Chucho Valdés will appear at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival on Tuesday, June 25, according to his artist management. The Cuban piano master last appeared at the festival and in Ottawa in 2009.
Valdés will also play at the Montreal Jazz Festival (Théâtre Maisonneuve) on June 28 and in Quebec City on June 27, according to his website.
In his more than 40-year career, Valdés has popularized Cuban jazz around the world, founded Irakere, one of the great Cuban jazz ensembles, and played and recorded with countless jazz masters, including Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. His powerful piano playing dominates any stage.
The festival had previously announced that Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, and The Bad Plus will appear at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival.
Ottawa audiences have only been able to hear local jazz pianist Nick Maclean during the holidays for the last four years, as he's been completing his studies in the renowned jazz program at Humber College in Toronto.
He's back for Study Week this week, and this time he's bringing five other Humber students, in a new jazz fusion band they've formed called Snaggle. They'll be performing their original compositions at the Avant-Garde Bar on Thursday, and then in Montreal and Toronto on the weekend.
This won't be the quiet, somewhat introspective music we've heard from Maclean before, whether in Notes in Triplicate or in duets with local vocalists or bassists.
“It's going to be very far departed from any of the stuff that you would have seen me in Ottawa before,” he says.
And it will be louder. It will be “a solid rhythm-section groove, with horns floating on top of it with different melodies and such. We really like to groove this music and have a lot of fun with it. There's an interaction between the players, and solo sections and we even have a couple sections where everyone is collectively building up to a great big chaotic climax.”
Maclean said Snaggle is a fusion group, but not just 70s jazz-rock fusion. “Pretty much nothing's off the table. We've got a tune heavily drawing off some klezmer influences. We've got one that's drawing on classical, heavy metal, and polka all in the same tune. It's a fun one. But most of the stuff is jazz-rock-funk-ish.”
Its main inspiration: a Brooklyn-based jazz group called Snarky Puppy, which “plays, in a very weird and twisted way, dance music, but it's very artistic and really fun.” Snaggle has a similar instrumental lineup to the core members of Snarky Puppy, and like Snaggle, the original members of Snarky Puppy all met at university. (Snarky Puppy has played Ottawa twice: in 2011 at Barrymore's, and at the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival.)
Other Snaggle influences – at least in terms of Maclean's compositions – include the Brecker Brothers, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the Brian Blade Fellowship.
The band was founded last September by Maclean and bassist Doug Moore, who have also written almost all its material. All the members are currently in their final year of study at Humber.
Expanded on February 14, 2013
Ottawa jazz vocalist Renée Yoxon is one of three finalists for the Council for the Arts in Ottawa's (CAO) RBC Emerging Artist award. The finalists (chosen by a selection panel from a pool of nominations) were announced February 12 at the council's Sweetheart Cocktail for the Arts.
An expanded selection panel will select the winner in late March/early April, and the name will be announced in mid-April at the CAO's annual awards luncheon.
The previous three winners of the award have been a theatre director and two visual artists. Yoxon is the first jazz musician to be a finalist.
Friday, February 8, 2013
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Elizabeth Shepherd produced a night of bittersweet music for a full house, at her NAC debut on February 8.
The show opened dramatically with “Love for Sale” by Cole Porter, the first song from her latest CD, Rewind. As on the CD, the Montreal-based vocalist emphasized the irony and the contrast between the light, romantic melody and the bleak lyrics. Singing in a slightly distanced manner, she first gestured with her hands and then used the piano to emphasize the syncopation in the melody.
The show's setlist ranged across Shepherd's career, with the jazz standards from Rewind fitting in well with originals from previous albums. If there was one defining characteristic, it was the contrast between her clear, smooth soprano and the strong underlying beat. One could enjoy the concert as a piano trio, as a collection of jazz songs, or as a combination of both.
Shepherd, playing piano and singing, was supported by two long-time musical compatriots, Ross MacIntyre on double bass and Colin Kingsmore on drums. Neither was a mere accompanist. For example, “Midnight Sun” (by jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton) began with MacIntyre's supple bass riff against strongly accented piano from Shepherd and hand-clapping from Kingsmore. Shepherd and McIntyre later continued in a duet, his bass echoing her melodies and fast rhythms on piano; then Shepherd and Kingsmore traded individual notes, his on cowbell and drums. Shepherd changed her vocal phrasing throughout the song as well, adding extra space as she repeated lyrics – and the whole was greeted by strong applause at the end.
John Scofield Trio
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
La Maison de la Culture, Gatineau
The opening night of the John Scofield Trio’s tour of Quebec began in the dimly lit, brilliant acoustics of the theatre of La Maison de la Culture de Gatineau, where its attentive audience barely made a whisper – when they weren’t cheering enthusiastically.
