Despite his 40-year career in the Canadian foreign service, Gaby Warren has been an integral part of Ottawa's jazz scene since the early 1980s. He's served as the vice-president of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and a JazzWorks jam coordinator. In 2005, the Ottawa Jazz Festival gave Warren its Award of Distinction for his commitment to jazz in Ottawa-Gatineau.
He's also one of the biggest jazz fans in town – not uncritically, by any means – but with a deep appreciation of many types of jazz. You frequently see him at concerts and clubs around Ottawa.
Talking to Warren – and he's always delighted to do so – is an education in itself. Partly courtesy of his travels for the government and expertise in issues related to the United Nations, he's seen more influential jazz musicians in concert than almost anyone. He also has an impressive CD habit, and these days, he's listening to live concerts from Smalls in NYC over the Internet.
But his deepest love is for Afro-Cuban jazz, courtesy of a stint in the Canadian embassy in Cuba in the mid-1960s. The result: Warren and Cuba had far more impact on each other than could ever have been predicted, including bringing music to renowned musicians like Chucho Valdès and Paquito D'Rivera.
Now Warren has stepped to the other side of the footlights. After 16 years of studying jazz vocals and 8 years of music theory lessons, he's released a CD. It's effectively his musical memoirs, playing hommage to the styles of jazz he loves, and backed by some fine musicians from Ottawa and Toronto. They include veteran Toronto saxophonist Kirk MacDonald, and the Geggie Trio (John Geggie on bass, Nancy Walker on piano, and Nick Fraser on drums) well-known for their decade-long run as the house band for the jams at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and much more as individual jazz musicians in Ottawa and Toronto.
The CD's official release is at a concert in Ottawa this Tuesday (May 21) at the NAC Fourth Stage, and at The Rex Jazz Club in Toronto on June 3.
It's entitled Reflections of a Jazz Fanatic, and that's exactly how Warren refers to himself. He makes no secret of how much he loves the music.
OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Warren a week before his concert, in an extended, free-flowing interview about how he was introduced to jazz, his adventures in Cuba, what types of jazz he loves, how he started singing, and about the album itself. We're releasing it as a podcast, and have included some excerpts from the podcast below.
Friday, May 24, 2013 - 7:30 p.m.
- Paul Rushka – double-bass
- Frank Lozano – tenor & soprano saxophones
- Kenny Bibace – guitar
- Josh Rager – piano
- Mark Nelson – drums
Award-winning bassist and composer Paul Rushka is thrilled to bring his compelling quintet to GigSpace as part of a national tour. Since 1997, Paul has engaged audiences throughout North America, Europe, and Asia with his sonorous tone, assured confident pulse, and eloquent melodic soloing. All About Jazz describes him as “a postmodern Milt Hinton” with a “sense of gravitas, melodic flair, rich timbre and unshakable time”. He is featured on over a dozen recordings, including those of James Danderfer, Chad Makela, Jillian Lebeck and Laura Crema, and has accompanied jazz greats such as John Taylor, Joe LaBarbera, Julian Priester, Jimmy Greene, Jeremy Pelt, Danny Grissett, Brad Turner, Ross Taggart, Kirk MacDonald, Kevin Dean, and many more. He has also been featured several times on CBC radio with live and studio.
Since its formation in 2008, Paul’s interactive, exploratory quintet has developed an incredible rapport, seamlessly melding ensemble passages and formidable, intricate improvisations into a vivid group sound. This is music that strikes at the mind, the heart, and the soul. Rushka’s debut album as a leader, titled As It Happens, features his lyrical original compositions and his group’s stunning interplay. Communication is at the centre of this music – individual voices entwine and textures unfurl, creating a shifting embroidery of contemporary jazz.
