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No RendezVous Rideau Jazz series at 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival; future uncertain

There will be no RendezVous Rideau Jazz series at the 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival. 2016 may have been the final year of the long-running local stage at the Rideau Centre since it started in 1990 – 27 years ago.

There will be no Rideau Centre stage at the Ottawa Jazz Festival this year, and maybe forever ©Brett Delmage, 2014“Unfortunately, we will not be staging the RendezVous Rideau Jazz series this year. We have had some changes to our marketing strategy following the completion of our redevelopment and are taking time this year to assess several long-standing partnerships,” Rideau Centre General Manager Cindy VanBuskirk told OttawaJazzScene.ca yesterday by email.

The festival was notified of the cancellation by the Rideau Centre on March 10, less than two weeks before the Festival’s official launch on March 22. The Rideau Centre was one of two local stages offering free shows showcasing local musicians during the day throughout the festival. A third local stage was cancelled in 2011 and not replaced.

Ottawa Jazz Festival Executive Director Catherine O’Grady told OttawaJazzScene.ca today that there were no plans yet for a replacement local performance series.

“I can’t talk about it yet, but we’re working on things. We haven’t got that far yet. We just got the news,” O’Grady said when asked about plans to replace the local performances.

Read more: No RendezVous Rideau Jazz series at 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival; future uncertain

 

Juno Awards Week: jazz nominees from across Canada present new and different music in Canada's capital

Dave Young is nominated for his quintet album of hard bop jazz favourites and originals, One Way Up ©Brett Delmage, 2016Updated March 29, 2017
At the end of March, musicians of every genre will gather in Canada's capital for the 2017 Juno Awards ceremonies. And they won't just be accepting awards – they'll be showing off the diversity and new frontiers in Canadian music, including jazz.

The main attraction will be the JUNOfest concerts on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, at 15 locations across Ottawa, featuring nominated and local artists in many genres. Individual tickets and all-location wristbands are available for the shows, giving fans a chance to hear musicians from across the country. However, many of the locations are not large, and may fill up quickly.

Bassists Dave Young and Brandi Disterheft, pianists Amanda Tosoff and David Braid, vocalists Heather Bambrick and Felicity Williams, saxophonists Quinsin Nachoff, Shirantha Beddage, and Perry White, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, guitarists Reg Schwager and Alex Goodman, and drummer Terry Clarke will be among the jazz musicians performing at JUNOfest. [See the list of 2017 Juno Award nominees in the jazz and related categories]

The Juno Awards are also sponsoring exhibits of art, photography, and memorabilia associated with Juno-winning musicians, and several panel discussions about the music industry.

For jazz fans, the focus will be on Live! On Elgin downtown where four jazz groups – almost all Juno nominees – will perform each evening between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Jazz musicians nominated in the Children's and Instrumental categories will also perform in other JUNOfest venues.

On Friday, March 31, the jazz showcase at Live! On Elgin will open at 9 p.m. with Toronto vocalist Heather Bambrick accompanied by pianist David Braid. Bambrick is nominated in the Jazz Vocal category for You’ll Never Know, a collection of classic standards, originals, and even a Bruce Cockburn song, backed by a Toronto jazz septet.

Read more: Juno Awards Week: jazz nominees from across Canada present new and different music in Canada's capital

 

2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup reduces jazz, Canadians (analysis)

Updated March 23, 2017
The Ottawa Jazz Festival announced its 2017 lineup today with some spectacular international jazz choices. But the festival is still emphasizing the singer-songwriters and baby boom hitmakers, and is offering far fewer opportunities for Canadian jazz musicians.


Check out our easy-to-read, plain-text guide to the 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival


The Sonoluminescence Trio is one of the relatively rare Canadian jazz groups at the 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival ©Brett Delmage, 2016The official announcement on CBC Ottawa's afternoon radio show emphasized the non-jazz: singer-songwriters Feist and Serena Ryder, soul/R&B singer Joss Stone, the Downchild Blues Band, R&B vocalist Mavis Staples, and country star Kenny Rogers. When asked if Rogers would be playing jazz, Festival programming manager Petr Cancura replied that they would be “taking Kenny the way he is”.

