See our story about the 2013 Chamberfest.
The Ottawa Chamberfest may be best known for Beethoven, Bartók, and Bach – but as far as festival artistic director Roman Borys is concerned, jazz belongs there too.
And that's what he's programmed again for the 2012 festival, primarily in the late-night ChamberFringe series. It features major Canadian jazz musicians, and international stars like Steve Swallow and Dave Douglas.
“A lot of this has to do with my own personal passion for the expressive power of jazz and I just believe that it belongs. It's perfectly positioned at the end of a wonderful listening day.”
Although best known as a classical cellist and as a member of the chamber ensemble The Gryphon Trio, Borys himself has played with jazz musicians. In fact, the first jazz-related concert, Cuban Connection (Saturday, July 28), features well-known Toronto Latin jazz musicians Hilario Duran and Roberto Occhipinti and Vancouver saxophonist Phil Dwyer, along with the Gryphon Trio.
Other jazz-related concerts include:
- Mark Fewer @ 40 (Monday, July 30)
- Chamber Elements (Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5)
- Quatour Ebène (Wednesday, August 8)
- Riverside (Chet Doxas, Steve Swallow, Dave Douglas, and Jim Doxas) (Wednesday, August 8)
- The Lemon Bucket Orchestra (Thursday, August 9)
The festival's Waterway Soundfaire, free outdoor concerts on the afternoon of Saturday, August 4 in conjunction with the Rideau Canal Authority, will also feature jazz-related groups like Mike Essoudry's Mash Potato Mashers.
Cuban Connection (Saturday, July 28)
While the Gryphon Trio has played regular concerts at the Lula Lounge in Toronto with the Hilario Durán Trio over the last decade, this Chamberfest concert will be one of the rare occasions they've appeared together outside Toronto, because of their very diverse schedules.
The Cuban in the title comes from pianist Durán, originally from Cuba and well-known for his Cuban-influenced playing and composition. Most of the pieces in the concert will be written by him or by bassist Roberto Occhipinti, with the possible inclusion of a few standard Cuban pieces arranged by Durán. Borys said it was a “very well-developed collaboration”, and Durán's and Occhipinti's material was written specifically with the intention of having the classical musicians participate in it.
The IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) series was home to highly approachable soundscapes on Sunday, August 5, in a series of solo and then a duo performances by trumpeters Craig Pedersen (Ottawa) and Ellwood Epps (Montreal).
Long, swirling passages, soothing yet intense, predominated, although there was also more punctuated and up-tempo material – but more on the harmonic rather than the atonal side. Pedersen noted later that the long held tones which he had performed for Chamber Elements twice that weekend may have had a subconscious effect.
In the Question and Answer session at the end, the musicians and audience had engaging discussion about circular breathing and split-tone multiphonics – continuing the recent IMOO tradition of explanations to make the music more accessible.
– Alayne McGregor
1 p.m. Sat, August 4 and Sun. August 5
National Gallery of Canada
Free. Regular Gallery admission fee applies
“I've see so many performances of creative and unconventional music where the audience just looks like they are stapled to their chairs. Maybe they are dancing in their head. What do I know?”
Although he accepts static audiences as the normal type of listening that most Chamber music and jazz listeners experience, that's not what happens in Scott Thomson's site-specific compositions. Instead, he has both the musicians and the audience up and moving around, choosing what they want to play – and want to hear.
And that's what visitors to the National Gallery of Canada will encounter, as the 30-minute Chamber Elements is presented starting at 1 p.m. sharp on this Saturday and Sunday.
On the Gallery's second floor, Thomson said, eight trumpeters and trombonists will start at the Water Court and then will follow separate-but-intersecting routes through the rooms and around the Water and Garden Courts, playing all the while. Meanwhile, thirty singers from the Element Choir Project, conducted by Christine Duncan, will accompany the brass from the first floor of the Courts. At a key point in the performance, in the Garden Court, the piece features a solo by trumpeter Jim Lewis, playing from the balcony, with the choir accompanying him from below.
You can hear jazz in Ottawa's Chinatown every Saturday afternoon until September. Local jazz musicians, who will be well known to OttawaJazzScene.ca readers, will play free outdoor shows as part of the FestivAsia programming sponsored by the Chinatown BIA:
And on Sunday, August 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, vegetarian restaurant ZenKitchen will present saxophonist Nathan Cepelinski and pianist Peter Hum for their Sunday Jazz Brunch. The music is free, although a $15/person minimum purchase is requested.
One of the FestivAsia groups, The In-young Jazz Band (In-young Choung - vocals, Emmanuel Buckshi - guitar, Preston Jennings - bass, and Michel Delage - drums) played two sets of songs in a shaded spot next to the authentic Chinese Kowloon Market, just off Somerset Street, Chinatown's main street, on July 28.
