The Vancouver International Jazz Festival to feature Bellevue’s Ariel Pocock

The jazz festival takes place June 22-July 2 in Vancouver, B.C.

Northwest jazz lovers always look forward to June, which brings British Columbia’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival to the area. This year’s festival starts Thursday, June 22, and runs through July 2.

Bookended by two weekends of free outdoor concerts, the festival has some extra benefits for tourists this year: a newly renovated pedestrian- and public-event-friendly Robson Square and Vancouver Art Gallery plaza — where the opening shows take place on three stages this Saturday and Sunday afternoon (June 23-24) — not to mention a very attractive exchange rate ($1 U.S. dollar equals $1.32 Canadian).

The opening free concerts downtown are a truly festive affair, with animated crowds, food booths, a youth stage and Vancouver’s sparkling shopping hub just steps away.

Festival preview

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Thursday, June 22-July 2 at various venues in Vancouver, B.C.; single shows free-$110, discounted passes for various series but no all-festival passes available (888-438-5200 or coastaljazz.ca).

Sunday’s lineup includes the delightful, Bellevue-bred vocal tyro Ariel Pocock, who debuts her second album, “Living in Twilight,” this month. Pocock, 24, won piano and vocal awards at the Essentially Ellington competition back when she attended Bellevue’s Newport High School, and since then has snagged performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Stanford Jazz Workshop.

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Pocock is in fine form on “Living in Twilight,” which has some Canadian connections of its own: it was recorded in Montreal and released on that city’s Justin Time records (the label that launched Diana Krall) and one of its best tracks is a cover of the late Quebecois singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle’s killer breakup song, “Go Leave.”

Like Krall, Pocock is a crisp, swinging…

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