In fact, only three of the 10 headliners in the park are bona fide jazz acts. Since 2011, the festival has consistently programmed a large percentage of musicians with no relation to jazz, but this is the lowest number ever.

The Confederation Park jazz headliners are Charlie Haden's Liberation Jazz Orchestra, led by Carla Bley; Maceo Parker and the Ray Charles Orchestra; and Caravan Swing. Other notable jazz names at the festival include The Robert Glasper Experiment; Kenny Barron; Hudson, with Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski, and John Scofield; Donny McCaslin; Hiromi; the Sammy Miller Congregation; and the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet.

Cancura has also brought back popular jazz choices from recent years: Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra; guitarist Bill Frisell with bassist Thomas Morgan; and The Bad Plus.

Read more: 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup reduces jazz, Canadians (analysis)

 

A tuba (and jazz) fantasia with the Keith Hartshorn-Walton Quartet (review)

The Keith Hartshorn-Walton Quartet
Live @ Record Runner
Record Runner Rehearsal Studios
Friday, February 24, 2017 - 7:30 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

I admit it: I'm prejudiced in favour of the tuba. I've always found that instrument's deep sound to be rich and beautiful and wonderfully resonant in a room. I've enjoyed the very occasional times I've heard American tuba masters like Howard Johnson.

Keith Hartshorn-Walton (tuba) listens to Michel Delage (drums) in their Live @ Record Runner show ©Brett Delmage, 2017

But opportunities to hear the tuba in a jazz context in Ottawa have been rare – until Keith Hartshorn-Walton moved here in 2015. As he's gradually increased his performances with a variety of local jazz groups, we've had more chances to hear the tuba in unexpected places. This concert, though, was his first show as leader.

By the end of the show, you could see why Hartshorn-Walton is such an advocate for the tuba and its abilities, as he deployed it in roles ranging from lead horn to bass background, and did full justice to a wide variety of classic jazz pieces.

For this show, he teamed up with three well-known Ottawa jazz musicians: John Geggie on double bass, Michel Delage on drums, and Peter Hum on keyboards. Hum also contributed two of his own recent original pieces to the set list.

For the remainder, Hartshorn-Walton picked jazz standards and classics – a few well-known, but most less commonly heard. Some Latin, some swing, some show tunes, some blues, but primarily enjoyable music that connected with the audience, and gave all the musicians room to play and innovate.

Read more: A tuba (and jazz) fantasia with the Keith Hartshorn-Walton Quartet (review)

 

Want to volunteer at the Ottawa Jazz Festival or another summer music festival? Applications are now open

©Brett Delmage, 2010You wouldn’t want to go outside in just a t-shirt and shorts or recline in a lawn chair yet, but local festivals are already looking for volunteers for this summer. Whether you want to sell tickets, usher at concerts, work on stages, or pick up garbage (surprisingly, it can be fun), there’s a volunteer task that you could enjoy doing.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival opened its applications for new volunteers as of March 15. Applications are often only open for a few weeks, so you might want to check out ottawajazzfestival.com/volunteer/ soon.

Opportunities range from selling tickets to driving musicians to stage crew to selling beer to access control at the different venues. By volunteering, you also become a voting member of the festival, and can move motions and vote on its board of directors at its yearly AGM.

You can also volunteer now for the Ottawa Chamberfest in late July/early August. That festival needs people for ushering, stage crew, box office, driving, and distributing publicity material. More information and the application form is at www.chamberfest.com/support/volunteer/ .

Bluesfest, in early July, will be asking for volunteers starting May 24. They're accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can only pick one volunteer task. See https://volunteers.ottawabluesfest.ca/volunteer/ for more information and a list of the possible tasks, ranging from fundraising to selling beer to parking bikes.

