Sutton Jazz Festival

A Word from the Artistic Director and founder, Stanley Lake

The stage is set, the lights flicker, the audience quiets and the musicians take their places.  Maybe an introduction to the evening's music or maybe the drummer just gives the count and the music begins.  Jazz !  The group plays the melody, each giving their support to the rhythm and the style of the tune, working their way around the harmonic structures of the piece.  And then the improvisations begin, first one and then another musician reinterprets the tune and creates a new sound and a new feel based on the tune's structure and based on the improvisations of the preceding soloist.  Communication !

For 20 years I've had the pleasure and privilege to organize the many musicians who have come to the Town of Sutton and who have presented their music.  The festival was set up to provide venues for local jazz musicians to perform and to also have jazz musicians from Montreal come to our region with their music.

The names, some familiar icons of the Montreal jazz scene and some unfamiliar names along with our local jazz performers, all displayed their virtuosic talents and shared their love of jazz with all who came to hear them perform.

And now, just as jazz performances can fly by with a wink of an eye, so have 20 years of jazz presentations in Sutton.  Thanks to all of you who have participated and all of you who have supported our endeavours.  And welcome to our 20th year of jazz in Sutton.

Stanley Lake in show

Our mission

The Sutton Jazz Festival (SJF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote jazz in Québec and more particulary in the Sutton region.

Since 2001, SJF has worked to bring jazz to life in the community and thereby contribute to the development of the next québécois jazz generation.

History

The Sutton Jazz Festival was founded in 2001 thanks to the efforts of Stanley Lake and Vicki Tansey.  By the second year of the Festival, Stanley Lake would become the sole artistic director and principal organizer.  For the first three years, the Festival presented performances on five weekends in the winter at the Sutton Art Gallery.  The idea was to give an opportunity to local musicians and musicians from Montreal to perform.  Also, the Festival was trying to create and develop a jazz audience in Sutton.  Seeing that the public was interested, the experience was repeated in the following years.

Then, the Salle Alec and Gérard Pelletier opened its doors in 2005 and invited the Festival to present its concerts at the Salle.  Thus, in 2005, the Festival began to present concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings during the glorious colours of autumn.  This partnership between the Festival and the Salle lasted until 2020, when the pandemic forced the closure of theatres.

In 2008, the Festival officially became a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of jazz in the region. This allowed the Festival to apply for government grants and sponsorship programs ; with Heritage Canada, Brome-Missisquoi MRC, Town of Sutton and local companies.  Thanks to those new sources of funding, the Festival was increasingly able to invite leading figures of the Montreal jazz scene as well as to continue its support of local jazz musicians.

Gradually, the Festival expanded and presented concerts on the streets of Sutton, notably with Homebrew Dixieland Band.  In its tenth year of existence, concerts in restaurants were added.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, the Festival moved its musical programs outdoors.  Following the government's directive to allow external groupings of 250 or less, the Festival, with only three weeks notice, organized its 19th edition and presented free outdoor concerts at the John-Sleeth Park.  This approach and new venue was greatly appreciated by the public and attracted more then 1 500 jazz lovers throughout the season.

2021 marks the Festival's 20th anniversary.  From July to first weekend of September, the Festival will present 9 free outdoor performances in the Sutton Saturday Market from 5pm to 7pm each Saturday.  Also on Saturdays, there will be smaller jazz ensembles performing from 11am to 1pm on the CINETIK stage behind the post office.  And new this year, the Festival will be organizing special performances and workshops for the youth at the Sutton School of Art.

To date, more than 150 concerts have featured jazz musicians from Quebec and the Sutton region, including : Roberto Murray, Dave Turner, Rémi Bolduc, Alex Côté, Jean Derome, Mathieu Bélanger on saxophone.  On trumpet : Kevin Dean, Marc Bolduc, Ron Di Lauro, Aron Doyle and Jacques Kuba Séguin.  Marimba and vibraphone : Jean Vanasse and Kevin Sullivan.  Singers : Vivienne Deane, Ranee Lee, Karen Young, Dawn Tyler Watson and Almut Ellinghaus.  Bassists : Frédéric Alarie, Normand Guilbeault, Michel Donato and Alex Bellegarde.  Several pianists including : Taurey Butler, Lorraine Desmarais, Marianne Trudel, Felix Stüssi, François Bourassa, Michel Pilc and Yves Léveillé.  On guitar : Sylvain Provost, Claude Prud'homme and Nelson Symonds.  And finally, several ensembles including : Jazz Lab, the Trio LML, Christine Tassan's Imposters, Jazz Affair, Gossage Bros, Honeysuckle Sisters and the Homebrew Dixieland Band.

Board of directors

  • Stanley Lake, artistic director and founder
  • Daniel Dufresne, president
  • VACANT, tresory
  • Sylvain Lemieux,  communications
  • Steve-Éric Picard, webmestre
  • VACANT, secretary
  • Eva Major-Marothy, translator