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On the jazz and improvised music scene in Ottawa-Gatineau today:
- 10 a.m.: Chamberfest: Robert Harris: Women in Music at Dominion Chalmers United Church (talk, free)
- 12 noon: Spirit into Sound: Peter Woods and Hélène Knoerr and Devon Woods at MacKay United Church (freewill offering)
- 2 p.m.: Chamberfest: Lemon Bucket Orkestra children's show at Ottawa City Hall (free) [review]
- 3 p.m.: Gareth Pearson plays the Record Centre
Updated July 27 to include Thursday show in Montreal.
Montreal jazz guitarist and Juno-winning composer Mike Rud is a frequent visitor to Ottawa, most recently this month for a sold-out duo gig with Peter Bernstein. He's back this weekend for two nights at the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata and a Sunday afternoon gig at the Record Centre, paying tribute to best-selling guitarist George Benson.
While Benson is best known for his Grammy-winning song, “On Broadway”, he's had a long jazz career, playing with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, and Freddie Hubbard, and winning 10 Grammys for albums spanning jazz, pop, and R&B. He performed at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2010.
The shows are part of drummer Michel Delage's continuing monthly tribute series at Brookstreet, and Rud will be playing with Delage and bassist Alex Bilodeau. But the choice of George Benson was all Rud's.
OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor talked with Mike Rud about the shows, and his love of George Benson's music, earlier this month. This is an edited version of the interview.
OttawaJazzScene.ca: Why did you suggest doing a tribute to George Benson?
Mike Rud: Because, if I think of a particular artist whose artist I'm familiar enough with to feel like I've done a good review before going ahead – it would probably be Benson. There would only be two or three guys that I'd really feel that I'd listened to their whole catalogue, and Benson's certainly one of them.
OttawaJazzScene.ca: When did you first hear him?
Rud: I had a guitar teacher when I was in high school named Brian Hughes, who's an adult contemporary jazz guitar star. He lives in California now. And it was Brian who turned me on to George Benson. Brian used to play a couple of tunes from Benson's catalogue in his show, and he gave me the source recordings. He said, 'Well, if you like that, you should listen to this record.' I got them, and I just couldn't believe it!
|(l-r) Jesse Sterwart, David Mott, and Ernst Reijseger |
share a common passion for making music
in the moment photos ©Brett Delmage
When Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger, Toronto baritone saxophonist David Mott, and Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart first played together in Toronto in 2014, it was a memorable concert.
“He's a showman,” Stewart recalls. “The concert we did in Toronto, it was actually at David's karate dojo. Towards the end of the concert we knew this was going to be the last piece and Ernst stood up and was playing while he was walking.
“And he left the room, and he was still playing! He was in another room where there was all David's martial arts equipment and while he was still playing cello and walking, he started knocking stuff over with his foot. We could hardly play because we were laughing so hard. It was so, so funny! But, yes, he's a showman, that's for sure. But also incredibly musical and just a wonderful improviser.”
The three will reunite in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 26, for a late-night Chamberfringe concert. It's one of several concerts which Reijseger is performing at the 2016 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, but, unlike the others, this concert will be leaning much more in the direction of free jazz.
Ernst Reijseger was exhausted.
The celebrated Dutch cellist and composer had just finished two back-to-back recording sessions for film soundtracks, one for Werner Herzog's latest documentary and the other for an American feature film, when OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed him on July 15.
But one thing did energize him – the thought of just playing, in a series of concerts at the 2016 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival from July 23 to 26.
“Just taking my cello and playing – I'm really looking forward to that.”
This week, he's in Ottawa for the very first time, playing four concerts (two free, two ticketed) at the festival. They'll range from a short introductory concert and interview, to a solo show for children, to a celebration of the cello with 11 other cellists, to completely free improvised jazz. But all of them will be informed by Reijseger's iconoclastic approach to the cello and the different sounds he creates with it.
Heather Gibson, the newly appointed producer of NAC Presents and the current executive director of the Halifax Jazz Festival, has a greater familiarity with jazz than her predecessor. But it's unclear if she has the mandate and will take the opportunity to present jazz on Canada's National Arts Centre (NAC) stages which will represent the breadth and quality of Canadian jazz musicians.
Citing her extensive and relevant experience, the NAC enthusiastically announced her appointment today. "We are so fortunate to be welcoming Heather Gibson to the National Arts Centre where she will help us deepen our relationship with Canada’s best singer-songwriters,” said Peter Herrndorf, the President and CEO of the National Arts Centre.
Gibson takes her post on September 20, in advance of the formal October 13 launch of NAC Presents.