Paul holds a Master of Music degree from McGill University, where he was awarded a prestigious Schulich Scholarship to pursue his education. Paul studied performance concepts with saxophonist Rémi Bolduc and trumpeter Kevin Dean and composition with Joe Sullivan. In November 2009, McGill's Chamber Jazz Ensemble premiered his Captive Spring Suite, a three movement work for 10 musicians, which featured drummer Joe LaBarbera as guest artist. While at McGill, Paul had the opportunity to work closely with visiting artists including pianists John Taylor and Jim McNeely, and bassist John Patitucci. Paul earned his undergraduate degree from North Vancouver's Capilano College Jazz Studies program, where he studied jazz bass with André Lachance and Chris Nelson and classical bass with David G. Brown. In 1998, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the International Jazz Workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts, where he had the opportunity to learn from an international faculty that included bassists Don Thompson and Ray Drummond, as well as trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, clarinetist Phil Nimmons, and trombonist Hugh Fraser, among others.
In 2003, Paul won a Western Canadian Music Award for Best Jazz Album for his work on the Mike Allen Trio's Dialectic. He has appeared with several great names in jazz, including Julian Priester, Jimmy Greene, Jeremy Pelt, Kevin Dean, Andre White and Kirk MacDonald, and has often been called upon to back up various visiting artists at the Jazz Cellar in Vancouver. While Paul is currently focusing his creative energies on his quintet, he also leads a trio with Dave Sikula on guitar and Bernie Arai on drums, which has been featured for several years at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and has recorded for CBC's Hot Air radio program. In addition to maintaining a busy performance schedule in Montréal and Vancouver, Paul is currently at work on a doctorate in Jazz Performance Studies at McGill University.
Tickets available at the door. Advance tickets available by calling 613-729-0693.
GigSpace (in Alcorn Music Studios)
953 Gladstone Avenue @ Loretta (Little Italy area, one block west of Preston Street)
Friday, May 24, 2013 - 8 to 11 p.m.
No age restrictions.
- Miguel de Armas - piano
- Marc Decho - bass
- Arien Villegas - percussion
Miguel de Armas,the Ottawa based and Cuban born pianist has brought together a powerful and energetic style and at times ideas seem to be flying out from under his fingers almost more quickly than he can fully process them. With the help of a rhythm team, drummer Arien Villegas and bassist Marc Decho, he manages to keep his feet on the ground and generate lots of inspiring moments during their performance.
Tasty and head turning musical arrangements of the classic jazz standards, Cuban traditional music as well as from his own, are definitely heating up a bit the Ottawa music scene.
The kitchen is open until 10:30 p.m.
Burgers on Main
343 Somerset Street West, between Bank and O'Connor
2 doors west of Bank Street, In the heart of Somerset Village
Friday, May 24, 2013 – 8 p.m.
Tickets: adults $28, seniors $25, students $23
Tickets can be bought at a kiosk at Gatineau's City Hall, or online at http://www.ovation.qc.ca/gatineau
- Lysandre Champagne - trumpet, vocals
- Maude Alain-Gendreau - piano
- Frédéric Pauze - upright bass
- Marton Maderspach - snare drum
The Misses Satchmo borrows the great Louis « Satchmo » Armstrong’s nickname and breathes new life into his song book. The band gives a renewed youth to Satchmo’s repertoire. They take us on a trip in the world of Louis, the Duke and Ella, all of whom played at the great Standish Hall in Hull in the 50’s and 60’s.
Mené par la pétillante Lysandre Champagne (voix et trompette), le charmant quatuor Misses Satchmo présente sa relecture actuelle et originale de l’oeuvre de Louis Armstrong, surnommé Satchmo.
Un groupe de musiciens chevronnés distribuant sourires et clins d’oeil, les Misses s’amusent dans une joyeuse mise en scène de style cabaret, fortement imprégnée de l’esprit New-Orleans.
Elles portent le “Misses” puisque deux des quatre membres sont des femmes, et même devant la parité, c’est le féminin qui l’emporte! Le plaisir de jouer ensemble et l'authenticité de ces quatre complices gagnent les spectateurs dès les premières notes du spectacle.
Influences: Tout le répertoire de Louis Armstrong, Creole Jazz Band de Joe King Oliver, Hot Five, Hot Seven, Big Bill Broonzy, la Reine des Reines: Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Allen Toussaint, Ramsey Lewis Trio.
Presented by Ville de Gatineau.
