Artists 2023

Alex Bird & The Jazz Mavericks

Over the last three years, Alex Bird & The Jazz Mavericks have become one of the top acts in Canadian jazz. Songwriting and piano partner Ewan Farncombe, with singer and songwriter Bird, have been creating timeless and heartfelt originals for a modern audience. Last year brought JUNO nominations as well as reviews from around the world. Assessing a 2022 duo album release, “Songwriter,” Downbeat magazine called it “an elegant, romantic, and well-executed gem of a record.”

Aline’s étoile magique

Aline Homzy is an award-winning violinist and composer based in Toronto. Her influences stem from collaborators such as David Occhipinti, Munir Hossn, Michael Davidson, Andre Downing and Allison Au. Aline has played her original music at the Daegu Festival, South Korea, Stockholm Jazz Festival, TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. In 2022, Aline was a finalist in the Toronto Emerging Jazz Artists Awards. She received a Distinguished Fellowship from the prestigious artist residency, Hambidge Centre for the Arts.

Anthony Fung

Drummer, composer, producer and bandleader Anthony Fung was born in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He has been playing the drums since the age of ten. An alumnus of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Anthony has studied and performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chris Potter, Danilo Perez, Bill Childs and many others. His 2018 album Flashpoint received a “Best Albums of 2019 & 2020” four-star review in Downbeat magazine.


Avataar is a JUNO-winning Toronto based world-jazz group featuring some of Canada’s finest jazz, world, funk, and pop musicians. Personnel includes bandleader Sundar Viswanathan (saxophones, flute, vocals), Felicity Williams (vocals), Michael Occhipinti (guitar), Justin Gray (bass), Ravi Naimpally (tablas) and Max Senit (drums and percussion). “Petal,” Avataar’s debut CD, received critical acclaim from Downbeat, JAZZIZ, and allaboutjazz among others. Their sophomore album, Worldview, won a 2022 JUNO award for Best Jazz Album (group).

Bantu Salsa

The Bantu Salsa collective was born in Montreal in 2019, melding artists from diverse backgrounds into a dynamic experience. Just Wan (Cameroon), initiator of the project, is songwriter, performer and bass player. His albums explore different musical universes with new rhythms and influences. Diely Mori Tounkara (Mali), brings the musical poetry of West Africa with the kora, a magnificent stringed instrument. Pianist Ricardo Angel Soriano (Mexico) provides the harmonic base. His speed, nuanced and soft, allows a perfect marriage of African melodies and salsa rhythms.

Barbra Lica

Barbra Lica is a JUNO-nominated singer-songwriter-producer based in Toronto. A seasoned act on club and festival circuits, Barbra has performed everywhere from New York City’s legendary Birdland to the Tokyo International Jazz Festival. She has opened for the likes of Christian McBride, Pat Metheny and Terence Blanchard. Her recent album, “You’re Fine,” marked the introduction of folk and Americana elements and has amassed over 5.6 million streams on Spotify. Her current self-produced EP, “Imposter Syndrome,” combines elements of folk, R&B, indie pop, and jazz.

Brian Barlow & Laila Biali

Multi-award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter, pianist and CBC Music radio host Laila Biali has headlined festivals and venues spanning five continents, from New York City’s Carnegie Hall, to Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts. Brian Barlow is one of Canada’s most recorded drummer/percussionists, performing on more than 500 albums. The A-list Brian Barlow Big Band has set the gold standard for big bands in Canada. Put them together, along with the music of the legendary Joni Mitchell and with original arrangements by Barlow, and you’ve got a magic mix.

Catherine Russell

Grammy-winning vocalist Catherine Russell was born into musical royalty. He father, Luis Russell, legendary pianist/composer/bandleader, was Louis Armstrong’s long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, vocalist/guitarist/bassist, performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver. Catherine has toured the world performing and recording with David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, and Wynton Marsalis, among others. Will Friedwald, writing in the Wall Street Journal, calls her “one of the outstanding singers of our time.”

