Holly Cole Christmas
Thursday, December 20, 2012
National Arts Centre Theatre
CBC Radio will broadcast selections from this concert on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. (Radio 2, 103.3 FM) and on Christmas Day at 6 p.m. (Radio 1, 91.5 FM).
It's a difficult task to pick songs for what's billed as a Christmas concert. Unless you want to remind your audience of school auditoriums, you don't want to go "All carols, all the time" or even all seasonal songs.
Vocalist Holly Cole solved that by salting her concert Thursday night with just enough seasonal music – all impeccably jazz – to justify its Christmas billing, while also including favourite hits and a selection of songs from her latest CD, Night.
During her decades-long career, Cole has gathered many fans, and the enthusiasm was evident in the sold-out theatre even before the music started. Parents had brought their children (some dressed in Christmas finery); others were clearly there for a date night. The concert was being taped by CBC Radio, and announcer Meg Wilcox asked the audience to preview three levels of applause to allow the technicians to calibrate recording levels. You could hear the anticipation, as the loudest applause level reverberated around the NAC Theatre.
Updated January 4, 2012
The 12th season of John Geggie's invitational jazz series will be both shorter and closer to home.
The number of concerts in the series has been cut in half (from six to three), and all the musicians will be from central Canada. Nevertheless, Geggie is enthusiastic about the series, which will present several artists who have rarely been heard in Ottawa – and, as usual, in less familiar combinations, playing music they're not necessarily conversant with.
There's “a certain amount of risk involved,” he said. “It's not a packaged thing, as some concerts can be: it's a little bit more on the edge approach.”
This season's Geggie series concerts at the National Arts Centre (NAC) Fourth Stage will include:
• Frank Lozano, Thom Gossage, Jean-Nicolas Trottier (February 16, 2013)
• Roddy Ellias, Pierre Tanguay, David Braid (March 9)
• Tara Davidson, Tim Bedner, William Carn, Jim Doxas (May 25)
Tickets are now on sale, at the same price as last year ($30/show), or all three shows for $80.
In the first concert, three Montrealers will join Geggie and his double bass on stage. While tenor saxophonist Frank Lozano frequently plays here, drummer Thom Gossage has not been in Ottawa for a number of years. And trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier has not been here as a leader at all – although he received the Galaxie Rising Star award at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2003, and has played in many well-known Quebec big bands (including those led by Joe Sullivan, Lorraine Desmarais, Vic Vogel, and Alain Caron).
Ottawa's vibrant jazz scene is being created by teens, too – as you could hear at a well-attended concert in Barrhaven last Friday with two student big bands.
Closing the evening was Nepean All-City Jazz Band (NACJB), which provides an opportunity for jazz players aged 15-20 to develop and share their musical talent. Directed by teacher and school administrator Neil Yorke-Slader, it has long since outgrown its Nepean roots, and now draws from right across Ottawa.
Together with the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band (OJJB) which performs the same function for 13-15 year-olds, the NACJB stimulates the cream of Ottawa's young jazz musicians into getting even better.
Now in its 26th year, the band is recognized as one of the best in Canada. It's received the Canadian Music Educators' Association's Don Wright Award for excellence in Canadian jazz eight times, most recently in 2011-12. NACJB alumni have gone on to study music at university and make professional careers in jazz.
“What this band is about is creating a platform for [the students in it] to be challenged and inspired by each other,” said Yorke-Slader. “They may not be getting that depending on their high school setting. Most of these kids, for example, they're the best player in their school, so how do they get to the next step? And the only way you get to the next step – it's like in junior hockey, you put the really great 16-year-old on the Ottawa 67s and then he plays with older kids and gets better. That's the journey that I see here.”
Ottawa music teacher Mandar Gumaste had a dream: to create a big band where younger teens could enjoy great jazz music and get better at playing it. Now in its 11th year, the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band (OJJB) is still going strong, and Mandar and his students look forward to every Tuesday night practice.
OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed Mandar and members of the OJJB at their 10th anniversary concert about the band, how it's evolved, and what they've got from it. Watch highlights of our interviews and selections from the concert in the video, below the jump.
