TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival: Solos and Duos

Western Front is pleased to partner with Coastal Jazz and Blues Society to present two days of live music from the Grand Luxe Hall as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Intimate 30-minute sets by Vancouver-based solo artists and duos will be live streamed for free to Coastal Jazz’s YouTube channel.

This series of concerts marks Western Front’s return as a performance venue for the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, Western Front’s Grand Luxe Hall became a West Coast institution and frequent tour stop for experimental music artists, especially during the summer Jazz Festival. Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Bill Frisell, George Lewis, Steve Lacy, Myra Melford, and many other groundbreaking musicians have performed in the Luxe, often in solo or duo settings, giving audience members a chance to witness their creative processes in an intimate setting. Continuing in this tradition, Western Front is excited to present this series to highlight some of the wonderful musicians who call Vancouver and its music community their home.

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival is BC’s largest non-profit music festival. For further information about the festival, please visit

Schedule of Presentations 

July 3, 2021
Why Choir 1:30 p.m. PDT
Marina Hasselberg 3:00 p.m. PDT
Sean Cronin 4:30 p.m. PDT
Gordon Grdina (solo) 6:00 p.m. PDT

July 4, 2021
George Crotty 1:30 p.m. PDT
Meredith Bates 3:00 p.m. PDT
Alvaro Rojas (solo) 4:30 p.m. PDT
The Giving Shapes 6:00 p.m. PDT


Why Choir is Roxanne Nesbitt and Ben Brown. Together, they investigate reverberant spaces, resonant sculptures, and the pitched mundane. Using a wide and wild range of sonic tools and treatments—including drum kit, strung floor tom, voice, electronics, upright bass, and Nesbitt’s handmade ceramic percussion instruments—Why Choir’s improvised performances evoke an “eerie, insect-like 3D experience… in a good way” (Discorder).

Marina Hasselberg is a Portugal-born, Vancouver-based cellist. Her solo project takes a multitude of shapes. With a quietly provocative mix of written works and improvised excursions, Hasselberg uses extended techniques, a variety of bows and accessories, and electronics to play with the fine line between the known and the unknown.

Sean Cronin, like many, has not performed his music in over a year. The last time he did, it was in New York, releasing his band Very Good’s ambitious LP, Adulthood. Typical of Cronin’s work, the show was an absurdist avant-Americana dream, equal parts Leonard Cohen, Charles Mingus, Pixies, and Eugene Ionesco. He returns to Vancouver for a solo show that will see him performing his oddly melodious originals as well as improvising dialogue, playing percussion with his feet, and perhaps ending up in an apron and bunny ears.

Gordon Grdina is a JUNO Award winning oud/guitarist whose career has spanned continents, decades, and constant genre exploration throughout avant-garde jazz, free form improvisation, contemporary indie rock, and Arabic music. His singular approach to the instruments has earned him recognition from the highest ranks of the jazz/improv world. Grdina has performed and collaborated with a wide array of field-leading artists including Gary Peacock, Paul Motian, Marc Ribot, Mark Helias, Mats Gustafsson, Hank Roberts, Mark Feldman, Eyvind Kang, Mat Maneri, Christian Lilinger, Matt Mitchell, and Jim Black.

George Crotty is a cellist/composer, whose inquisitive eclecticism embraces fiddle-derived ornamentation, the agile one-finger gestures of Indian classical music, adapted electric guitar techniques, and the bold articulations of jazz bass. One half of the Loose Roots Duo with West Coast fiddler Gabriel Dubreuil, and leader of his titular world-jazz inflected trio, the Toronto-based Crotty’s modernist genre-bending is heavily influenced by his hometown’s vibrant pluralism.

Meredith Bates is a JUNO Award-winning violinist, who explodes her classical training outward through extended techniques and electronic experimentation. Known for her work in Gentle Party and Pugs & Crows, Bates’s debut solo album features ambient and electroacoustic compositions inspired by our relationship to one another and our surroundings, be they idyllic or buzzing with the electric snarl of the city.

Alvaro Rojas is an award winning guitarist and composer based in Vancouver. As a guitarist he performs regularly with his trio, as well with other local artists in the pop, rock, jazz, and improvised music communities. As a composer, Alvaro has had works performed by many of Canada’s finest new music groups, including the Turning Point Ensemble, Aventa Ensemble, and the Microcosmos String Quartet. He has written music for choir, big band, orchestra, various chamber groups, and small ensembles, and has scored numerous short films.

The Giving Shapes is pianist/vocalist Robyn Jacob (Only a Visitor) and harpist/vocalist Elisa Thorn (Gentle Party). Together they triangulate new music, indie-rock songcraft, and the far-reaching aesthetics of free improvisation. Released in 2020 on the American label Elsewhere Music, the duo’s debut album, Earth Leaps Up, feels simultaneously familiar and fresh, merging intellect and experimentation with emotion and accessibility.