Five Must-See Acts from the 2024 Vancouver International Jazz Fest

Running June 21 to June 30, the annual event brings Killer Mike, Laraaji and more

Photo: Ming Wu

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Apr 26, 2024

Now 39 years in, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival is firmly entrenched in its city's music scene — all year round through the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, and every summer with its flagship festival.

Running for more than a week this June, the Vancouver International Jazz Fest offers an eclectic mix of big-name headliners and the next crop of emerging talent.

Here are five must-sees acts from the 2024 festival, spanning from adventurous jazz talents to legends from the worlds of hip-hop and ambient music. Tickets for the festival are on sale now.

JP Carter & Peter Knight
Arguably the most distinctive characteristic of Destroyer's era-defining 2009 album Kaputt is the echoing trumpet abstractions of JP Carter. For the Vancouver International Jazz Fest, he will link up with a similarly difficult-to-classify trumpeter, Melbourne's Peter Knight, for what's sure to be a night that redefines preconceptions about the instrument.

Empanadas Ilegales
Vancouver psychedelic cumbia band Empanadas Ilegales give fans a workout with their percussive jams, as drums and electronic guitars duel amidst dense percussive grooves and an undercurrent of swirling electronic abstractions.

Killer Mike
Having run the jewels with his hellraising collaboration with El-P, Atlanta rapper Killer Mike finally returned to solo work in 2023 with MICHAEL, revealing his sensitive side without losing any of his fire-breathing swagger behind the mic. Be sure to show up early enough to catch JUNO-winning opener DJ Shub.

One of the pioneers of ambient music, Laraaji cemented his place in the canon with 1980's Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, an instalment in Brian Eno's Ambient series (and the only one of the albums not to feature Eno as a performer). That album is performed on hammered dulcimer and zither, and the multitalented 81-year-old is also known for his work on piano, violin and mbira.

The Messthetics & James Brandon Lewis
Punk meets jazz in the collaboration between the Messthetics (an instrumental trio featuring former Fugazi members Joe Lally on bass and Brendan Canty on drums) and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. The collaborators are perfectly in sync without compromising any of their uniqueness.

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