The series is the only NAC series which can present jazz at the NAC, although a few jazz performances were part of the Orchestra's performances in recent years. NAC Presents announced the first half of its 2016-17 season in May, with relatively few jazz-related performances. More concerts will be announced in October. Based on previous years, the 31 shows listed on July 20 are half of a normal 60-show series.
This fall at the NAC, listeners will be able to hear hear Diana Krall, and a young jazz trio from Montreal, and the return of Petr Cancura's Crossroads series – plus several other jazz crossover shows. But the scheduled concerts nowhere near reflect the diversity of jazz in Canada, both in styles and where musicians are from, or its quality and popularity – or what listeners just heard at Gibson's own Halifax Jazz Festival.
Canadian jazz pianist Oliver Jones – now 81 years old – is on a extended farewell tour, which is taking him across Canada and into Europe and the Caribbean. He sold out the National Arts Centre Theatre in May, and is back in Ottawa tonight for a concert with a quite different repertoire.
It's part of the Music & Beyond chamber music festival, and appropriately enough, it will demonstrate his classical music origins and his continuing interest in composers which include Bach and Chopin, but not in a standard classical style. He'll also pay tribute to his friend and mentor, Oscar Peterson, in the second half of the show, joined by his long-time trio-mates Éric Lagacé on bass and Jim Doxas on drums.
This afternoon, OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Jones about his tour, his future plans, and how he keeps challenging himself on this tour with different repertoire.
OttawaJazzScene.ca: I'd like to start by asking you how your farewell tour has been going.
Oliver Jones: So far everything's been excellent. Ten out of the eleven places have been sold out, so we're kind of happy about that. But it's a lot of traveling and going from way out west up to the Yukon and then back down to Toronto and then back up to Edmonton and Victoria and Vancouver. So It's been hectic, as far as that's concerned, but it's been very, very rewarding.
OttawaJazzScene.ca: What kind of response have you been getting from the audiences?
Ottawa saxophonist and composer Doug Martin was deeply impressed with Cuba and its remarkable people on the two trips he's taken there – so much so that he's releasing a CD inspired by them.
Called Spirit of Survival, the CD will be officially released this Friday and Saturday night, when Martin's quartet performs at the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.
But Martin emphasizes that the music he's written for the CD is not Cuban in style. Like his previous CD, Odyssey , it's based on his experiences rather than directly reflecting the music he heard there.
“I wrote music as I would write it, not as a Cuban would write it.”
The music was based on “my own feelings and my own impressions of places and people,” he said – inspired by everything from Cuba's troubled history, to locations in Havana, to his favourite Cuban liqueur. The front cover illustration is based on a photo Martin took of the Havana skyline.
After his first trip to Cuba in October, 2012, Martin wrote the CD's title track, “Spirit of Survival”, based on the people he met.
The song is “very happy and upbeat”, he said, because it reflects the attitudes of Cuban people, “their approach to life. They live in a situation which is less than ideal, of course, and in spite of that, they have this approach to life which I find a bit remarkable.”
Updated July 13, 2016
July is a great time for jazz stay-cation in Ottawa. On this month are five local music festivals which include at least some jazz shows, a local jazz CD release, and jazz concerts and club shows all over town.
Appearing in July are seasoned jazz pianist Tommy Banks, jive musician Joe Jackson, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, pianist Oliver Jones, drummer Tim Shia, saxophonist Petr Cancura with two Brooklyn musicians, Dutch improvising cellist Ernst Reijseger, percussionist Jesse Stewart, baritone saxophonist David Mott, drummer Dafnis Prieto, guitarist Kevin Breit, saxophonist Jane Bunnett with her Cuban-based group Maqueque, guitarist Mike Rud, violinist Drew Jurecka, clarinetist James Campbell, bassist Dave Young, pianist Gene DiNovi, vocalist Terez Montcalm with pianist Lorraine Desmarais – and a saxophone quartet with the delightful name of Syrène Saxofoonkwartet.
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The month opens with the final three days of the Ottawa Jazz Festival (read the full schedule). Then in short order follow four more festivals: Music & Beyond, Bluesfest, Chamberfest, and Le Festival de Jazz Desjardins. First up are Music & Beyond (for classical music) and the Ottawa Bluesfest (for everything else).
Music & Beyond has often showcased jazz musicians who also have a classical side. This year, it has two – both of whom started playing before many of OttawaJazzScene.ca's readers were born.
Tuesday, July 5: the 79-year-old pianist Tommy Banks will appear with trumpeter Jens Lindemann at Dominion Chalmers United Church. In the first set, they'll perform both classical pieces and compositions by Duke Ellington and Jerome Kern, with the NAC Orchestra. In the second set, Banks and Lindemann will join up with well-known Montreal jazz musicians bassist Éric Lagacé and drummer Dave Laing to perform a tribute to Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
OttawaJazzScene.ca's July jazz highlights are brought to you by Barry Cooper, GigSpace, Adrian Matte, James McGowan, Alexander Mommers, Debbie Reinhart, Marcia Rodriguez, Bernard Stepien, and John Upper. We greatly appreciate their financial support that helps OttawaJazzScene.ca to continue serving the jazz community every day of the year.