Chris Antonik

Born and raised in Markham, three-time Maple Blues Award-nominated, blues-rock guitarist, singer/songwriter Chris Antonik has been wowing audiences with his incendiary blues-rock guitar playing and innovative songwriting, transcending limitations and expectations of the genre. Chris has toured Canada, the U.S. and U.K. extensively. His guitar style has been compared to BB King, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana. In 2023, Chris was nominated for three U.S.-based Independent Blues Music Awards, including Best Blues Rock Album, Best Blues Rock Artist, and Best Blues Rock Song.

Elan Trotman

Born and raised in Barbados, and educated at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music, Elan has become one of jazz’s most thrilling and emotive performers. Elan was named Jazz Artist of the Year by the New England Urban Music Awards and The Barbados Music Awards. Blending Caribbean rhythms with skillful horn textures, his playing is full of surprises. He has performed and recorded with many world-class musicians including Roberta Flack, Sheila E, Marcus Miller, Earl Klugh, Peabo Bryson, and Michael McDonald among others.

Heavyweights Brass Band

The Heavyweights Brass Band hits hard with its seasoned blend of groove, energy, virtuosity and originality. For over a decade, this Toronto-based, New Orleans-inspired brass institution has brought audiences to their feet and club-goers to the dance floor with an inspiring blend of original music and unexpected covers. Their music has been featured on film, commercials, radio and television. With extensive touring experience, they have shared the stage with Trombone Shorty, the Roots and The Soul Rebels, among others.

Jacob Chung

Canadian saxophonist/composer Jacob Chung is a dynamic young jazz musician whose commitment to swing is heard in his hometown Toronto and in New York City, where he currently studies at the Manhattan School of Music. He established himself as one of the most exciting players in Toronto with residencies at the Jazz Bistro, the Rex and Poetry Jazz Cafe. He has garnered several Canadian awards and accolades, and has performed with, among others, Robi Botos, Mike Murley, Jodi Proznick, and the Mingus Big Band.

John Finley

John Finley lives to sing, write and perform. Performing his potent soul style, John and band Jon & Lee & the Checkmates opened twice for the Rolling Stones in Toronto. John has penned songs for Three Dog Night, Ivan Neville and Melissa Manchester, and has performed in studio with Michael MacDonald, Donna Summer and many others. His 2020 recording, “John Finley, Soul Singer,” received rave reviews from Kurt Elling, Paul Shafer and the late Ronnie Hawkins. His soulful style is testament to his musical life.

Matthew Stevens Trio

A leading guitarist of his generation, Grammy-winning Matthew Stevens is joined at this year’s TDMJF by Jon Maharaj and Adam Arruda. The Canadian-born Stevens has a “singular style dissolves the lines between jazz, rock and ambient music.” (Mojo). His work is described as “music [that] advances the ideals of modern jazz.” (WGBO). His songs and playing are featured on over 70 recordings, and his performances have been lauded in Billboard, The Guardian, Guitar Player Magazine, Jazz Times, Mojo, NPR and the New York Times among others.

Melissa Lauren

“Jazz is my first love,” Melissa notes, not that a single genre could define her diverse singing style and career. Beginning as a teenager, she performed throughout North America with the Toronto All-Star Big Band, all while developing herself as a songwriter as well as performer. With three highly acclaimed albums to her credit, Melissa has performed at the Folk Alliance International, the Halifax International Jazz Festival, the New Skool Rules Festival in the Netherlands, plus concerts in Eastern Europe.

Mike Murley

Saxophonist and composer Mike Murley is one of Canada’s most celebrated jazz artists, appearing on 14 JUNO-winning albums – seven of them his own. Recordings with legendary Canadian artists such as the late Ed Bickert, Rob McConnell, and Guido Basso showcase Murley’s talents in the mainstream jazz idiom. He has collaborated with younger generations too, from pianist David Braid, saxophonist Tara Davidson and guitarist David Occhipinti to vocalist/pianist Hannah Barstow, and multi-JUNO-winning electric jazz group Metalwood.


OKAN brings its sizzling fusion of Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms back to the TDMJF stage. With vocals in Spanish, English and Spanglish, OKAN is led by Cuban-born violinist and vocalist Elizabeth Rodriguez and percussionist/vocalist Magdelys Savigne, both Grammy and Latin Grammy nominees. They take the group’s name from the word for “heart” in their region of Santeria, Cuba. OKAN’s JUNO-winning sophomore release “Espiral” debuted in first place on Canada’s !Earshot charts and was included on NPR’s top 10 Alt Latino and CBC Music’s Top 20 of 2020.