Scofield grooved with his mouth open, at times singing his parts and bending his knees dancing to the music. Drummer Bill Stewart demonstrated his prowess when holding down the groove, occasionally unleashing his ferocious mastery with the full force of his body. Bassist Scott Colley had his eyes focused on both Scofield and Stewart when he wasn't trancing with his solos, complementing both Stewart and Scofield as if he could read their minds.
It was a night of group interplay, hard swing, country ballads, blues, atmospheric soundscapes and, of course, groove. With this trio, Scofield demonstrated that he isn’t just a funk rock or jazz fusion guitar player, as he is popularly known. He reaffirmed to local audiences that he is more than capable of playing straight-ahead jazz without losing the trademark Scofield-isms that he’s known and relished for.
The Elizabeth Shepherd Trio plays the NAC Fourth Stage on Friday, February 8, 2013.
Elizabeth Shepherd came to jazz via Salvation Army brass bands, hip-hop, and French chanson. Her first four albums consisted almost completely of her own songs, and it's only with her latest that she has finally released an album of jazz standards.
It's not the standard career path for a jazz pianist and vocalist – especially since most of Shepherd's music is written within the standard pop song format, while still keeping the rhythms and complexity of jazz. On bandcamp, her music is tagged as “jazz”, but also as “chanson française”, “experimental pop”, and “soul-jazz”.
But it has allowed her to reach a broader audience – one that has regularly filled the Mercury Lounge on previous appearances in Ottawa, and which has had her touring as far away as Tokyo.
Nor has it harmed her jazz creds: she was picked by vibraphonist Peter Appleyard to be one of the “Sophisticated Ladies” whose vocals he collaborated with on his 2012 album, and she has recently toured with guitarist Michael Occhipinti for his Shine On project. She has also been nominated twice for a Juno for Best Vocal Jazz Album (2007 and 2009).
The Montreal-based musician will be appearing at the NAC Fourth Stage this Friday as part of the NAC Presents series. She will be with her long-time bassist and drummer – Ross MacIntyre and Colin Kingsmore – primarily playing music from her fifth album, Rewind.
Rewind, which was released in September 2012, and recorded about a year before that, is an album of uncommon jazz standards: two French songs, some less-well-known jazz songs by famous composers, and songs better known in their instrumental versions, like “Poinciana”. Shepherd's only writing contribution to the album was a set of lyrics to Bobby Hutcherson's instrumental, “When you are near”. The other eleven songs on the album are jazz classics – but more for Cannonball Adderley fans than for Diana Krall fans. The album opens with an unromantic version of Cole Porter's “Love for Sale”, and ends with a heartfelt duet with Denzal Sinclaire on “Prelude to a Kiss” by Duke Ellington.
John Scofield is one of the most successful jazz guitarists around today, renowned for his unique and extremely expressive soulful and funky sound. He has played with a plethora of top jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, The Brecker Brothers, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Tony Williams, David Liebman and many more.
Scofield has a busy touring schedule. performing 200 days out of the year around the world. He has played at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, most recently with his New Orleans gospel style group, The Piety Street Band in 2010, and with his quartet in 2003.
On Wednesday, February 6, the John Scofield Trio began its tour of ‘la belle province’, organized by the Montreal Jazz Festival, with the first show of the tour at the Maison de la Culture de Gatineau here in the greater Ottawa/Gatineau region. See the OttawaJazzScene.ca review of that concert.
Justin Duhaime of OttawaJazzScene.ca had the pleasure of interviewing the friendly and down-to-earth Scofield on January 24 to ask him about this upcoming tour and more. Here is what they talked about.
OttawaJazzScene.ca: Tell me about the people you will be playing with.
John Scofield: This time it’s two of my good buddies: Bill Stewart, drummer par excellence, who I’ve been playing with 20+ years on and off, but on a lot, and a great, great acoustic bass player named Scott Colley, who I’ve played with some. He was on my last record, A Moment’s Peace, that came out in 2011.
OJS: Your long-running trio usually has Steve Swallow in it. Could he not make the tour?
Scofield: Steve Swallow has a strange life. He lives in Tortola in the Caribbean between November and March, and won’t leave. He just stays down there and he just writes music. He and his wife Carla Bley don’t play gigs during that time of the year.
But I’ve been playing with Scott a lot, too. I’ve had a longer history with Steve, but Scott is no mere substitute for Steve Swallow. He’s his own man and a really remarkable musician.
