Juno Award-winning Canadian jazz pianist Michael Kaeshammer said he has fond memories of headlining the first-ever Jazz Sudbury Festival, and is thrilled to return for the festival's 10th anniversary.
Jazz Sudbury Festival runs Sept. 5-9, with mainstage performances taking place in Bell Park over the weekend.
“I was wondering what took them so long,” he said. “Just kidding. But no, it was a real fun festival from what I remember, and it's great that it's around for the 10th anniversary.”
It isn't a coincidence that Kaeshammer was invited back for Jazz Sudbury's 10th anniversary.
“I thought 'Why don't we bookend this 10th anniversary by having the headliner that we had for the first Jazz Sudbury Festival?'” the festival's artistic director, Allan Walsh, said when the lineup was released in June.
Kaeshammer said he loves jazz festivals because they attract a larger segment of the population than would normally go to a jazz show at a club.
“It gives it a great exposure,” he said.
The 41-year-old Victoria, B.C.-based musician grew up in Offenburg, Germany, only moving to Canada with his family as a young man in 1996.
He said he might not have become a musician if he hadn't moved to Canada. Kaeshammer said when he moved here, he realized he could earn money by playing in clubs, and that was attractive to him as a young person.
He attributes his unique style of playing to growing up listening to his dad's eclectic record collection and becoming interested in playing boogie woogie piano and jazz.
“I didn't go through any university jazz program or something,” Kaeshammer said.
“I kind of found what interested me. Sometimes jazz students in university, they like things that they're being told to like. That's why I did my own thing, you know.”
Kaeshammer recently released a new album, “Something Different.” He recorded the album in New Orleans, where he lived for a time as a young man. That was before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
He said it's his favourite record so far.
“I've always loved New Orleans music and piano and drum rhythms,” Kaeshammer said. “I just went down there and recorded with some of my favourite musicians and friends.
“I just kind of did a record that I would want to listen to, and nothing with any kind of commercial thought in mind.”
Kaeshammer headlines the Saturday night of Jazz Sudbury along with Canadian pop and jazz singer Molly Johnson. It's going to be a great night, he said.
“Molly is playing right before us,” he said. “She's so fantastic. It's just going to be good-feeling jazz …
“I'm actually really excited for this. In the summer it's nice to be in B.C. There's not too many places I would fly out for the weekend. Since it's the 10th anniversary of the Sudbury Jazz Fest, I can't wait.”
Jazz Sudbury Festival primer
The mainstage at Grace Hartman Amphitheatre Friday and Saturday features headliners Michael Kaeshammer and Molly Johnson, as well as Luca Ciarla, Jazzamboka, Alysha Brilla, Bobby Bazini, Lucky Chops, Ori Dagan, Anthony D'Alessandro Trio, Great North All Star Big Band and Patricia Cano.
Jazz in the Park takes place Saturday, Sept. 8, and features performances in Bell Park starting at 12 p.m., followed at 2 p.m. by the Jazz Walk, which involves the Nickel City Dixie Stompers leading the audience on a musical walk to downtown venues, where they can take in more music by fantastic performers.
On Sunday, Sept. 9, you can catch a performance by Robi Botos at Kuppajo at 10 a.m., followed by Jazz on the Beach in Bell Park at 1 p.m., featuring various performers.
You can also catch club shows starting Sept. 5 at the Townehouse Tavern, The Alibi Room and the Laughing Buddha.
For festival passes and a full schedule, visit jazzsudbury.com.