Read more: Want to volunteer at the Ottawa Jazz Festival or another summer music festival? Applications are now open

 

John Stetch to reimagine classical compositions at 2017 Ottawa Chamberfest

Jazz pianist John Stetch will continue his rethinking of classical concertos and sonatas in a concert at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival (Chamberfest) this summer.

John Stetch kept the audience at the Steinway Piano Gallery engrossed while playing an unsual combination of repertoire -- and not a standard in sight ©Brett Delmage, 2016The festival today unveiled 15 of the shows which it will present from July 22 to August 4 – primarily from the core classical repertoire, but also including crossover concerts with jazz, the Beatles, contemporary pop, and film music, as well as interpretations of Canada's Arctic and unexpected takes on musicals and audiovisual performance. The remainder of the line-up will be revealed in April.

OttawaJazzScene.ca learned after the announcement that Toronto jazz pianist David Braid will also appear at the festival.

On July 26, Stetch will perform at La Nouvelle Scène in a show entitled “Classical Meets Jazz”. The festival says he will blend “dashes of classical” along with his “percussive and improvisational brand of piano playing”.

Stetch, who began his jazz career in Alberta but has lived and worked in or near NYC for decades, is a prolific original composer. His most recent CD is Improvisations [2015], an album of “unedited and un-premeditated solo improvisations”.

Read more: John Stetch to reimagine classical compositions at 2017 Ottawa Chamberfest

 

Ottawa jazz focuses on Canada in March, leading up to the Junos

Updated with new events added on March 15, 2017
At the end of March, many Canadians will look to Ottawa for the Juno Awards and all its associated concerts here. But that's only the climax of a month of fine Canadian jazz in Ottawa-Gatineau.

The Stretch Orchestra return to Ottawa with genre-bending music March 3&4 ©Brett Delmage, 2015With music ranging from big bands and swing, to tributes to vocalists like Nat King Cole and Joni Mitchell, to improvisation that pushes the boundaries, it's a diverse month – with a bit of extra push due to Juno concert microgrants. And to top it off, there's a CD release from David Renaud, a companion to his first duo record with Brian Browne.


We would like to thank GigSpace Performance Studio, Alrick Huebener, Marie Fleming, and Record Runner Rehearsal Studios whose donations made this unique March jazz highlights report possible.

OttawaJazzScene.ca’s reporting is made possible by reader donations. By becoming a donor you can help OttawaJazzScene.ca shine a spotlight on the scene every month of the year.


March begins with a blast – of horns, as Ed Lister premieres his new Prime Rib big band at Irene's on March 1. Lister has gathered together ten other well-known local jazz musicians to play mainly his own original material with a few covers thrown in. While Lister is better known for the funkier music of ERU-ERA or the Chocolate Hot Pockets, he's also a big fan of the swing classics (read our review of his Ellington tribute concert). He says that the style of this new band is “very much rooted in big band swing in the style of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk”.

Read more: Ottawa jazz focuses on Canada in March, leading up to the Junos

 

Simon Denizart Trio wins over NAC audience with energetic, multi-faceted jazz

The Simon Denizart Trio
NAC Presents
National Arts Centre, Back Stage
Saturday, March 4, 2017 – 7:30 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

At their NAC première, the Simon Denizart Trio easily won over their audience with original music produced with liveliness and zest. From their first song onwards, the Montreal jazz trio's pieces evoked strong applause, and culminated in a standing ovation.

Simon Denizart on piano, Jeanne Corpataux on double bass, and Simon Bellemare on drums kept the energy level high and the musical interplay intense at their NAC premiere March 4. ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Their music was a celebration – and an expansion – of the classic jazz piano trio form, with each piece taking an initial musical idea and stretching it, while retaining accessible melodies and rhythms. The trio released their second album, Beautiful People, last November, and, at this concert, performed all the tracks from that album, plus two songs from their first CD, Between Two Worlds.