Peter Hum

Born and raised in Ottawa, Peter has been a mainstay of the jazz community of Canada’s capital for three decades. He has released three albums of modern mainstream jazz, including Ordinary Heroes, which received a four-star review in Downbeat magazine. Peter has performed across Canada and is a recipient of multiple grants in support of his recordings and touring. Largely self-taught, Peter counts himself very fortunate to have performed with Canadian jazz legends such as Sonny Greenwich, Phil Nimmons, Pat Labarbera and Reg Schwager.

Rebecca Hennessy Makeshift Island

An award-winning trumpeter, singer, composer and bandleader, Rebecca Hennessy has performed and recorded around the world, including with Adele, Kevin Breit, Ron Sexsmith, Andy Kim, Broken Social Scene and Feist. Hennessy leads Massey Hall’s Women’s Blues Revue, earned the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Jazz Artist Award in 2018, and was nominated for the Montreal Jazz Festival Grand Prix de Jazz in 2016. Rebecca received a Toronto Arts Council grant to write new music featuring the poetry of acclaimed indigenous author, Thomas King.

Shannon Chapman

Shannon Chapman is a singer, instrumentalist, and producer raised in Manitoba and currently based in Toronto. Shannon’s brand of neo-soul balances personal, introspective topics with fun, feel-good jams. Lush harmony, slinky woodwinds and head-bobbing grooves support her soaring vocal melodies. Fiercely independent, she is sole creator writing and producing her music. In spring 2020, she released her EP “Ebb and Flow” and began rollout of her second project, “Playing Games,” in 2022.

Teri Parker’s Free Spirits

Free Spirits is an exciting new quintet, with a live show that’s as exhilarating to the casual listener as it is to the most ardent jazz fan. Led by pianist Teri Parker, the group celebrates the music of Geri Allen and Mary Lou Williams. Parker developed the project for a multi-night residency at Toronto’s Rex Jazz and Blue Bar in 2019, to an overwhelmingly positive response. With fresh arrangements from Parker, Free Spirits breathe new life into decades-old music while showcasing considerable improvisatory gifts.

The Fabulous Jive Bombers

With a reputation for lively, toe-tapping jazz and a bluesy edge, this high-energy band and their “Little Big Band” format explores the entire history of jazz and blues, with a focus on Swing, Boogie-Woogie, and vintage R&B. They are joined by guest vocalist Johnny Max. Jiving and swinging in and around Toronto for over 40 years, band members have performed throughout Canada and abroad. Mixed with humour and good-natured kidding around, their shows are always loads of fund for everyone!

The Nimmons Tribute Band

The Nimmons Tribute features some of the finest musicians in Canada, who have joined in a joyous celebration of Canadian jazz legend, clarinetist, composer, bandleader and educator Phil Nimmons. Led by Sean Nimmons-Paterson, the band includes Phil’s colleagues, former students, friends and family – Kevin Turcotte, Tara Davidson, Mike Murley, William Carn, Alex Dean, Heather Bambrick, Sean Nimmons, Jon Maharaj and Ethan Ardelli. Each joined because of their deep appreciation of Phil and his contributions to their careers and jazz in Canada.


THERMO is a new jazz project co-led by jazz piano player Mike Manny and jazz guitarist Nathan Hiltz. The group was formed during the pandemic using the internet platform Syncspace. This allowed the group to develop and perform music by Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey and Oscar Peterson while 600km apart. Their new album features a set of swinging standards, hidden gems from the Blue Note era, plus two original songs.

Worst Pop Band Ever

With influences ranging from Miles Davis to The Carpenters to J Dilla, the WPBE combine their love of improvisation with modern pop influences and a mish-mash of electro-acoustic sounds, receiving critical acclaim. They have been featured in films for the NFB and the CBC, played festivals across Canada and abroad, while individual members have worked with numerous JUNO and Grammy-nominated artists from Blue Rodeo to Holly Cole.