The Indigo Trio (Nicole Mitchell, Hamid Drake, Harrison Bankhead)
St. George's Church (Mitchell Hall)
Guelph Jazz Festival
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 9:50 p.m.
Nicole Mitchell is a jazz flute player who comes from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) tradition in Chicago; one of her most important mentors was saxophonist Fred Anderson. In other words, do not expect “pretty” from her: expect soaring notes, punctuated rhythms, and intense dynamics. For this concert she brought her Indigo Trio, with bassist Harrison Bankhead and percussionist Hamid Drake, both from Chicago.
They first played together as a trio at the 2005 Suoni per il Popolo Festival in Montreal, although they had known and played with each other for years. It was clearly a glorious grouping, and, based on this concert, one which I hope continues for many years.
In their 75-minute concert, the three circled around each other, Mitchell's flute shining over the deep rumble of Bankhead's bass and Drake's propulsive, booming drumming. The sound flowed through them, constantly shifting patterns like water flowing over rapids.
Ottawa pianist Steve Boudreau spent most of the last few years on the road. He settled back here in late June – and all the jazz music he's been working on for the past few years is now starting to appear.
This Sunday, Boudreau will officially release his first solo piano album, in an afternoon concert at Carleton University. Entitled Open Arms, it was actually recorded in 2011. (Next month, he will release a duo CD with Garry Elliott.)
But in the last 2½ years, he's been busy: 1½ years touring with a travelling production of Fiddler on the Roof, followed by another year with a new musical, Catch Me If You Can. Even with breaks back in Ottawa every six to eight weeks, there's been little time to go through tracks and whittle them down to a final CD lineup.
The solo album reflects Boudreau's many influences from jazz, classical, and other sources – but even more, his strong love of melody. “For me everything comes down to melody,” he says.
Seven of the nine tracks are originals, one is a piece by Thelonious Monk, and one is more surprising: “Surf's Up” by the Beach Boys. Unless, of course, you know Boudreau, and realize that he also plays in the local band Friends on Friends with Matt Ouimet and Phil Bova, which specializes in covering Beach Boys' music in their own inimitable style.
The idea for the album came through all the solo practicing that he normally would do as a pianist, he said. “And I've had been working on techniques specifically through the Golandsky Institute in Princeton. I went to a summer workshop there, I think it was the summer of 2011. And when I came back I'd just been playing so much and I was so inspired that I wanted to work up a list of songs and do a solo record.”
One of things he likes about playing solo is the amount of freedom in it, he said, and “I think most of the pieces come from that. I had material that I wanted to explore and I didn't have any songs that I could use it in, so I wrote a song.”
Pianist Adam Daudrich will celebrate the tradition of the jazz piano trio at his concert at GigSpace Saturday evening.
In fact, it's a tradition that's been handed down to him – from his teacher, NYC pianist Mike Longo, and even further back from Longo's own teachers, who included Oscar Peterson.
Daudrich, who grew up in Ottawa but now lives in Montreal, has teamed up with bassist Kyle Morin and drummer Marc Beland, both from Montreal. The trio has been together since this spring, mostly playing Daudrich's own compositions plus a few standards.
“It's a mix of modern jazz trio with a lot of pop influences and the American jazz tradition of swing, blues, and particularly bebop. So we mix the American tradition with the modern pop music quite well and it creates a nice balance for the audience.”
Daudrich met Morin back in 2004 in Toronto, and they had “this one fantastic gig” with another musician from Ottawa, and “we were really surprised at how well the sound came together. We were mystified: it was like jazz magic. And I never really forgot about that, but in the interim period circumstances were such that we all went in different directions. Kyle went west; I went to Europe and worked on cruise ships. And it took us a very long time to get back on the same page because we had developed separately for that period of time.”
The two reunited in Montreal in 2009, and played together occasionally since then. Then Daudrich met Beland through a jam session in Montreal, and they found they both enjoyed playing and listening to each other.
“I saw the chemistry that I had with the drummer and the chemistry I had prior with the bassist”, and Daudrich decided to try a few trio gigs in May, one of which was the Governor-General's Awards in Ottawa. “And it worked out.”
When Daudrich arranges music for the trio, he said, he works to make it sound “very complete and full-sounding.”
William Parker and Ken Aldcroft
Pressed Café, Ottawa
IMOO special presentation
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 (two shows)
Not only texture, of course: also unusual sounds, dynamic range, and a variety of contrasting rhythms.
But the most salient feature of William Parker's and Ken Aldcroft's two shows at Pressed was how they used the full capabilities of their instruments to produce full-bodied, evolving, and sometimes unexpected extemporized soundscapes.
Parker is a composer, bandleader, and teacher, whose double bass has graced stages around the world for decades, playing with a huge variety of high-profile musicians and especially those playing avant-garde jazz. For the last six years, one of his many collaborations has been with Aldcroft, a guitarist who's a mainstay of the free-jazz improvisation scene in Toronto. They've played a number of concerts there, and released a duo record called One Sunday on Trio Records in 2011.
