Ottawa musical improviser, visual artist, found sound artist, and Juno award-winning jazz musician Jesse Stewart launched Winterlude last Friday with its first live performance, "Memories of Ice".
Recorded fragments from ice instruments he built and played at Winterlude in 2011 were combined with live performance on an icy-looking drumset, and his new, electronic instrument that was front-and-centre: the "Reactable". The projection from his manipulation of the Reactable and sound from the performance kept the attentive Confederation Park audience pretty well frozen during the twenty-minute performance, despite the relatively balmy temperature of -9C.
You can catch versions of this improvised performance again at 8 p.m. (20h) this Friday and Saturday (February 7, 8) and again next weekend on February 14, 15 at the Winterlude Confederation Park Stage. It's in the same location as the summer Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage. All performances are free as part of the Winterlude Festival.
Jesse Stewart has some notable (and warmer!) concerts coming up in the next while too. On February 28 he will perform with Jane Bunnett, Roddy Ellias, and John Geggie at GigSpace. On March 14, he will perform as part of the Sonoluminescence Trio with William Parker and David Mott, also at GigSpace.
– Brett Delmage
Full disclosure: Jesse Stewart has licensed photos and videos produced independently by OttawaJazzScene.ca for our own editorial needs.
The 2014 Juno Award nominations, announced February 4, have recognized many jazz musicians whom you could have heard in Ottawa or Gatineau recently.
In the Vocal Jazz category, guitarist Mike Rud's Notes On Montréal, which features singer Sienna Dahlen, is up against albums by Amy McConnell, Erin Propp, and Matt Dusk. Rud is a frequent visitor to Ottawa and introduced many of the songs in this album in a GigSpace concert. As well, the vocal trio of Sonia Johnson, Charles Biddle Jr. & Annie Poulain is nominated for their album Triades; they'll bring that to Gatineau on April 17.
In the Contemporary Jazz category, Trifolia, who appeared at the 2013 Ottawa jazz festival, is nominated for Le Refuge; Brandi Disterheft, who appeared in the NAC Presents series, for Gratitude; Christine Jensen, who will be here for the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival, for her big band album, Habitat; and Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, who were at the 2011 Ottawa Jazz Festival, for Brooklyn Babylon.
For Traditional Jazz Album, William Carn and Tara Davidson, who appeared with John Geggie in his Invitational concert at the NAC in May 2013, are nominated for the Carn Davidson 9's album, Nine. Phil Dwyer and Don Thompson introduced their latest album, Look for the Silver Lining, to a very appreciative audience at Chamberfest last July; and it's nominated in this category. (Dwyer will be back in Gatineau March 2 with a trio.) Also in contention is Our Second Set by John MacLeod & His Rex Hotel Orchestra; MacLeod brought his music to the Carleton University Jazz Camp for a concert there in August, 2012. Bassist Mike Downes, who appeared here with Molly Johnson last spring, is nominated for his album Ripple Effect.
A hub for Ottawa-Gatineau's music community, to develop musicians and encourage audiences for all genres of music, including jazz. That's the vision of “FOLKRUM”.
It's the dream of local arts administrator Kim Lymburner, who introduced it at a public meeting January 30. The non-profit project would act as a learning, mentoring, and networking location by day, and a performance space by night, he said. It is planned to include
- a 4500- sq. ft. space, to be used as a meeting space, for workshops, and for musician career development (but not music instruction)
- a 200-seat concert space within the larger space, resizable to smaller spaces as necessary
- a cafe and a bar
According to the group's website, the name FOLKRUM unites “folk” (for community) and “fulcrum” (a point of rest, support, or leverage).
- The Jazz Scene: growing here and shrinking there
- Series come, series go
- People: losses and achievements
- Fewer visiting musicians?
- Festivals brought in new music
- Diverse CDs released
- What you were interested in
- OttawaJazzScene.ca's year in jazz
- Read the complete article
Do you have any comments about Ottawa-Gatineau's jazz scene in 2013 or this story? Please share them by email or in the OttawaJazzScene.ca Facebook group. We'd be delighted to hear from you!
Depending on how you looked at it the Ottawa-Gatineau jazz scene was either half empty or half-full in 2013. It was a year of expansion and contraction; it was a year of major achievements and major losses.
A new Afrocentric jazz group will have its second outing Monday, born out of learning a new instrument and the overlap among local jazz groups.
Pierre Chrétien, best known as the keyboardist/composer in the Souljazz Orchestra, started learning and experimenting with the vibraphone last spring. So when his fellow Souljazz member, Zakari Frantz, invited him to curate a Jazz Monday at Le Petit Chicago last October, it seemed like a good opportunity to unveil the vibes in public.
The lineup was Chrétien, plus three members of the Jazz Monday house band: Frantz on alto sax, Mike Essoudry on drums, and Joe Hincke on bass. They were joined for that evening only by Montreal trumpeter Rachel Therrien.
