One of the sure signs that summer is officially here in Winnipeg is that the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival has officially started. Coming out the last two years of chaos created by the pandemic, the Jazz festival has returned to live in person performances; and as always, managed to put together a tremendous line up of musicians for this year’s festival.
One of the real highlights of this year’s festival is a performance by award winning Canadian jazz singer and pianist Laila Biali. She will be performing at the Royal Albert Arms on Friday, June 17th at 7:30pm.
Masterfully mixing Jazz with pop influences Biali has received praise from all over. To name just a few of her accolades, Biali has won a Juno for Vocal Jazz album of the year. She was also the youngest ever double winner to receive top prizes at the Canadian National Jazz awards where she was named SOCAN’s composer of the year and Keyboardist of the Year. She has recorded eight albums that have garnered rave reviews from publications such as DownBeat Magazine and Parade Magazine.
Biali has performed at the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival numerous times, and always enjoys the experience. “It seems to be every two to three years that I pass through the festival, and it remains one of my favorite festivals…it truly does,“ states Biali.
The show on the Friday, June 17th at 7:30pm at The Royal Albert Arms, will feature tunes from Biali’s latest CD “Out of Dust.” The recording was released at the end of March 2020, right around the time of the first lockdown. As Biali says, “We never got to tour it (the album) through Winnipeg, and so I feel like we owe the album and our audience some live performances of those songs, as well as the stories that are behind the songs.”
The combination of a truly stellar line-up of musicians, combined with Biali’s piano playing and beautiful voice will make this a show to remember. She will be joined on stage by what she calls her “A” band, consisting of George Collier on bass, Ben Whittman on drums. Incidentally, Ben Whittman also happens to be Biali’s husband, and their is some hope by Biali that her son Joshua will join them on stage for a tune, because he co-wrote and performed on a track of Biali’s “Out of Dust” album.
Biali often performs pop tunes through the prism of a jazz lens. Whether that be adding extra notes to the basic chords found in the original tune, or simply changing the overall feel and pace of the source material. This creates a truly special listening experience for the audience. “I feel like that’s the what to connect jazz with people who may not otherwise call themselves jazz fans…which is something that I am really hungry to do as a performer,” says Biali.
The Canadian song book will also be very much represented on Friday night’s show. Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young’s music will all be heard as interpreted by Biali and her trio.
What a treat to have TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival back kicking off the summer in Winnipeg! There are amazing concerts happening over the six days of the festival, and this concert with Laila Biali, is going to be show you will not want to miss!