Their album release at the West End Cultural Centre was a beautiful wash of sounds. It felt like the guitars were surrounding me and hugging my ears. Just a breathtaking show. I can only imagine that seeing them at the intimate RAW spot during the festival is going to be a special vibe and a local show to remember.

Yeah, this is biased. But I’m super excited to play this show. Royal Canoe have been brewing music with the 3Peat guys on and off over the last year. These sessions have been super refreshing creatively and it’s been a pleasure and inspiration to watch them work and work together. The excitement has been contagious as we feed off each other’s strengths and the songs are teeming with joy. You can literally hear us smiling in the recordings. Can’t wait to share!


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Colin Linden
Years ago I met a young Colin Linden when he crawled into a tent at the Folk Fest clutching his guitar to watch some old TV kinescopes of blues guitarist Rev. Gary Davis. I remember his big grin and huge enthusiasm. A master slide guitarist and producer, Colin's expert picking landed him work with Bob Dylan, Rosanne Cash, Bruce Cockburn, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Enough said.

 Living Hour
Now legendary, Living Hour's time has arrived. After five U.S. tours with gigs in Europe and the U.K., their constant touring has sharpened their chops. As psychedelic guitars float down from heaven, Sam Sarty's dreamy singing emerges through the mist and smoke leading the band into greatness. Playing on Friday, June 21, they are also slated for two great double bills – one with Dave Quanbury and the other with Veneer with their fantastic harmonies. Don't get your hair wet.

Woody Holler
Woody Holler has teamed up with some of Winnipeg’s finest jazz musicians for some great western swing. And Woody himself is like a dusty wind blown in from the prairie. I heard the band once and was struck by the high level of musicianship. Daniel Koulack is a fantastic musician – a great string bassist and banjo player. Jeremy Penner has played with many bands including the Wailin' Jennys and Scruj MacDuhk. And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the ghost of guitarist Greg Lowe.

The Bridge Performance Academy
One of the shows I most look forward to is The Bridge Performance Academy, whose student members hail from Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Canada, Syria, Iraq, the Philippines, Nepal & Tibet. They perform at street festivals and communities throughout Winnipeg. Music is a secret we all share – these kids are the vision of the future.

Rio Mira
If you want to hear music that soars check out Rio Mira's Adios Morena on youtube or Jazz Fest's website. Fronted by singer Karla Kanora the name Rio Morena comes from the river that runs from Ecuador into Colombia. Their sound is driven by the marimba which has its roots in Africa. Intoxicating.



I go crazy for powerful storytellers who have powerful stories to tell. Common has won all of the awards and the acclaim and still manages to keep activism and social justice at the forefront of his life. He's a huge get for Jazz Fest and people will love his show.

Noname w/ Royal Canoe and 3Peat (R3CPO)
I know much less about Noname than I do Common but we'll keep it Chicago-rooted for my second most exciting show. She's a poet, she's worked with Chance the Rapper and she was hand-picked by Ms. Lauryn Hill to open for her in 2018. That world class resume would be good enough but she's playing with Royal Canoe and 3Peat who have been destroying Winnipeg's local scene for forever– that makes this show too good to miss.

I first saw Rayannah play at a tiny show at the University of Manitoba and, since then, I have made a point of simply not missing her shows. She has all of the stage presence, the songwriting chops, and the technical skills with her loop pedals and audio effects to work a crowd and – more personally – "Best of You" and "Tivoli" off her 2019 album Nos Repaires (Our Haunts) both just floor me.

I feel like ‘90s male music was about dealing with angst, ‘00s male music was about discovering emotions, and if I get my wish, this decade of male music will be about having emotions but also knowing what to do with them. For me, Boniface represents a great hope and one more entry in Winnipeg's soft but brilliantly spoken tradition of knowing just what simple thing to say that will make a listener feel something powerful. AND they're fun! Go, just go.

Makaya McCraven
Every festival I go to, I try to pick an artist I have zero familiarity with and just deep dive their back story in a half-blind attempt to choose a new favourite. When I read Sean McManus call McCraven's music "an exciting collision of jazz and hip-hop production that feels thrilling and authentic", I made up my mind: McCraven is new to me but someone I must listen to. 



Cécile McLorin Salvant
Unsurprisingly, Cécile is at the top of my list. It's one thing to hear this incredible artist on an album, but it's a whole other thing to experience her talent in person. She truly knows jazz inside-out and honours the lineage of incredible vocalists who came before her every time she sings, while still pushing the genre forward. She is truly mesmerizing and as a bonus, always comes with an incredible band!

Jakob Bro Trio
Jakob was here a few months back and we had an opportunity to connect with him personally and hear him live. It takes no time at all to get a feel for what a down-to-earth, sincere, good-hearted person he is, and his music feels like such a natural extension of that. The music really draws you in as a listener and each piece develops in such an organic way. The trio communicates so well and what results feels like magic.

