The lineup for the 2005 Vancouver International Jazz Festival has been announced. Since it's what I know and get excited about, here are some avant garde and free jazz performers coming to take note of (links take you to musical samples and descriptions):
Lol Coxhill (avant-sax)
Free Fall with Ken Vandermark (avant-clarinet)
The Marks Brothers (double bass duo feat. Mark Dresser)
Roscoe Mitchell (of the Art Ensemble of Chicago)
Phil Minton (experimental vocalist who's worked with John Zorn, Fred Frith, Paul Dutton, and more)
Louis Moholo's Dedication Orchestra (check out the wild minute long MP3 of that one!)
Evan Parker (legendary sax player who didn't actually excite me much last time I saw him, but he's a big name, so I'm including him on the list).
Tho' it's not entirely free jazz, Eric Boeren and the Bad Plus are both going to be fun to see (the latter link leads also to a sample for the Scorch Trio, who also sound promising). In terms of local music, I'll possibly check out Bernie Arai and Mike Allen, both of whom I've seen play really, really well. Brad Turner I didn't mind, either, the one time I saw him. I'm mostly not that enthusiastic about local jazz -- there are more artists I make a point of avoiding these days (having seen them play in contexts that were embarrassing, even if they weren't themselves that bad... tho' sometimes they were) than I try to see. There's a lot more life on our pop music scene than our jazz scene, it sometimes seems to me. But I don't want to run down anyone, lest I be run down by someone, so I'll leave it at that.