Dave Brubeck, the renowned jazz pianist who enthralled huge Ottawa jazz audiences twice in the last five years, died Wednesday of heart failure, according to the New York Times. He was one day short of his 92nd birthday.
Brubeck was both a consistent innovator and popularizer of jazz. Starting in the late 40s, his experiments with new rhythmic and compositional styles – particularly odd meters like 5/4 and 9/8 in some of his most popular pieces – took jazz in new directions. Along with his musical partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, he was the best-known proponent of the West Coast Cool Jazz style with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Several of the quartet's recordings, including Desmond's “Take Five” and Brubeck's “Blue Rondo à la Turk” and “In Your Own Sweet Way”, are jazz classics – and crossed over at the time to become pop hits as well.
But, as Ottawa audiences heard in 2007 and in 2010, Brubeck was never content to play just the old stuff. He continued to compose well into his 80s. In 2006, a mini-opera he composed based on John Steinbeck's Cannery Row was presented at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Brubeck was a jazz ambassador for the United States, and the music he heard while on his frequent tours influenced his own, most obviously with "Blue Rondo à la Turk”. His quartet toured the Soviet Union in 1987 after decades of trying to get there – one of the rare American jazz groups to do so. Brubeck accompanied President Reagan to Moscow to perform at the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in 1988.
In 2007, Brubeck's appearance with his quartet at the Ottawa Jazz Festival drew an estimated 9,700 listeners to Confederation Park. In 2010, he played with his quartet and the NAC Orchestra; the park was near capacity, with a crowd estimated at 10,500. Although Brubeck let others handle the spoken introductions at that concert, he clearly looked happy and played energetically, and flashed a big grin at the audience at the end. [review]
He is survived by his one daughter and four musical sons – one of whom lives in Guelph, Ontario. Cellist Matt Brubeck teaches at York University, and plays in several jazz groups, including the Stretch Orchestra with guitarist Kevin Breit and Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart. The Stretch Orchestra won a Juno for its first album in 2012.
– Alayne McGregor
Both the Ottawa and Montreal Jazz Festivals advanced toward their 2013 summer festivals this past week by announcing several major artists you'll be able to hear next June.
In celebration of Wayne Shorter's 80th birthday, both festivals will put this legendary jazz master on a major indoor stage. Shorter's quartet previously played on the Ottawa festival's main stage in the pouring rain in 2009. In 2013, the quartet will be part of the Ottawa Jazz Festival's new Signature Series inside Dominion Chalmers United Church, as one of the closing acts on June 30. Listeners may appreciate the respite from possible rain and/or extreme heat this time.
It remains to be seen how listeners will react to this newly announced jazz festival indoor venue, which is a 15-minute walk from the Main Stage. In our past jazz listener survey, jazz fans expressed general approval of the more acoustically-supportive indoor venues (like the Studio Series at the NAC) but a dislike for venues further away from Confederation Park; specifically, the jam sessions formerly at the far end of downtown.
Juno award-winning jazz vocalist Sonia Johnson took a risk when she proposed her new project to Effendi Records this year – a risk typical of her career, and which you can evaluate at her concert this Sunday in Gatineau.
She wanted to add words to instrumental compositions by prominent Quebec jazz musicians who record on Effendi, and then produce an album with her singing them. Called “vocalese”, this process requires a very careful matching of words and music.
Effendi could have turned her down. Each of the musicians could have turned her down.
But, as it turned out, no one refused, and everyone was enthusiastic. “When we reached each composer, to ask them their permission, there was no 'no way'. It was all 'Yes, Sonia, that's so great. We're really happy you're going to sing our stuff.' ”
The result is a new CD, Triades, released on October 23. It's a collaboration among three vocalists – Johnson, Charles Biddle Jr, and Annie Poulain – and three instrumentalists – pianist Marianne Trudel, bassist Morgan Moore, and drummer Jim Doxas. The lyrics are in both English and French.
