Vancouverites pining for the street-party atmosphere of the Olympics will have a chance to re-live that sense of community with the kickoff of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on Friday.

The province’s biggest music fest, which runs until July 4, features 1,800 musicians in 400 concerts at 40 venues — indoor and outdoor, free and ticketed — across the city.

John Orysik, spokesperson for the event, said the festival is so highly anticipated because it offers so many musical experiences.

“The music is so diverse and wide-ranging, and that’s why the jazz festival is so appealing,” he said.

“Jazz is so multi-dimensional. It tells a story. It absorbs whatever’s happening in society and comes out as music.”

Q. What acts are you most excited about?

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra from Norway. This is incredible pop music with elements of electronica and jazz. Kid Koala’s got a project with Wolf Mother’s rhythm section, the Slew, at The Commodore. They don’t come much bigger than George Benson. We’ve been trying to get him for 25 years. The other headliner is Nikki Yanofsky, (and) our own Martha Wainwright is going to be doing the songs of Edith Piaf.

Q. What are the annual highlights?

There’s a midnight jazz session every midnight at O’Doul’s and every musician is invited. It’s one of the most exciting elements of the festival because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Q. Do you have any suggestions for first-timers and non-jazz fans?

Go and see as much music as you can. Go to Gastown, Granville Island, the Roundhouse and David Lam Park. You could easily experience the music around the edges of jazz, like the Urban Groove series at The Commodore.

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