For their Ottawa appearance, they played two shows, both just under an hour, mostly filling Pressed Café each time (some listeners stayed for both). The concert was organized by the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO), and IMOO organizer Linsey Wellman said afterwards that the turnout exceeded expectations.
Parker played the double bass, and, in the second set, the doson ngoni (a very tall lute from Mali) and the shakuhachi (a thick Japanese bamboo flute). Aldcroft was on electric guitar, with a selection of pedals. There was no set list, no compositions announced; they performed pure free improv.
L'OFF Jazz, the other Montreal jazz festival with a greater emphasis on local musicians, has just announced the lineup for its festival in early October.
Highlights of the October 3 to 12 event include:
- the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra
- Alec Walkington’s Contraband
- Marianne Trudel + William Parker + Hamid Drake (reprising their energetic collaboration at Guelph)
- Chet Doxas's Dive with Matt Stevens, Eric Doob and Zack Lober
- the Jeff Johnston Trio
- L’Ensemble Rémi-Jean LeBlanc,
- Quartetski does Stravinsky – Le sacre du Printemps
- the Litania Projekt
- Trio Derome Guilbeault Tanguay launching their new album WOW!
- World Colors – John Roney & JazzLab Orchestra + guest violinist Mark Feldman
and much more. And a couple Ottawa expats show up too: the Craig Pedersen Quartet and Renée Yoxon & Mark Ferguson.
More info: www.lofffestivaldejazz.com/
The Quebec City Jazz Festival also occurs next month, from October 15 to 27, and has recently announced its schedule.
International musicians are prominent, including the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet, The Bad Plus and Kurt Rosenwinkel Solo, Tigran Hamasyan, and the Saxophone Summit with Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman & Ravi Coltrane.
World Percussion Summit
Jesse Stewart, Hamid Drake, Dong-Won Kim, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee
Cooperators Hall, River Run Centre
Guelph Jazz Festival
Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 8 p.m.
The Guelph Jazz Festival combined the familiar and the new, North America and the world for the opening concert of this year's festival.
It was the festival's 20th anniversary, and to celebrate that, it started a day early with a special free concert. For the familiar, the festival invited drummers Hamid Drake from Chicago and Jesse Stewart from Ottawa, both of whom have played there frequently. Their drumsets were right beside each other at centre stage.
For the new – and to fit this year's theme, “celebrating a world of jazz” – they invited tabla player Pandit Anindo Chatterjee (whom the festival described as “the living legend of the tabla”), and Korean percussionist Dong-Won Kim, known for his work in Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. Their instruments flanked the drumsets on either side.
The concert had an Ottawa connection: although Drake and Stewart had known each other for years, their stint at GigSpace in Ottawa last March was the first time they'd formally played together. There, they fell into an immediate rapport, producing two 75-minute sets of improvised music where they intuitively enhanced each other's explorations.
On September 8, Ottawa artist, composer, percussionist, instrument builder, writer and music educator Jesse Stewart will mark the passing of time – the 20-year life of the Guelph Jazz Festival - with Gnomon Variations, his specially commissioned piece for drumset and strings.
It's an exciting, creative opportunity for Stewart. He's had a long-standing interest in time, expressed in both the visual and musical arts, in addition to participating in the Guelph Jazz festival (GJF) since its first year.
"One of the things connecting my work in the visual and sonic arts is my ongoing interest in different representations and conceptions of time," Stewart told OttawaJazzScene.ca.
The Guelph Jazz Festival could not have found a more enthusiastic timekeeper. For the 2000 festival, Stewart was commissioned to create a multi-media jazz opera that “would serve as a sort of meditation on improvisation, impermanence, and the passage of time.” His first solo visual and musical exhibit, “Wheels of Time” followed at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in 2003. In 2011, he presented his first solo visual art exhibit at a major Ottawa art gallery: “Time Pieces”. It examined time in innovative ways, including both visually and musically.
“I was thinking of this idea of marking time, anniversaries and so on, and that's really where the genesis of the idea for the piece came from,” Stewart said. “The piece for me is about how we measure time, how we keep time, how we mark time, musically and otherwise.”
A gelato café is not the first place you'd check to hear hot jazz – but Stella Luna on Bank Street in Ottawa South has been offering a steadily increasing variety of jazz (and other music) on Sunday evenings. The Ottawa Folklore Centre Jazz Band broke the ice there in 2011, and over the last year more musicians have been showing up to entertain those waiting in line for gelato or sitting enjoying it.
Bassist Marc Decho tried out a new combination at the café on August 25, with guitarist Lucas Haneman and drummer Michel Delage. Despite never having played as a trio before, they easily slipped into a comfortable groove, performing and deconstructing Latin and jazz standards and adding their own improvisations on top. Decho and Haneman clearly had a great time playing off each other, especially when Haneman pulled out his mandolin and they traded fast riffs.– Alayne McGregor
The Brubeck Brothers Quartet Tribute to Dave Brubeck
Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, Place des Arts
Montreal Jazz Festival
Sunday, July 7, 2013 – 9:30 p.m.
The late Dave Brubeck was always special to the Montreal Jazz Festival, and founder Alain Simard recognized that at the closing concert of the 2013 festival.