In her show this Sunday at Les Brasseurs du Temps in Gatineau, Johnson will be singing two songs from Triades, along with originals from her Juno-winning album, Le carré de nos amours, and jazz standards in English, Portuguese, and French.
The Ottawa Jazz Festival lost $28,913 in 2012, primarily due to a 16% drop in box office revenues compared to 2011, according to the financial statements presented to the festival's 2012 annual general meeting.
Unsurprisingly, money was the main topic of conversation at the lightly-attended AGM on November 22.
In fact, it was practically the only topic, since the festival decided to drop the Programming Committee report to the AGM, and other reports only briefly mentioned the music presented in 2012. Unlike in previous years, there were no hints of what artists or concert formats might be expected for 2013. Festival programming manager Petr Cancura did not attend.
Festival attendance, at 291,000, slipped below 2011 and 2010 levels (295,000 in 2011 and 292,000 in 2010). In contrast, the Vancouver Jazz Festival increased its attendance by 30,000 (5%) in 2012; the Montreal Jazz Festival broke even in 2012 although it had a 3% drop in ticket sales.
Box office revenues dropped from $782,447 in 2011 to $654,835 in 2012, despite increases ranging from 5.3 to 9.4% in the price of festival passes this year.
Festival president Rick Brooks attributed the drop to tough economic times. “It's hard what's going on in Ottawa with cutbacks in the government and how that impacts a lot of our members. It's hard to find dollars that people have that they can afford to spend on tickets. … We wish our [financial] numbers had been higher than they were, I wish there hadn't been a $29,000 loss, but I think that's an indication of the economy.”
Festival executive producer Catherine O'Grady said that “things come in cycles, and some years are better to us than others”, and the festival will certainly try to not to have a deficit again. She said that the best-selling concert at the 2012 festival was the double bill of Ziggy Marley and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers: “a wonderful night of great music, great weather, and lots of laughs.”
Unlike in previous years, the festival did not separately tally the revenue from the summer festival and from the winter concert series, but instead lumped all the ticket revenue together.
Rob Frayne is a saxophonist, keyboard player, composer, and arranger. Over the past 25 years, he's had a huge presence on the Ottawa jazz scene as a musician in several prominent groups, as a founder of the JazzWorks jazz camp, and as a mentor and teacher.
Eight years ago, he was injured when his car was hit by a truck. But he's come back and is dreaming bigger than ever. His latest project is a doubleheader concert at the NAC Fourth Stage on Wednesday, October 31 and Thursday, November 1. It will feature his Dream Band: 15 well-respected Canadian jazz musicians, the people he knew could interpret his compositions well.
Rob talked with OttawaJazzScene.ca about the concert, the music he's written for it, and how he's fulfilling his dreams.
- Tim Bedner finds the right time for his first CD
- A musical connection which spans continents
- Chick Corea & Gary Burton: A fiery delight on a cold, wet night (review)
- IMOOfest 2012 Night 1: showing off variety in improvised music (review)
- Jesse Stewart brings the audience into his D.O.M.E at Electric Fields
- Larry Ochs and Hamid Drake at the Guelph Jazz Festival (review)
- Inaugural IMOOfest opens with a strong lineup, with more to follow tonight
- IMOO: Still making it up as they go, two years later (video)
- NAC Presents - an all-vocal jazz lineup for 2012-13
- The Happiness Project at the Guelph Jazz Festival (review)
- John Coltrane at the Guelph Jazz Festival (review)
- The gift of reverberation: Colin Stetson and Ben Grossman at the Guelph Jazz Festival (review)
- Huntsville: louder in Guelph, quieter in Ottawa?
- 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival: around the world and into new places
- You'll lose sleep over Guelph's Nuit Blanche
- Yoxon/Ferguson CD fundraising campaign reaches its goal
- A musical preview of Renée Yoxon's and Mark Ferguson's new CD
- Strong jazz lineup in Ottawa and Gatineau this fall
- Mark Fewer's violin extravaganza at Ottawa Chamberfest (review)
- John MacLeod Big Band (review)
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