Cabaret La Basoche
Centre Culturel Du Vieux-Aylmer
120 rue Principale (Aylmer sector)
Update May 14, 2013: The Ottawa Jazz Festival tweeted this morning that it had found a venue for the late-night jams. "Band and more information to be announced shortly!"
Local jazz fans and musicians are urging the Ottawa Jazz Festival not to cancel its late-night jam sessions.
The jams have been in limbo for the last five months, and festival programming director Petr Cancura said they will not go ahead unless a sponsor is found for them.
“Basically we're looking for partners, and we're looking for venues, and it's hard because it's a sponsorship-partnership and the sponsorship deals with the hotels are constantly changing. ... Our sponsorship person is looking into that and working hard. Honestly, I keep bugging her every other day. I'm like, 'So what's happening? What's happening?' She's like, 'Working on it, working hard.' So that's all I can say.”
For the last two years, the jams were held at ARC The Hotel on Slater Street, close to Confederation Park. At its launch on Wednesday, the festival announced that ARC was back as a sponsor providing lodging for musicians, but had no announcements on the jams.
“We just don't know yet. There's a few talks, but we don't know,” Cancura said. He said he hoped to have news within the next two weeks.
Local jazz fans and musicians are arguing the festival should not be dropping the jams.
Jeff Johnston Trio
Friday, April 26, 2013
GigSpace Performance Studio
It was a night where the music flowed out over the audience, and they responded with rapt attention.
After an absence of many years, pianist Jeff Johnston brought his trio to Ottawa April 26. The occasion: the release of his new album, the first in more than a decade.
So long-time fans of the Newfoundland-born, Montreal-based pianist, some of whom had already heard the album, were anticipating the concert even before it started. And Johnston, bassist Fraser Hollins, and drummer Rich Irwin did not disappoint them.
The show consisted of originals from the new album, Returning, plus several interesting standards, played intensely and melodically in a way that made full use of the quietness and excellent acoustics of GigSpace.
Johnston started alone on the piano, introducing “How Deep is the Ocean”. He carefully took the song apart and arranged it in new patterns – before the bass and drums joined in for a an assured recounting of the standard. You could hear immediately that this trio had experience playing together: they smoothly switched places and easily supported one another.
The remaining songs in the first set were all originals from Returning, each of which used resonance and echo to add drama and interest to the music. In “At You”, Johnston and Hollins traded the lead but each built up the strong tune. “What” began with ghostly effects on drums and bass, with a few reverberant notes on piano following. Unlike the other songs in the set, it stayed sparse and somewhat jagged, increasing in intensity and speed until finally resolving to a still-sparse melody, with repeated fast runs of notes on both piano and bass.
NAC Presents, the National Arts Centre's showcase for Canadian musicians, will be bringing back Ottawa singer Kellylee Evans in its 2013-14 series – but that's the only jazz in that series so far.
Evans will be playing the NAC Studio (300 seats) on Wednesday, December 18. She appeared in this year's season of NAC Presents on April 20 at the 180-seat NAC Fourth Stage. That show sold out weeks in advance.
The NAC announced the Evans concert May 8, as part of an initial announcement of the fall section of its season.The remaining artists announced ranged from rock to folk to indie to country. There were no other jazz artists. In 2012-13, the NAC Presents lineup included eight jazz artists, including three in the fall; in 2011-12, there were five jazz artists, including two in the fall, plus the Geggie series.
The Montreal Jazz Festival is celebrating pianists this year, with its 2013 edition dedicated to the late pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, a three-concert residency by Vijay Iyer, and a Pianissimo series.
“Mr. Brubeck was a proud partisan, champion and habitué of our event, which he honoured with 14 concerts between 1981 and 2011, and during the 30th edition of the Festival, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the legendary Time Out,” the festival said in a press release about their indoor concert lineup.
The festival will close with a tribute to Brubeck on July 7, performed by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet together with with Montreal musicians Lorraine Desmarais, Adrian Vedady, and Chet Doxas, “celebrating a repertoire that is quite simply the living memory of jazz”.
