The Victoria Jazz Society presents Betty LaVette live with David Vest at the Royal Theatre for the TD Victoria International Jazz Festival this Friday (June 21).

The Victoria Jazz Society presents Betty LaVette live with David Vest at the Royal Theatre for the TD Victoria International Jazz Festival this Friday (June 21).

Discover the truth about jazz

The TD Victoria International Jazz Festival runs from June 21 to 30.

Jazz ain’t what you think.

The slogan for this year’s toe-tapping, finger-snapping dedication to jazz music, says it all.

“Jazz is what you feel,” said TD Victoria International Jazz Festival producer Darryl Mar. “Jazz is very broad and encompasses all styles of music. Some people think it’s all improvised or avant garde, but that’s not it.”

With an assortment of musicians moulding the festival, Mar’s best advice is simple.  “If you’ve never been here before, you need to come out, open your ears and listen to music.”

One act Mar won’t miss is Bettye LaVette’s show, June 21 at the Royal Theatre. “I have been trying to get her here for five years,” he said eagerly.

LaVette started her career in 1962 at age 16. She toured with big-name musicians including Otis Redding and James Brown.

Throughout the 10-day festival more than 350 musicians will perform and it’s a lot of work organizing and booking all the talent.  “In October we will start booking for next year’s Jazz Fest,” Mar said.

This year, the festival is welcoming a slew of new musicians including Boi Akih, Serena Ryder and Macy Gray.

A new venue this year is the Smoken Bones Cookshack for late night jam sessions. The restaurant, located in The Hudson building, will host the Ashley Wey Trio and the Kelby MacNayr Trio.

After a three-year hiatus, Sugar Nightclub is back on the festival venue list. The Boom Booms, Lee Field and The Expressions, Vieux Farka Touré, Ganga Giri and Tinsley Ellis are all playing at the club.

Other popular venues include the Royal Theatre, Alix Goolden Hall and Victoria Event Centre.

“Of the over 80 performances, 24 of them are absolutely free,” Mar said about the shows held at Centennial Square.

All of the performances at the downtown venue are free, wuth the exception of Five Alarm Funk ($18) on June 23 and Red Baratt ($28) on June 27. Both shows are at 7 p.m.

The festival is also hosting free workshops, but attendees are required to pre-register. The workshops are hosted by Vijay Iyer Trio, Kellylee Evans, Jon Cleary, Patricia Barber and Gabriel Alegria.

The TD Victoria International Jazz Festival runs from June 21 to 30.

For more information or to register for the workshops call 250-388-4423 or go to jazzvictoria.ca.