The audience's warm reception wasn't because of familiarity – these pieces hadn't previously been performed in Ottawa. And while the trio is well-known in Quebec and has toured twice across Europe, Ottawa is the only city in Canada outside Quebec they've ever played in.

Denizart is the composer in the group, but all three musicians – Denizart on piano, Jeanne Corpataux on double bass, and Simon Bellemare on drums – contributed substantially to the sound. It was a highly interactive 90-minute show, with the music flowing easily among the musicians.

Read more: Simon Denizart Trio wins over NAC audience with energetic, multi-faceted jazz

 

French pianist Simon Denizart is inspired by new culture & new musicians in Quebec

Some Canadians might dream of living in Europe, but French pianist Simon Denizart went in the opposite direction. For Denizart, Quebec has been the exotic new land where his jazz career has flourished.

The Simon Denizart Trio (l-r: Simon Bellemare, Simon Denizart, Jeanne Corpataux) performs its first formal Canadian concert outside Quebec at the NAC on March 4 ©2016 Brett DelmageRaised in Créteil, a suburb of Paris, Denizart moved to Montreal in 2011. In 2014, his trio won the people's favourite award at the Festi Jazz International de Rimouski. They've released two albums, toured extensively throughout Quebec and appeared at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and made two tours of Europe, going as far afield as Poland and the Czech Republic.

Radio-Canada named Denizart their Révélation Jazz selection for 2016/2017. It's a considerable honour which has boosted the careers of previous picks.

On Saturday, he'll perform his first formal concert in Canada outside Quebec, when NAC Presents brings his trio to the National Arts Centre Back Stage.

Read more: French pianist Simon Denizart is inspired by new culture & new musicians in Quebec

 

GigSpace Jazz MicroFest puts the local into International Jazz Day

Updated March 5, 2017
GigSpace will celebrate International Jazz Day in April with a new three-day festival promoting Ottawa's jazz musicians.

GigSpace 2017 MicrFest logoThe GigSpace Jazz MicroFest will debut on April 28 to 30, with performances by 38 local musicians in 15 shows. The music will range from well-known and not-so-standard jazz standards, to groove based compositions, to folk and roots-inspired cabaret music, to lyrical modern jazz originals. The musicians will be familiar to readers of OttawaJazzScene.ca: many are popular names with long jazz careers here.

“It's a community-building effort,” said Marilee Townsend-Alcorn, the artistic director of the 45-seat concert venue. “It's raising the profile of the musicians in Ottawa. It's showing that we do have stellar musicians in our midst, playing at a very high level.”

The festival is a project that the GigSpace organizers have been wanting to undertake ever since they opened. “Probably every time there's a jazz festival, someone says, 'Wouldn't it be nice to just have Ottawa-only musicians? A festival for just the Ottawa people.' And we've all said that for five years,” she said.

GigSpace director and guitarist Tim Bedner in particular has been driving the project. With Canada's 150th birthday this year, “He really put the push on. 'Let's make it happen!'”

Read more: GigSpace Jazz MicroFest puts the local into International Jazz Day

 

The Stretch Orchestra (video)

©2016 Brett DelmageThe Stretch Orchestra is back in Ottawa on Friday, for two shows at GigSpace Performance Studio that may end up as a live recording.

The group, with Kevin Breit on guitars and mandolin, Jesse Stewart on percussion, and Matt Brubeck on cello, creates music that is energetic, complex, and fun, coming out of their joint background as jazz improvisers but drawing from almost every genre imaginable to create their very individual sound.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's Inside the Scene interviewed all three at their last show in Ottawa at Ontario Scene in 2015. It was very difficult to keep a straight face. And you can see what makes their music uniquely theirs in excerpts from their NAC Fourth Stage performance.

– Brett Delmage

Related: The Stretch Orchestra makes jazz bend [interview with Matt Brubeck]

Watch the Inside the Scene video story

 

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