And the vibe that night was so intense and satisfying that they're back this Monday at Le Petit Chicago, with a proper name for the group: the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble. Chrétien has now written originals for the ensemble – “at least a dozen brand-new never-before-heard original tunes”.
He described their music on Facebook as a “musical collision, in the middle of the Atlantic, between North American and African streams of jazz, resulting in a new, previously unknown world of sounds. Deep, spiritual, and modal excursions for the true jazz lovers out there.”
For Monday, they'll just be a quartet, but Frantz said they would be joined by trumpeter Ed Lister when he returns from cruise ship work in a few months.
Their first show attracted a full house to Le Petit Chicago on October 28, 2013, and filled the Gatineau bar with grooving, complex music.
Ottawa audiences will get the very first chance to hear a new trio this weekend – featuring three musicians active in jazz and chamber music scenes.
Guitarist Roddy Ellias, multi-instrumentalist Petr Cancura, and cellist Andrew Downing have formed a trio called trekan. They'll play chamber jazz, with perhaps a touch of bluegrass and Turkish music, at GigSpace on Saturday.
This will be their first public performance, Ellias told OttawaJazzScene.ca, although they recorded a three-song demo together three to four months ago and have been talking and sending around music since.
Saturday will also be a rare chance for Ottawa listeners to hear Cancura in concert. Despite regularly returning to Ottawa from Brooklyn for his job as programming manager of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, he hasn't performed publicly in Ottawa since last June's festival, and infrequently before then in the past five years. Downing, from Toronto, has visited Ottawa regularly in the last year, playing in groups led by Nick Fraser, Jayme Stone, and David Occhipinti.
Ellias said he really enjoyed playing with Cancura and Downing.
“They're both really good writers. They're both really good improvisers, who listen, and we have similar aesthetics. We like a wide variety of things and we like to take chances and do different things and like free playing. And we're very compatible people, which is important.”
Cancura and Ellias have had a longstanding arrangement to play together whenever Cancura's in Ottawa.
“He's in town once a month so he comes over to my house and we play. We love doing a duo, but we thought it would be nice to maybe make this into a trio. And we racked our brains and came up with Andrew. I'd been wanting to do something with Andrew and he with me for a long time, and I think Petr had already done some work with him, so it turns out to be a great fit,” Ellias said.
With a broad grin, a strong sense of rhythm, and deft fingers, pianist Clayton Connell has made an increasing place for himself in the Ottawa jazz scene over the last few years. And now he's about to try his luck in Europe, after winning a major scholarship and entrance to a renowned Austrian university.
But he'd sure like the help and attention of Ottawa jazz lovers first, for a concert on Wednesday.
It's the graduation recital for his B.Music degree at Carleton University. But as you can tell from the title – Jazz: A Soirée with Clayton Connell – this will be more elaborate than just a final performance adjudication.
He's including horns, a string quartet, and his current jazz ensemble, Sugar Jazz. The concert will be a tribute to the diversity of music taught at Carleton, he said, with a wide range of different styles.
The admission fees will help pay for his next term of studies at a renowned music school in Graz, Austria, from mid-February to early July, where he will study jazz piano.
The Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst (University for Music and the Performing Arts) has a “very significant jazz program, the strongest I think in the university world in Europe, certainly that part of Europe and arguably all of Europe,” says Dr. James Wright, the Supervisor of Performance Studies in Carleton's Music Department.
Swirling lines, frenetic melodies, bright rhythms: all those were part of the very different sound of Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio at Le Petit Chicago on December 30.
Wellman – together with drummer Mike Essoudry and bassist Joe Hincke – has melded the folk melodies and styles of the Balkans with the klezmer/free jazz style of John Zorn's Masada to create fast-paced and energetic music. The nearest comparison? In Ottawa it would be the Mash Potato Mashers – which Essoudry leads and Wellman plays in – although that is more marching band music.
Combined with the group's original compositions (with titles like “The Trickle Down Doesn't Get Very Far” and “Below the Poverty Line”), it was an intense set list that kept the crowd at the Gatineau bar primarily listening and applauding appreciatively.
Essoudry changed his drum kit for the set, replacing his regular snare and tom with higher-pitched versions, substituting a greater number of smaller cymbals for normal large ones, and adding a tambourine on top of his hi-hat – all of which created a sound quite different from his usual jazz style. Wellman on alto sax and Hincke on bass also reflected very different Balkan rhythms in their playing.
A few days before Christmas, three Ottawa jazz vocalists teamed up with three local jazz instrumentalists to benefit a venue they enjoy performing at: GigSpace Performance Studio.
Despite two huge snowstorms that walloped Ottawa in the previous few days, Elise Letourneau, Karen Oxorn, and Nicole Ratté, presented Jazzin' the Holidays to a capacity audience. Performing songs ranging from traditional carols to Christmas favourites to songs which have become jazz standards, from serious to humorous, and in both English and French, they gave each their own twist.