Singer In-young Choung attracted and held the attention of a growing sidewalk audience, with her unique delivery of swinging jazz and other standards, dialogue with the audience, and sense of humour. Her fellow band members performed the tunes playfully, and with a level of musicianship and care that one doesn't always find for free on a street corner.
With the roster of jazz musicians to come, listeners can look forward to a wide variety of excellent free jazz in Chinatown in August. And after you build up an appetite listening to a free outdoor show, you can enjoy eating at one of the many nearby and excellent Chinese restaurants afterwards, or pick up some hard-to-find authentic ingredients to do your own Chinese cooking. Yummy!
– Brett Delmage
Jazz is movement. Watching a group on stage, you'll often see the performers swaying to the music, nodding their heads, tapping their fingers, interpreting the music physically, even when not playing their instrument.
Susanna Hood took it to the next step as she interpreted music through dance at a performance on June 10 in the IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) series at the Umi Café, as well as providing vocals. She performed with trombonist Scott Thomson, and (for the second set) Ottawa drummer and percussionist Jesse Stewart.
In the first set, Thomson and Hood performed a suite of Thomson's songs based on poems by P.K. Page. In the second set, all three improvised.
Hood is an award-winning choreographer and dance artist, as well as an improvising and interpretive vocalist. She and Thomson both play in The Rent (with Nick Fraser, Kyle Brenders, and Wes Neal), originally a Steve Lacy repertory project but now dedicated to playing Thomson’s songs too. They also play together in Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra.
– Alayne McGregor
Montreal trumpeter Rachel Therrien and Ottawa vocalist and IMOO co-coordinator Renée Yoxon first met and played together at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music this spring.
So when Therrien was invited to bring her quintet to the Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer this Saturday, it was natural for her to stay over an extra day and play at IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) – but in a very different, free jazz style from Saturday.
The IMOO performance also featured bassist Marino Vazquez, who was visiting from Mexico and had just recently met Therrien in Montreal. Besides bass, he sang and played percussion and the traditional small Mexican guitar.
The first set started with a completely improvised piece featuring Therrien on trumpet and Vazquez on percussion (including crumpled newspaper and flipped notebook). It was followed by a free jazz piece ("The Seven Movements of a Day's Journey") which Therrien had composed eight years but had never played publicly, which used muted trumpet to produce sounds that ranged from breathy to klaxon, with added vocalese.
Renée Yoxon joined in for the second set, for her very first totally improvised jazz performance. In the first piece, while Yoxon sang improvised wordless vocalese, Therrien sang through her trumpet mute. They ended with a piece which Therrien had composed at Banff: "A Mountain", with a graphic rather than a traditional score. At Banff, it was played by 13 musicians, including four vocalists but no trumpet: here it was interpreted on voice, trumpet, percussion, and bass.
At the end, the musicians continued a new IMOO tradition: a short question and answer session where they explained their backgrounds, the graphic score they used, and some of the pieces they had performed.
Therrien was nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award at this year's Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, and her quintet played an evening concert on one of the festival's main outdoor stages.
– Alayne McGregor
Notes in Triplicate (Nathan Corr on guitar, Nick Maclean on keyboards, and Rick Pearlman on drums) played their debut performance at the Avant-Garde Bar on July 26. The absence of a bass wasn't even noticeable, as the trio celebrated and improvised on a series of mostly up-tempo jazz standards by Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, and Anthony Wilson and Larry Goldings, among others.
Their third set featured an original by Maclean, "Penance", which showed the trio in a more thoughtful mode. The Ottawa-based musicians first started playing together two months ago, and have another gig on August 22 at Pressed.
–We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the donors in our first Community Fundraising Campaign! You responded generously, before and during our one-week extension (to allow readers returning from summer vacation to participate), and pushed us over the top of our goal. More than $3000 was donated to help us pay the costs of producing and distributing our weekly events and news updates, interviews, podcasts, reviews, artist profiles, and other stories. All the letters of "Community supported" in our new website banner (above) are now lit in recognition of donors' essential role in OttawaJazzScene.ca .
We are buoyed by and very grateful for your support, and humbled by your confidence.
Brett Delmage, publisher and Alayne McGregor, editor - OttawaJazzScene.ca
Marc Copland, Adrian Vedady, John Fraboni
Montreal Jazz Festival, L'Astral
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 6 p.m.
The announcer intoned: “Please give a warm festival welcome to – The Adrian Vedady Trio!”
And I was bemused, because clearly NYC pianist Marc Copland, with decades more experience and a large discography, was the international star of the show. And yet as one listened it became more clear that Vedady was, if not the star, the linchpin of the group.
Copland has played with Montrealers Adrian Vedady on bass and John Fraboni on drums “for a couple years now” and that experience showed in the easy flow among the three musicians. It was a warm, friendly show: lots of smiles among the artists while playing, and they stayed to talk to audience members afterwards.