Other notable pianists performing during the festival will include Geri Allen (in the ACS Trio), Aaron Parks (with Kurt Rosenwinkel), Jason Moran, Craig Taborn, Barry Harris, Bill Charlap, Jacky Terrasson, Steve Kuhn, Lawrence Field, Laurent de Wilde, and Oliver Jones. From Cuba will come Chucho Valdés, and jazz prodigy Harold López-Nussa.
NYC pianist Vijay Iyer will play a series of three Invitational concerts in the acoustically-supportive Salle Gesù. On July 4, he will reprise his album, Accelerando (named the 2012 Jazz Album of the Year in the International Critics Poll in DownBeat Magazine), in a trio with bassist Justin Brown and drummer Stephan Crump. On July 5, he'll perform a duet with iconoclast Craig Taborn, and on July 6, he'll play a solo concert.
Of course, as the largest jazz festival in the world, the Montreal jazz festival is offering much,much more: every type of jazz – and pop, soul, and blues as well. It runs from June 28 to July 7 this year. Ottawa fans will be able to hear its last seven days without missing any of the Ottawa jazz festival.
The breadth of Canadian jazz talent will be on display at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival, including more artists from Western Canada.
Many musicians not seen recently in Ottawa – John Stetch, Brad Turner, Peggy Lee, Vic Vogel, Jon Ballantyne, and Seamus Blake – will appear, along with some new names like Tyson Naylor, Alan Jones, and Roberto López.
Several of these are hidden in less-expected series or under less-obvious band names. But there's an advantage to that, too – you get to hear them play with new people and feature new material!
Festival programming director Petr Cancura told OttawaJazzScene.ca that the wider geographic range this year was deliberate: “We really sat down and said, 'Let's make the Great Canadian series a cross-Canada thing – you know, really work hard on that'.” When all the jazz festivals in Canada met together in November, he said, they decided to “really try to represent each part of the country. So we stuck to it. We didn't back out.”
There will also be some impressive locally-connected groups playing the Main Stage, the NAC or Dominion Chalmers – the Stretch Orchestra, Kellylee Evans, Los Gringos, Rob Frayne's Dream Band, and the Souljazz Orchestra – which you can read about in our Local Artists story.
Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's guide to some of the best Canadians or Canadian expats appearing at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival.
The first is a concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Oscar-nominated animated film, The Triplets of Belleville. Montreal guitarist Benoit Charest wrote the soundtrack to that movie, and won a French César Award for it. He was also nominated for a Grammy and an Oscar for one of its songs. He will be recreating the soundtrack on-stage, in a seven-piece band that includes Chet Doxas, keyboardist Dan Thouin, and drummer Jim Doxas, and instruments which range from tuba, vibraphone, and foley to vacuum-cleaner. OttawaJazzScene.ca heard Chet Doxas play an high-energy show together with Charest and Thouin at the 2012 Montreal Jazz Festival: see our review with photos.
- Roddy Ellias: a humble Jazz Hero
- Jeff Johnston returns to his trio's musical roots and then moves forward with his new album
- Evandro Gracelli brings Brazilian warmth to Ottawa for three busy weeks
- Energetic music attracts a packed house at Rimbombante CD release show
- Jazzfest 2013: Local musicians you will want to hear
- Expecting the unexpected at Saturday's GigSpace concert of improvising composers
- Listeners get JazzED at 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup announcement
- Ottawa Jazz Festival 2013 lineup: what's on
- Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra - in the making (video)
- The Jivewires are on an upswing
- Ontario government funds jazz (and other Ottawa festivals)
- Three Ottawa vocalists to recreate classic Ella and Billie Newport concerts
- 2013 Chamberfest builds on past jazz successes, adds Phil Dwyer & Don Thompson
- Hamid Drake and Jesse Stewart fill GigSpace with complex sounds
- Guitar Now! Festival to present workshops, concerts and jams in May
- Monday night jazz is returning to Le Petit Chicago
- ZenKitchen to offer jazz every second Sunday
- Hamid Drake and Jesse Stewart: percussion as you've never heard it before this Friday
- Laila Biali takes risks with choosing and playing music
- Molly Johnson ups the energy and vibe at a sold-out NAC show
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