Before the concert started, Simard walked on-stage to pay tribute to the pianist and composer: “un grand ami du festival”, who even sent him Christmas cards. Brubeck performed 13 times at the festival, starting in 1981, with everything from his trio to a big band to symphony orchestras. His last appearance was in 2011.
This tribute featured two of Brubeck's four musician sons: Chris on electric bass and trombone, and Dan on drums, plus their regular collaborators Mike DeMicco on guitar, and Chuck Lamb on keyboards. This was particularly fitting because Dave Brubeck often included one or more of his sons in his performances starting in the 1960s. In fact, at Brubeck's very first Montreal jazz festival concert in 1981, Chris played trombone in his quartet.
But the tribute also included three stellar Montreal jazz musicians: Chet Doxas on saxophone, Adrian Vedady on double bass, and notably Lorraine Desmarais on piano, who played in the big band Diva in their two festival concerts with Brubeck in 1999. Adding those three to the Montreal concert was an inspired choice: their musicianship, enthusiasm, and new approaches enlivened and enhanced the concert.
Updated August 27, 2013
Orchestre national de jazz Montréal
Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, Place des Arts
Montreal Jazz Festival
Saturday, July 6, 2013 – 9:30 p.m.
Montreal has a wealth of big bands, and an abundance of musicians accustomed to performing in big bands. Vic Vogel, Christine Jensen, Joe Sullivan, and Lorraine Desmarais: all those prominent musicians lead big bands. Plus there's the Montreal All-City Big Band, and many university and high school jazz bands. More than in most cities, there's a culture of enjoying large-scale jazz music.
And now there's another: the Orchestre national de jazz Montréal, which had its debut performance at the 2013 Montreal Jazz Festival, and which is scheduled to play monthly concerts at L'Astral starting in September.
The 16-piece orchestra is led by Christine Jensen, and includes a fine selection of Montreal jazz musicians, all but three of whom I recognized. It aims to provide “jazz creators with a permanent place where they can fully express their talent and creativity”, as well as to present the wide range of orchestral jazz music being written around the world.
Its inaugural concert started with three pieces by Quebec jazz composers – Jensen, Jean-Nicolas Trottier, and Marianne Trudel – each about 15 minutes long. Each was rearranged to take advantage of the greater number of voices in this band; there was much interplay in the arrangements, particularly in Trottier's piece. Frank Lozano's hard-edged saxophone started it off, but then a wide variety of instruments (notably André Leroux's flute) added considerable texture and layering to the thoughtful piece.
St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts and Humanities
Saturday, August 3, 2013 – 9:30 p.m.
Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Jayme Stone about this concert and his new CD: Jayme Stone expands the horizons of the banjo, along with his favourite musicians
The only problem with Jayme Stone's performance at Chamberfest was that it was too short.
In the 60 minutes allocated to him, Stone and his musicians played music from three of his four albums, plus a tip-of-the-hat to Chamberfest with a Bach suite. But there simply wasn't time to play the concerto which is the centerpiece of his just-released album, The Other Side of the Air. The concerto would have admirably suited the location and audience, and I was looking forward to hearing it live.
Regardless, the show was a good introduction to Stone, his original approach to the banjo, his genre-bending music, and the fine jazz musicians he plays with. It was well-paced and diverse, with Stone providing explanations and background for the music, and creating a strong connection with the audience.
The banjo has been pigeonholed as a bluegrass, Americana, or Dixieland instrument: Béla Fleck tore big holes in those barriers several decades ago, and Stone has continued that progress. Stone has reenvisioned the banjo as a simply a resonant, stringed instrument, and imagined new contexts for it: West African rhythms, music inspired by world folk dances, baroque classical music, and definitely jazz.
- The Lemon Bucket Orkestra: a dancing good time (review)
- Phil Dwyer and Don Thompson celebrate the long-lasting beauty of standards (review)
- Second annual IMOOfest in November
- Paul Tynan sees different big band styles on each side of the border
- An ensemble who enjoyed celebrating Horace Silver's music (review)
- The Element Choir brings an element of surprise and beauty (review)
- Henrique Cazes and Sambacana fill St. Brigid's with gentle Brazilian rhythms (review)
- Jayme Stone expands the horizons of the banjo, along with his favourite musicians
- Scott Thomson explains how he fills large spaces with resonant sound
- The Jesse Stewart Trio sparks everyone's imagination (review)
- Montréal Guitare Trio starts Chamberfringe on a strong note (review)
- Renée Yoxon and her Gentlemen Friends swing the park (review)
- Three young musicians bring new music and their new experiences back to Ottawa
- Joel Miller and Honeycomb at the Montreal Jazz Festival (review)
- Caridad Cruz and Miguel de Armas ignite their audience
- Trifolia: adventurous jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival (review)
- Kellylee Evans charms Montreal audience with hip-hop and jazz (review)
- Prairie jazz wins the Grand Prix de Jazz (review)
- Guelph Jazz Festival celebrates 20th Anniversary with World Artist Summit Sep 3-8
- Ten Years of the Triplets of Belleville, in Ottawa et Montreal (review)
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