They started off with a lesser-known song by Joni Mitchell, “I Don't Know Where I Stand”, which Copland had included on his recently-released album, Some More Love Songs. It's an uneasy piece, with a strong undertone of sadness and loss beneath the initial prettiness, and this rendition recognized both. Each of Copland and Vedady's solos showed off the haunting quality of the melody; Copland even repeated snippets of the song underneath the slow second bass solo to emphasize this.
The Mitchell piece was also an appropriate introduction to the concert, because the next 80 minutes featured, with a few exceptions, songs of love lost (mostly from Some More Love Songs). In an all-instrumental concert, one doesn't usually mention the (unsung) lyrics, but in this case they particularly informed the interpretations, especially in the first set.
“I Remember You” was given an up-tempo interpretation, starting with fast, light drumming and a strong walking bass line, and then moving to syncopated piano: spare and simple but fast. “Greensleeves”, on the other hand, started with a slow, heartfelt bass/piano duet, with atmospheric cymbals in the background, and moved to a fuller sound, but nearer an elegy than a celebration of current love.
Rémi Bolduc 50th Anniversaire, avec invités
Montreal Jazz Festival, L'Astral
Thursday, July 5, 2012 – 6 p.m.
The stage was black. Then a single light just barely outlined the figure of a man. He lifted an alto saxophone to his lips and started playing – a short, up-tempo improvised melody.
Another saxophonist joined him, then a third, then a fourth, each playing a brief piece, And then the lights came up and there they were: Rémi Bolduc, Chet Doxas, Alexandre Côté, and Jean-Pierre Zanella.
Four prominent Montreal saxophonists (two alto, two tenor), all there to celebrate Bolduc's 50th birthday – along with further well-known area musicians: three pianists (André White, François Bourassa, and Rafael Zalvidar), bassist Fraser Hollins, and drummer Dave Laing. Definitely “ses amis”, although by no means anywhere near all the Quebec musicians Bolduc has regularly played with or featured on his albums.
The Montreal Jazz Festival had given Bolduc carte blanche for a concert to commemorate this milestone (his actual birthday was June 17) and he chose to celebrate it with the music he loved and musicians he loved to play with – and the saxophone in particular. While he was on stage throughout the 90-minute concert, he gave lots of room for the other musicians as well.
First you heard the drums, then the horns. As Mike Essoudry's Mash Potato Mashers burst out upon the crowd on rue Sainte-Catherine in Montréal on the afternoon of July 1, they attracted immediate attention. A quickly-growing circle of listeners, most of whom settled in to listen for the entire hour, regularly clapped and cheered despite the oppressive heat.
Outdoor concerts are a major part of the Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montréal. The 11-day festival's stages and audiences take over several major streets that surround the large, downtown performance facility, Place des Arts. The Mash Potato Mashers were one of several marching bands which animated festival afternoons in 2012 (sometimes even playing against each other).
July 1 was the last day of the Mashers' four-day stopover in Montreal, where the band had played seven outdoor afternoon concerts.
But it was only the middle of a literally cross-Canada tour (from B.C. to Newfoundland), a major step forward in the Mashers' two-year career.
Essoudry debuted the Mashers in early 2010, a nine-piece marching band composed of jazz musicians like himself from the Ottawa area. But their material is much more diverse: a mash-up of jazz and “Balkan and klezmer and New Orleans and some Brazilian stuff as well. Lots and lots of different things. Gospel, funk, and everything. R&B. There's all kinds of different influences in it.”
The band plays originals by Essoudry plus arrangements of pieces from many sources: for example, Wade Hemsworth's Canadian classic, “The Black Fly Song”.
But what you really notice about the Mashers is that they're in constant motion. There's always at least a couple of the musicians marching about as they take solos and play up to the audience. And in the background, others will be flashing “Hooray!” signs or dancing or jumping about.
- The Souljazz Orchestra sets the beat at the Montreal Jazz Festival
- More jazz - in Montreal
- Marc Copland and Roddy Ellias: finding connections
- David Mott's Journey to the Land of Oz
- NAC to showcase three jazz artists next fall
- Last song for JazzWorks jam coordinator Peter Liu
- Two voices are more than one at Boy's Night Out
- Poetry inspires music at IMOO on Sunday
- CKCU host Ron Sweetman previews the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival line-up
- 2011-12 Geggie Series: Ballads and blues and quiet (review)
- Diane White: a career with unexpected twists
- Craig Pedersen explores Grey Areas with his new CD
- Hear about the new Jazz Festival CD
- Kelly Craig Sextet plays Adam Daudrich at the NAC 4th Stage (review)
- Ottawa Hard Bop Association co-leaders speak about their music
- Michael Snow: making music in the now
- It's Déjá Vu with Steve Berndt and Brian Browne
- Making the most of great songs (review)
- The benefits of experience (review)
- Brandi Disterheft Quartet brings an energetic vibe to the Fourth Stage (review)
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