GigSpace board member and concert bassist Mark Alcorn said the fundraising event raised more than $1100. Fellow board member and guitarist Tim Bedner said that GigSpace is becoming more popular with local and touring musicians, with events booked as far away as June, 2014.
OttawaJazzScene.ca was there and recorded the concert to give you a taste of the experience. Watch our video after the turn.
Find out more about GigSpace and how to make a donation (it's a registered charity) at gigspaceottawa.com
– Alayne McGregor
It was thirteen years lucky on December 19, as vocalist Gaby Warren again led his group to host the annual pre-Christmas JazzWorks jam at the Carleton Tavern.
It's a tradition for Warren to bring his favourite local jazz musicians – Rob Frayne on Nord organ, Linsey Wellman on alto sax, Alrick Huebener on bass, Mike Essoudry on drums – together at the December jam to play his favourite jazz classics. This year, they were joined by guitarist Garry Elliott, and were dubbed (the ever-changing group name is another tradition) “Ana's Santas”. That was in honour of Warren's wife, Ana, who celebrated a very significant birthday the day before.
The repertoire was more jazz than Christmas, starting with John Coltrane's “Equinox”, continuing through “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” from the little-known musical The Nervous Set; and ending with “Bacchanal” by Kenny Barron.
This year, Warren released his first CD as leader, and included two songs in this set-list for which he wrote the lyrics: Sam Rivers' “Beatrice”, and Miles Davis' “Nardis”. The latter was recorded but eventually had to be left off the album because he couldn't get permission from Davis' estate.
But the music did turn Christmas-y for one song: “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, for which Warren put on a knitted hat which was an amazing example of Christmas kitsch. It had not only a red Santa hat, but also a 3D snowman section with black eyes and carrot nose, and long earflaps ending in small Christmas balls!
Wellman and Elliott in particular had a chance to shine with several melodic and vehement solos, but all the musicians added to the fine post-bop collaboration.Warren did occasionally have to ask the audience to tone down its conversations so that the group's musical artistry could be fully heard and appreciated.
The AlphaSoul Café in Hintonburg, a regular jazz venue and the location of the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival jams, is closing its doors.
Its last music night will be Saturday, December 21, with the Berekete Afrobeat Band, organized by local saxophonist Adrian Matte. On Friday December 20, Matte's quartet will hold down the café's last jazz show, as they have on Fridays for the last 2 1/3 years.
Owner Rachel Russo said the reason for closing was simple: she and Maxine (her daughter and co-owner) were worn out, after non-stop 12-hour days since April, 2011.
“We're exhausted. We've lost two significant members of our family in the last year and it's just too much. We just need to take a break and stop.”
She said they would continue the AlphaSoul name and looking to create a new art-and-music venture starting in late spring or early summer, 2014 – but not a restaurant.
“AlphaSoul is music. It's really more about music than it is about a restaurant. Anybody can have a restaurant; there's lots of them around. But to create music is different. We need to hear their voices, so it's been really exciting in that respect. I hope to continue introducing music because AlphaSoul is not dead. It's going to keep on going. We just don't know its transformation yet.”
Russo owns the Wellington Street West location and said she would be looking to rent it to a new restaurant, but there is no guarantee a new venue would feature music.
Matte said he was told in mid-November, along with the restaurant staff, that the restaurant would be closing just before Christmas. “The sense I got from Rachel was that they weren't making enough money to sustain it.”
“We weren't filling the place every time we had music,” Russo said. “Oftentimes of course we did, but it would be nice to have just in the theatre they call it, more butts in seats, you know. So that time will come. I think it's more in the future. In a couple years I think this area will be really hopping. And so for us it's an opportunity to go and do more exciting things. We're still going to be part of the music scene but in a different way, without the bricks and mortar.”
- The Adrian Matte Quartet heated up AlphaSoul on a frosty night
- Jamie Baum and Jane Bunnett: two voices in close conversation (review)
- CYJO brings a century of music to life in first 2013-14 concert
- Ottawa Jazz Festival shows a 2013 surplus, mainly from non-jazz acts and beer
- Capital Vox remembers Dave Brubeck through both his words and music
- Jamie Baum and Jane Bunnett bring new, Indian-influenced music to life
- Bryn Roberts returns to making his own, lyrical music
- Diverse concerts sell out to Ottawa audiences
- Roddy Ellias stops fidgeting and hits the Record button
- Donations to jazz radio shows fall while CKCU exceeds funding target
- David Occhipinti in Ottawa Friday afternoon to debut his new chamber jazz CD
- An early and jazzy start to Christmas
- IMOOfest to return after financial break-even and artistic successes
- IMOOfest 2013 Night 3: unpacking the music (review)
- IMOOfest 2013 Night 2: stretching the rules (review)
- IMOOfest 2013 Night 1: a huge dynamic range (review)
- Will Accordion Conspiracy take over IMOOfest? (video)
- Organ-ic fusion fills the church (review)
- Phil Nimmons and David Braid reinvent their music with each concert
- Ensemble SuperMusique takes a chance with IMOO at Club SAW
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