Saturday, July 7, 2018


The Halifax Jazz Festival gets underway this coming week, has a stellar lineup, and opening night features a fantastic free show. It's starring none other than Canada's premiere jazz-soul singer, Molly Johnson. And wouldn't you know, she's got a killer new album out too.

It's produced by none other than Larry Klein, who has managed to do a decent job in the same role for Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman and Norah Jones over the years. He knows how to showcase the finest female singers, and that's just what you want with Johnson. She has one of those voices, the kind that you want to enjoy every syllable she sings, the last faded "sss..." on the end of a line. This is a particularly punchy, upbeat set for her, mostly originals, and some well-chosen covers. There aren't too many singers who can bring out the groove in Leonard Cohen's Boogie Street, and make a classy version of Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues as well.

Her previous release was her tribute to Billie Holiday, Because Of Billie, so Johnson had a bunch of her own songs saved up for this one. Gone has a big groove, almost a rocker, while Stop, written with Klein and David Baerwald (David & David) is a jazzy modern ballad, with an emotional lead from Johnson at her smokiest.

See Molly Johnson at the free show Tuesday, July 10 at the Waterfront Stage at 8:30 pm, along with the Halifax All-Star Jazz Revue. That features the city's top players, including drummer Dave Burton, Jamie Gatti on bass, Geordie Haley on guitar, keyboard player Sylvio Pupo and Chris Mitchell on sax. There are plenty of other tempting shows throughout the week as well, including sets from Chaka Khan, The War On Drugs, Alvvays, Matt Andersen and the Mellotones, Whitehorse, Daniel Caesar, Charlotte Day Wilson and lots more.

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