To be fair, I'm biased here as SIRINTIP and I did our masters together in New York City. On the flipside, that means I can personally vouch for her raw talent and overwhelming creativity. Her jazz roots influence her incredible writing and arranging, and her use of pedals and effects with her vocals tastefully enhance her art. She's very engaging and always puts on a good show!

Bobby McFerrin
Talk about a master of his instrument! One of the really incredible things about Bobby McFerrin is how, despite the fact that he's clearly worked his whole life to become as brilliant at using his voice as he has, he makes it seem so effortless – so human – like any of us could do it. The fact that his body is his instrument somehow unites people and I find that so inspiring. It's just him working hard to do incredible things with what he's got, and in that sense, that's something we can all do. 

Curtis Nowosad Quartet
Again, there's undoubtedly some bias here because of his Winnipeg roots, but nonetheless, Curtis is really doing great things. His talent was undeniable even when he was just getting started here in Winnipeg, but what I love even more than just his musical ability is what he's doing with it. Jazz has always been an art form that speaks out for social justice issues and Curtis has both taken the time to really learn the history of the art as well as the history and current state of the issues he's engaging with. So proud to have someone with this kind of ability and character representing Winnipeg in New York and beyond.


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As a long-time hip-hop fan and social justice activist, Common represents for me what hip-hop is all about – killer rhymes and beats and conscious lyrics that make you reflect on issues that we face as a community and society as a whole. He is one of those artists I never thought would come our fair city; having the chance to see him live is like a dream come true.

New Orleans funk with some African rhythms and hip-hop thrown in – it’s impossible to put a label on them except to say they are funky, groovy, colossally fabulous and definitely not to be missed! I know I won’t!

Young and fresh, lyrical and poetic, it’s so refreshing to hear young female voices in hip-hop – her flow reminds me of Bahamadia, her artistic voice is conscious, colourful, bright and uniquely her own.

Curtis Nowosad Quartet
I’ve been following Curtis since he was doing his Bachelor of Jazz Studies at the University of Manitoba. His talents seem to grow exceedingly with each album. I’m looking forward to seeing him perform and hearing how his musical voice has evolved since his last album.

Cécile McLorin Salvant
Expressive, soulful, a jazz vocalist who channels Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, she’s got a voice that will leave you in wonder. I’m excited that she’s coming back to Winnipeg!



R&B Electronic band that has been nominated for many awards. They bring their own fusion style and are great.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids
They keep getting better. They combine their politics and heritage while putting on a kick ass show.

Sarah MacDougall
Constantly on the road her honest and poetic songs, passionate performances, guitar chops and unique voice. She is one to watch out for.

Apollo Suns and Efflo
Two of Winnipeg’s best bands. One will have you dancing with their jazz based psychedelic dance music and the other will have you dancing to their death pop.

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Growing up, I was a huge fan of Lauryn Hill. Finding strong women in hip-hop that mix spoken word, poetry and rap isn’t the most common thing in a fairly male-dominant genre. Noname has a graceful and smooth way of presenting her art that brings me back to my younger days grooving to Lauryn Hill and Salt-N-Pepa.

Community passionate arts activist Common is an artist that I’m very much looking forward to experiencing. I know by attending this concert, many patrons will leave feeling passionate to help their communities and make a change where they live. I haven’t been familiar with his music until recently, but his mix of thoughtful lyrics and euphonic loops and melodies will make this an inspiring show.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Challenging Indigenous stereotypes, Snotty Nose Rez Kids have been garnering attention especially over the last couple years. The way they present new knowledge and their stories to their fans is a richly inspiring art form which I’m grateful to finally experience.

Donny McCaslin
Being a long time David Bowie fan, hearing what Donny McCaslin was capable of on Bowie’s Blackstar gave me a new appreciation for what can be done with the saxophone. McCaslin takes a somewhat dirty and unique approach to the jazz I’ve always known and brings it to a whole new level for me.

Sebastian Gaskin
The last while I’ve been hearing a lot about Sebastian Gaskin’s soul and R&B-driven music. Much talked about after his Festival Du Voyageur performance, Gaskin is someone who I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to see live. (He’ll be opening up for Common.)

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Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band
One of the most memorable times I saw Brian Blade was at the Winter Garden in Toronto with the Daniel Lanois band. I love his jazz playing, but his work with Lanois on Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball and Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind helped create a sound that redefined modern Americana music. He did it again 15 years later with Iron and Wine’s Ghost on Ghost and Laura Veirs’ Warp and Weft.

Joshua Redman Quartet
As a kid studying tenor saxophone in the ‘90s, Josh Redman was a saxophone hero. He played effortlessly and blended classic and modern jazz soulfully. I started driving in from Brandon to attend the Winnipeg Jazz Festival in high school. My first festival was Sonny Rollins. The second was Joshua Redman.

Donny McCaslin
Whoa, I picked another saxophone player. Donny’s early 2000s record Soar was on constant rotation in my house. I came back for Beyond Now, the project inspired by his work with David Bowie, and that show at the 2017 TD Jazz Winnipeg International Festival was a total highlight.

Makaya McCraven
I was just very excited about last year’s Universal Beings and what it says about the evolution of jazz. Makaya is so fresh and I love this version of the future of jazz. The record is an exciting collision of jazz and hip-hop production in a way that to me feels thrilling and authentic. I can’t wait to see him live.

Curtis Nowosad Quartet
I’ve had the great privilege to know Curtis for many years and I’m so happy to see him back at the festival as a visiting artist. I guess he lives in some town called New York now? Curtis is a dedicated musician and a great person.

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Saul Williams
Talent in every pore. I’m not sure what to expect of this performance, but a man with this much depth must be experienced. I can’t WAIT. I’ll see him again at Interstellar Rodeo in Edmonton, then I’ll find him again after that.

Sarah McDougall
I first saw Sarah at a late late show in Brighton on the last day of a long weekend of music festivaling. Sarah’s songs are stunning and her voice mystical. Every tired person in that packed room perked right up – she had me for the whole set and I wanted more.

As much as I adore Common’s music, what excites me most about this show is connecting with Common the force. His message and his crucial social justice work inspire me – this is more than just entertainment, it’s what art should be. 

DJ Shub
I loved Shub with A Tribe Called Red, and I love him even more now. This show is gonna light up Old Market Square.  I call this as the funnest, most energetic of the festival.

Noname w/ RC3PO
While yes, I’m excited about Noname, this Royal Canoe x 3Peat collaboration is gonna be so fun. I’ve long been fans of both these local bands – they both easily stand up as among the best this Jazz Festival has to offer.


I saw them once at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in front of 10,000 roaring fans. Later that evening I walked into a half empty club on Frenchman Street at around midnight with no more than 100 people in it and Stanton Moore (Galactic’s drummer) was playing his second gig of the day. Now that’s hustling!

Loved her on Tiny Desk.

Colin Linden
A true CanCon vet!

Makaya McCraven
A new discovery. I like what I’ve been hearing. The guitarist has tasty tone. Should be a cool live show!

Jérémie and the Delicious Hounds
The pride of St. Boniface! Happy to see them in this year’s Jazz Fest lineup.


Brian Blade & The Fellowship
I have loved his playing ever since I saw him perform at the first Jazz Festival in 1990.

Joshua Redman Quartet
One of the best living saxophone players. He played the Jazz Festival in 1994.

I love how they meld so many styles of music together but still maintain a distinct New Orleans vibe. 

Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
It is always a treat to see some of the best local musicians performing together in this well-rehearsed and tight band. 

Colin Linden
If you are a fan of great guitar playing this is the guy to see.


I got into Noname from her album Telefone. I love the laidback, jazzy instrumentals, and her wordplay and humour is on a different level. Soulful and beautiful, I kept following along for her new one, Room 25, which is another absolute piece of art. She's still independent, and proud, and that is an inspiration to me.

The Comet is Coming
Shabaka Hutchings is a true talent and force to be reckoned with. His album, Wisdom of the Elders, is beautiful. His work with his band Comet is Coming pulls him into a new direction that I love. Electronic elements, breakdowns and full dance floor moments create such an interesting sound. It's no wonder that he got asked to compile the fantastic British jazz comp 'We Out Here' for Brownswood. He's one of the major leaders in the UK jazz scene right now. That scene is popping off in a big way, and I'm excited to see one of the kingpins here in Winnipeg.

Two of Winnipeg's hottest groups coming together in collaboration?! This will be very interesting! The 3Peat dudes are all carving out their own unique lanes, and each of them is extremely talented with smooth flows, intricate wordplay, humour and stage presence. To pair them with the talent of Royal Canoe will be incredible. We all know Royal Canoe throws a great show and can make a crowd boogie. I can only imagine that they'll have the crowd bumping. 

This guy has paved the way for a lot of conscious rappers. Heavily influenced by jazz, his music cannot be overlooked as a big influence on much of what has gone on in hip hop. “The Light” is my jam (the Badu remix is tight too). My favourite album of his is Like Water For Chocolate. Winnipeg should be honoured to have him visit!

Makaya McCraven
The double album that this guy put out is really interesting. It's a years worth of live sessions, compiled and edited into an album (Universal Beings). What piqued my interest is that he spent time with up and comers (and staples) in scenes across LA, NYC, London and Chicago (his hometown). Names like Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Shabaka Hutchings, and Nubya Garcia, have me listening to this drummer closely. He creates hypnotic, digital loops, that are raw, jazzy, and hip hop and R&B influenced. I'm stoked to check this guy out!

Jacob Bro Trio
I caught this trio at the Good Will in the depths of winter a few months back. It was super beautiful. Shimmering guitars, and layers upon layers of melody, it was perfect. I'm psyched to catch him again. He's on ECM, so you know it's going to be great.

Michael Falk