Florquestra Brasil received an enthusiastic full house at Cabaret La Basoche in Aylmer on January 30. The event: the launch of their first album, Flortografia. The hour-long concert produced an immediate standing ovation at the end, and another after the encore.
The music was a mixture – Georges Brassens, Leonard Cohen, Brazilian jazz standards, and originals – sung in mostly French, but with some Portuguese and English too. It was all served with a cabaret sensibility and with strong Brazilian rhythms underneath, for a unified and highly infectious whole.
Léonard Constant (guitar, vocals), Regina Teixeira (percussion, vocals), Silvio Módolo (accordion, guitar, cavaquinho, keyboards, and more), and Angel Araos (drums, percussion) were joined by further musical friends. most of whom had also played on the album: Fernando Acosta (percussion), Jasmin Lalande (saxes), Paul Doyle (trumpet and flugelhorn), Ken Kanwisher (bass), and Gabriel Estrela Pinto (percussion). In particular it was their skillful use of Brazilian instruments: the berimbau, agogô, cavaquinho, tamborim, caxixi, surdo, pandeiro, viola caipira, zabumba, and more, which really added the extra flair to their music.
The Nick Fraser Quartet with Tony Malaby plays Ottawa on Friday, February 1 (NAC Fourth Stage); Toronto on Saturday, February 2 (the Tranzac); and Kingston on Sunday, February 3 (the Mansion).
You can't necessarily categorize drummer Nick Fraser. You can hear him play mainstream jazz with vocalist/pianist Fern Lindzon, singer/composer Sienna Dahlen, or quintet Peripheral Vision. There's world music with banjo player Jayme Stone. On the more avant-garde side, he accompanies trumpeter Lina Allemano, and is part of the collective avant-jazz quintet Drumheller, the improv trio Ugly Beauties, and the Steve Lacy tribute band, The Rent.
He's probably best known in Ottawa as the long-standing drummer in John Geggie's trio which anchors the Ottawa Jazz Festival's late night jam sessions – a testimony to his ability to play almost anything!
But for many years he's rarely been heard as the leader of his own group, playing his own compositions in the improv/free music vein.
That will change this week, as his quartet plays a three-city tour to release new CD called Towns and Villages. It's his first CD under his own name in almost a decade. The CD was recorded a year ago (February, 2012), and was inspired by a visit by NYC free jazz saxophonist Tony Malaby to Toronto.
“I've always thought of doing a project with Tony Malaby, who's one of my favourite musicians. And he was in Toronto doing something else, so I jumped at the chance to put something together.”
The two originally met at a jazz workshop in Idaho in 1996. “And I was about 20 and he was 35ish and had just moved to New York. And I was just really impressed with his musicianship and his sound and the breadth of what he can do with his instrument. He can play really freely but is really grounded in convention as well. That's something I aspire to.”
Also on the record are two musicians Fraser has played with practically since he moved to Toronto from Ottawa in 1996: bassist Rob Clutton and cellist Andrew Downing.
Downing had not previously played with Malaby, while Clutton and Malaby had played together once a decade before. That allowed for a mixture of familiarity and newness in the relationships that created the music on the record, Fraser said.
Fraser said he had originally envisioned Clutton and Downing both playing bass, but Downing suggested cello instead: “I think he gets more excited about projects when he gets to play cello.” But it ended up expanding the group's sound.
- Pressed jazz jam creates a happy vibe for the start of its second season
- Friends, colleagues pay tribute to Jacques Emond on special "Swing is in the Air"
- Cory Weeds Quartet with Steve Davis: remembering music and musicians past
- How do you run a successful jazz club? We ask The Cellar's Cory Weeds
- Cory Weeds swings across the country and into Ottawa
- Remembering Jacques Emond's life-long love of jazz
- Local jazz fans pack the house for last Monday jazz night at Le Petit Chicago
- What's inside Chocolate Hot Pockets ?
- Our favourite shows (Ottawa-Gatineau jazz in 2012)
- Monday jazz at Le Petit Chicago canceled suddenly
- Bill Coon and Tim Bedner attract record crowd to ZenKitchen's jazz brunch
- Oswald, Thomson, Stewart play engaging improvisations at final 2012 IMOO concert
- Holly Cole Christmas at the NAC (review)
- 2013 Geggie series is shorter and starts later, but has the same spirit
- The Nepean All-City Jazz Band: never accepting "good enough"
- The Ottawa Junior Jazz Band: a passion to play
- Dave Brubeck, who thrilled record Ottawa audiences, dies at age 91
- Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis featured at both 2013 Ottawa and Montreal jazz festivals
- Sonia Johnson: not playing it safe with jazz
- Ottawa Jazz Festival AGM talks money, not music
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