Niagara wine country will be filled with the sounds of jazz when the inaugural Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival takes place during the weekend of February 16 - 18, 2018. Spearheaded by Artistic Director, the 5-time JUNO Award-winning, celebrated jazz pianist Renee Rosnes, the world’s first (and only!) jazz festival bearing the name of Canada’s greatest jazz artist will honour and celebrate his legacy of excellence. This Festival is not intended to simply present concerts in tribute to Oscar Peterson, but rather to truly present jazz, showcasing the rich history and the future of the music Oscar loved.

The Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival is led by Artistic Director Renee Rosnes, Artistic Producer Kelly Peterson, and Executive Producers Christine Mori and Alexis Spieldenner of Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts.

Norman Granz and Jazz at the Philharmonic

The 2018 Festival will be dedicated to Norman Granz, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. “Impresario, record producer, civil rights activist, and founder of Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz is arguably the most important non-musician in jazz history,” said Kelly Peterson, Artistic Producer of the festival. “The role that Norman played in presenting jazz cannot be underestimated. The role he played in breaking down racial barriers, however, was his proudest accomplishment.”

Jazz at the Philharmonic (“JATP” as it was known) was a series of all-star jam-session-style concerts that began in 1944 when Granz presented a concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. The first to present jazz in concert halls, giving it the same respect as classical music, he made it a contractual obligation for there to be no segregation in the concert venues, leading the charge against discrimination long before the Civil Rights Movement began. Granz himself said, “The whole reason for Jazz at the Philharmonic was to take it to places where I could break down segregation and discrimination.”

An exciting and celebratory weekend

The Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival will showcase Canadian artists alongside artists of other nationalities, generating a diverse and vibrant repertoire. This will be an exciting and celebratory weekend, with opportunity to hear great jazz musicians in intimate settings, all in the picturesque Niagara region.

We are thrilled to present multiple GRAMMY Award winners Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Greene, Michael Dease, Benny Green, Christian McBride, and Kenny Washington at the Festival’s sparkling all-star opening night event. It will be tremendous to hear these great artists perform together, and rare to have such talent appearing here in the Niagara region.

Saturday evening will bring a Gala affair to Stratus Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Double Portrait, the piano duo of the Festival’s Artistic Director Renee Rosnes and GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Bill Charlap.

The grand finale of the Festival will be another star-studded concert featuring Canadian artists Carol Welsman, Kevin Turcotte, Mike Murley, Robi Botos, Dave Young, and Jim Doxas.

Canadian Jazz Master Awards

Sunday afternoon’s event will also feature the premiere presentation of the newly created Canadian Jazz Master Awards. “The purpose of these awards is to celebrate and honour Canadian jazz musicians of the highest artistic excellence who are deserving of national recognition. Each year two awards will be presented, to one living and one past legend of Canadian jazz,” said Rosnes. “We believe it is time to recognize the great contributions Canadian artists have made to jazz music.”

Nominations are based on individuals who have reached the highest level of artistic excellence, and have made major contributions - through recordings and live performances - within the field of Canadian jazz. Nominees will be chosen and reviewed by a rotating advisory panel of jazz experts from across Canada whose recommendations will be compiled in a master list. The artists who receive the most votes by the panel, in each of the two categories, will be honoured with a Canadian Jazz Master Award. Recipients will be announced by Friday, January 19, 2018. 

The Canadian Jazz Master Awards will be presented annually, under the auspices of the Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival.