The breadth of Canadian jazz talent will be on display at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival, including more artists from Western Canada.
Many musicians not seen recently in Ottawa – John Stetch, Brad Turner, Peggy Lee, Vic Vogel, Jon Ballantyne, and Seamus Blake – will appear, along with some new names like Tyson Naylor, Alan Jones, and Roberto López.
Several of these are hidden in less-expected series or under less-obvious band names. But there's an advantage to that, too – you get to hear them play with new people and feature new material!
Festival programming director Petr Cancura told OttawaJazzScene.ca that the wider geographic range this year was deliberate: “We really sat down and said, 'Let's make the Great Canadian series a cross-Canada thing – you know, really work hard on that'.” When all the jazz festivals in Canada met together in November, he said, they decided to “really try to represent each part of the country. So we stuck to it. We didn't back out.”
There will also be some impressive locally-connected groups playing the Main Stage, the NAC or Dominion Chalmers – the Stretch Orchestra, Kellylee Evans, Los Gringos, Rob Frayne's Dream Band, and the Souljazz Orchestra – which you can read about in our Local Artists story.
Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's guide to some of the best Canadians or Canadian expats appearing at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival.
The first is a concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Oscar-nominated animated film, The Triplets of Belleville. Montreal guitarist Benoit Charest wrote the soundtrack to that movie, and won a French César Award for it. He was also nominated for a Grammy and an Oscar for one of its songs. He will be recreating the soundtrack on-stage, in a seven-piece band that includes Chet Doxas, keyboardist Dan Thouin, and drummer Jim Doxas, and instruments which range from tuba, vibraphone, and foley to vacuum-cleaner. OttawaJazzScene.ca heard Chet Doxas play an high-energy show together with Charest and Thouin at the 2012 Montreal Jazz Festival: see our review with photos.
The Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer (Gatineau), which runs from July 24 to 27, is focusing on vocalists this year, with performances by Montreal singer Coral Egan, Ottawa vocalist Renée Yoxon, and Toronto's The Sicilian Jazz Project featuring the rich voice of Dominic Mancuso.
But instrumentals won't be ignored, with a performance by a trio that includes Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart and Toronto baritone saxophonist David Mott.
The festival, which is free to attend, is now in its 27th year. It is presented outdoors in le Parc de l'Imaginaire, immediately opposite the Aylmer Marina and beside Le Centre d'expostion L'Imagier (9 Front Street, in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau). [view map]
Listeners should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets, because seating is not provided. And they should hope for clear skies, because concerts are canceled in the event of rain.
The first three Wednesdays in July preceding the festival will also see music in the park, sponsored by the city of Gatineau.
Three different jazz eras on three different blocks – that's what you could hear on Preston Street on Friday night, during the free Italian Week Festival activities.
Furthest north was Cuppa Soup Combo, whose repertoire is mostly from the 1920s and 30s: the start of jazz. They played toe-tapping music like “Pennies from Heaven” – particularly appropriate since they were rattling donation cups for the Shepherds of Good Hope as they always do.
As one band member announced, the group includes the only member of the Ottawa local of the Musicians Union who officially plays washboard: Sanders Mommers. He ended their first set with a bravura performance with thimbles, cowbells, cymbals and all!
A few blocks up was the Richard Page Quartet, who played mostly hard bop and postbop from the late 50s and 60s: the Hank Mobley and Art Blakey generation. Page was playing a tenor sax which he had recently rescued from being a plant stand. He just got it back this week from being refurbished, and was getting used to it; it produced a strong, rich sound which suited their repertoire.
Growing up in the interior of British Columbia, Ottawa trumpeter Craig Pedersen heard a lot of country and cowboy music. In fact, one of the towns he lived in, Williams Lake, has the second-largest Stampede in Canada.
And while Pedersen's musical tastes have long since veered to jazz, classical, and free improvisation, he's always had fond memories of the music he heard in that “dusty cowboy town” during his most important childhood years.
When he was recording his quartet's CD, Days Like Today, in 2011, he proposed including the Willie Nelson ballad, “Crazy”. The group played it, considered it, and told Craig that it sounded better as a duet between him and the bassist, Joel Kerr.
And that's how that song instead ended up in the middle of Pedersen's and Kerr's new duo album, It's a Free Country.
The album is being officially released this week with a six-city tour starting Tuesday in Quebec City, followed by Trois-Rivieres, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, and finally Ottawa on Sunday. The Ottawa show will be part of the IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais) series that Pedersen co-created and still organizes.
Pedersen describes the album as a “bridge between traditional music and free improvisation, both to the listeners and performer, providing a vehicle for expression and connection not always otherwise available independently in these styles.”
“Both Joel and I love music so much and we love so many different types of music, and I think for us the lines are very, very, very blurry. I think one of the reasons Joel and I get along is that we both have a strong classical background, but in that classical background, we've played a lot of jazz music, we've played rock music and folk music, and contemporary music, and contemporary classical. And so for us, there was never a question of being lines or divisions between these different types of music. So the thing that both of us actively pursue is improvised music, and so why not also improvised music and folk music?”
In other words, it's cowboy music – and free improv – as you haven't heard it before.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 5 p.m.
Tickets: $25 (dinner included). Reservations required. Spaces limited.
"Le grand chef, Gy resto-traiteur, viendra, de sa main experte, faire de ce repas un festin digne d'Astérix et Obélix.
En accompagnement, un musicien hors pair, Servantes (Patrice Servant). Venez déguster notre sanglier de la Petite Nation braisé sur feu de bois."
- Patrice Servant - guitar, vocals
Rechristened Servantes by his fellow musicians, Patrice Servant has been playing the guitar on stage since he was six years old. His album Bluesy Andalucy (2010) is a blend of flamenco, Latin and jazz in the style of Chick Corea, Pat Metheny or Paco De Lucia, with a touch of his Canadian roots. Servantes' talented musicians will perform a subtle blend of musical genres, including flamenco, jazz, Latin, bluegrass and classical.
Café aux quatre jeudis
44 Laval St.
Note that the jam has been moved back one day to avoid conflicting with the Ottawa Jazz Festival, for this month only.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.
June Host Band: Tim Leah Combo
- Pat Kelly – guitar
- Rob Ward – guitar
- Brian Kirk – saxophones
- Craig Reid - trumpet
- Lance Schwerdfager – electric bass
- Tim Leah – drums
Come early to get a good seat for the host band's opening set and and sign up for the jam, and open jam immediately follows at 9:15pm.
Jam sessions are normally held on the third Thursday of the month from September to June. Each month's jam session is hosted by a different combo/group formed primarily from JazzWorks participants.
Whether you're a jazz lover, or jazz instrumentalist or vocalist at any level, you are most welcome to join the fun with the improvised blend of the familiar and unexpected. Musicians of intermediate level and up are encouraged to participate in the jam. If you will be calling a tune, you must bring at least three copies of lead sheets in your concert C key for other musicians, and charts for Bb and Eb instruments would be appreciated by horn players.
The Carleton Tavern
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale, one block north of Wellington St. West, and immediately north of the Parkdale Market)
Easy access by OC Transpo: Tunney's Pasture transit station, and routes #2, #14, #16, #86, #176 are all within walking distance.
See OttawaJazzScene.ca's previous coverage of the JazzWorks jams:
One of the peculiarities of jazz in Ottawa is that you almost always find it downtown or west of downtown. With a few exceptions like Groovy's, east-end venues haven't presented jazz.
So it was delightful and unexpected to hear a jazz duo – tenor sax and guitar – at a Vietnamese restaurant in the south-east end of Orléans, on June 1.
Bernard Stepien, a 40-year veteran of Ottawa's jazz scene and longtime host of the jazz radio show Rabble Without a Cause on CKCU-FM, played saxophone. He teamed up with Nathan Corr on guitar; Corr just graduated from the music program at Carleton University, and won the student competition at Guitar Now! in May.
They ended up at Hanoi Pho (on Innes Road near Tenth Line) because Stepien knew the owner; they worked together in high tech years ago.
The duo played bebop and standards to a reasonably full house, and was greeted by steady applause and lots of interest between sets. For their last set, they were joined by Dr. Mortimer Katz on clarinet – who has been around the local jazz scene even longer than Stepien!
Three jazz radio hosts on CKCU (93.1 FM) will preview the musicians playing at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival this month. Each has already presented one festival preview show in the first week of June.
You can hear all these shows (and the ones below, after broadcast) on the Internet at cod.ckcufm.com; just search for the specific show.
Sunday, June 23 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Swing is in the Air host Vince Rimbach will interview festival programming director Petr Cancura about Cancura's picks for the festival, plus his just-released album, Down Home. Rimbach will also interview Ottawa guitarist Garry Elliott and pianist Steve Boudreau about their new CD, Pre-Dawn Skies, which they will present in a free festival concert on Saturday, June 29 at noon at the Rideau Centre.
Wednesday, June 12 from 9-11 p.m.: Ron Sweetman will broadcast his second show of 2013 festival recommendations on In a Mellow Tone. He will play cuts by artists appearing in the Improv Invitational Series, Studio Series, and OLG Late Night Shows Series. Sweetman has been pointing listeners to the gems in the festival lineups for more than three decades.
See our story about how he makes his picks.
Wednesday, June 12 from 11 p.m. to midnight: Bernard Stepien will present his second of three festival shows on Rabble Without a Cause. He will concentrate on the avant-garde musicians appearing in the Improv Invitational series including saxophonist Peter van Huffel, vocalist Monica Akihary (in Boi Akih), and drummer Mike Reed, as well as Tin Men and the Telephone, who play with found sound, and Ottawa composer Rob Frayne's Dream Band. You can hear Stepien's third set of festival picks on June 19.
A group of musicians with broad musical experience got together to play jazz-anchored music among the visual art in the Cube Gallery on Sunday, June 2.
Charley Gordon (trumpet and flugelhorn), Vince Halfhide, (guitar and vocals), Scott Warren (drums) and Ann Downey (bass and vocals) have been playing together for ten years, although sometimes with long gaps between concerts.
Their concert's two sets included music from a broad repertoire: original songs by Gordon, and tunes by Hoagy Carmichael, Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits, and Ottawa folk icon Bill Hawkins. The pieces ranged from slow folk-rock ballads, to blues, to jazz standards. The musicians took time to talk about the songs, sometimes with personal or humorous anecdotes.
Editor Alayne McGregor and I had a great time appearing on two CKCU FM 93.1 jazz shows in the past few days. We talked about some of the music we are personally looking forward to hearing at this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival.
Bernard Stepien, host of CKCU's excellent avant-garde jazz program, Rabble Without A Cause (RWAC), and Vince Rimbach, one of the warm and knowledgeable hosts of Swing Is In The Air, played some wonderful tunes from some of the musicians we enthused about.
You can listen to the shows on CKCU On Demand, anytime. Hear our all-Canadian selections and why we think you should check out these musicians and their Ottawa Jazz Festival concerts.
– Brett Delmage
- Ottawa Jazz Festival 2013 lineup: what's on
- 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival jams move 3.5 km west to Hintonburg
- Jazzfest 2013: Local musicians you will want to hear
- Stellar year for young Ottawa musicians at 2013 MusicFest Canada
- Gaby Warren's years as a jazz fan recognized at CD launch (review)
- Split Cycle plays intricately-woven modern jazz (review)
- Next concert in John Geggie Invitational series may be the last
- The community celebrates Ottawa Jazz Hero Roddy Ellias (video)
- Gaby Warren: a jazz fanatic steps to the other side of the footlights
- No Ottawa Jazz Festival jam sessions in 2013? Listeners object.
- Jeff Johnston Trio enraptures the audience (review)
- Kellylee Evans to appear again at NAC Presents
- 2013 Montreal Jazz Festival celebrates pianists – and the late Dave Brubeck
- Roddy Ellias: a humble Jazz Hero
- Jeff Johnston returns to his trio's musical roots and then moves forward with his new album
- Evandro Gracelli brings Brazilian warmth to Ottawa for three busy weeks
- Energetic music attracts a packed house at Rimbombante CD release show
- Expecting the unexpected at Saturday's GigSpace concert of improvising composers
- Listeners get JazzED at 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup announcement
- Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra - in the making (video)
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