Jazz singer George Evans will bring his unique blend of Montreal and New York influences to the Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival on July 1.
The 46-year-old Garden District resident has spent a decade involved in the Toronto music scene after living in New York and Montreal and is eager to show audiences his latest performance titled Lovers and Losers at the Cabaret at the Old Mill.
“I finally got to move here when I got the hell out of New York City,” Evans laughs. “That was a really good thing.”
He recounts, “I got sucked down the 401 as a lot of young Anglophone people do from Montreal for work. I was brought here for a contract voiceover job with a satellite television company and that allowed me to connect myself to the Toronto jazz scene.”
Formally trained in theatre and dance, Evans jazz roots can be found in Montreal but it was a move to Toronto in 1999 that allowed his music to grow. A self-described ridiculous record collector, Evans says he loves living in the heart of Downtown because of the vibe—which can be felt in his music.
The Canadian jazz scene was missing a cabaret style performer and Evans grabbed the opportunity to use his unique approach.
“It wasn’t until I got to Canada that I was able to reinvent myself and start to sing with jazz musicians on the scene and not have any baggage,” said Evans. “There was no expectation for me as a theatre performer. It was my perception when I arrived here that a lot of singers that were beneath a certain age were not performing like vocal entertainers. On stage they will function like an instrument and in some cases I wasn’t seeing singers who were presenting their music but would simply be on stage singing songs and not addressing the audience, not engaging the audience, not telling the story about the song.”
He believes the key to his success is his focus on the song lyrics. “We start with the words and the story of the song and then as jazz singers we develop an interpretation as we start to sing this material and find it within jazz so the point of departure is the words.”