This article was substantially updated from the first version released April 6, 2016, to reflect further concerts added to the festival.
The Ottawa Chamber Music Festival will showcase Cuban and avant-garde jazz in its 2016 edition, with performances by Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, renowned Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, guitarist Kevin Breit, violinist Drew Jurecka, and cellist Ernst Reijseger – plus a tribute to Duke Ellington.
The festival, which will run from July 21 to August 3, 2016, is again complementing its core classical offerings with late-night jazz and improvised music – even combining them in some cases.
Chamberfest will offer its late-night concerts at the recently-reopened La Nouvelle Scène on King Edward Avenue in Lowertown, with that location replacing St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts.
Saturday, July 23: The Syrène Saxofoonkwartet consists of four women saxophonists from the Netherlands, playing soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone sax. The previous day, they are scheduled to play a classical show, but on Saturday, their repertoire for their free outdoor show in the National Gallery Amphitheatre is ragtime and jazz. At 1 p.m., they'll open with Leonard Bernstein's “Overture to Candide”, and then move to classic rags like “The Maple Leaf Rag” and “Kitten on the Keys”, before ending with George Gershwin's “An American in Paris”.
Saturday, July 23: wunderkind Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger is a featured artist this year at Chamberfest, playing classical music, freely improvised music, and his own compositions. He'll be introduced to the festival at a short, free snapshot concert at 5:45 p.m. at Dominion Chalmers United Church. [Read our interview with Reijseger.]
Saturday, July 23: Jazz composer Claude Bolling mixes “Baroque elegance with modern technique” in his Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio. The eight movements are based on mostly classical dance forms, with mainstream jazz segments (and a few vintage ones) inserted around and under the violin soloist – and with the rhythm section propelling each movement and adding lots of swing. This performance at La Nouvelle Scène features Alexandre DaCosta on violin and Graham Wood on jazz piano, along with Éric Lagacé on double-bass (seen here with Oliver Jones) and Dave Laing (Christine Jensen's drummer) on percussion. The second half of the concert will include pieces by Dizzy Gillespie, Michel Legrand, and Lennon & McCartney.
Veteran Canadian jazz saxophonist P.J. Perry has been made a member of the Order of Canada, according to the list released by the Governor-General's office today.
The 75-year-old Perry, who lives in Edmonton, is still active on the jazz scene, touring and recording. He was featured on trumpeter Al Muirhead's album, It's About Time, which was nominated for a Juno Award in 2016.
Perry won a jazz Juno Award in 1993 for his album My Ideal, and was nominated for his 1999 recording with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He also played on the Rob McConnell Tentet's Juno-winning album in 2001.
According to his website, he's “shared the stage with countless jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Shaw, Michel LeGrand, Pepper Adams, Kenny Wheeler, Tom Harrell, Rob McConnell, Slide Hampton, Herb Spanier, Bobby Shew, Fraser McPherson, Tommy Banks, Joe LaBarbera, Clarence “Big” Miller, Red Rodney and many more talented artists, to numerous to list here"
"Recently, he was a featured soloist on the hit 2010 Broadway production of Come Fly Away, highlighting the songs of Frank Sinatra.”
The Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Other jazz musicians who have been awarded this honour include vocalist Molly Johnson, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, drummer Archie Alleyne, pianist Lorraine Desmarais, trombonist Ian McDougall, vocalist Ranee Lee, pianist Oscar Peterson, pianist Oliver Jones, pianist Paul Bley, guitarist Sonny Greenwich, multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson, bassist Michel Donato, and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.
– Alayne McGregor
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- Kirk MacDonald & Pat LaBarbera are back in town, celebrating musical friendships
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- A rural county excited by jazz: what Prince Edward County Jazz Festival does differently
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- Andrew Ferderber's A+ graduation performance, and how he got there
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- Fawn Fritzen matches originals with vocal jazz classics in a finely-tuned show
- Ed Lister's hard-swinging tribute Wednesday to Duke Ellington's classic music
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- Miles Ahead, but not in reality (movie review)
- Michael Kaeshammer and his audience have fun with energetic and varied music
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- The Sultans of String create an improvised collaboration with Indian sitar
- Polished performances from the Carleton University student Jazz Ensemble
- Garry Elliott and Steve Boudreau add new voices and viewpoints to their music
- Students fuse genres to create new music in year-end Carleton University concert
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- HML Trio's weekly Brookstreet Options jazz jam celebrates three years of 'good music and a great hang' this week
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