Updated 2014 September 30 to add video interviews and concert excerpts
On Friday, a benefit concert in Ottawa for the late Canadian trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler raised $900, with more expected from those who couldn't attend.
The benefit was organized by guitarist Roddy Ellias and pianist Peter Hum. They recruited Mark Ferguson on trombone, Alex Bilodeau on bass, Michel Delage on drums, and Christine Fagan on vocals. Together, they honoured Wheeler and his major influence on jazz and big band music. In two sets, they played a wide range of compositions by Wheeler, to a very attentive, quiet, and appreciative full house at Zola's Restaurant in Bells Corners.
Scott Thomson and Susanna Hood: The Muted Note
Raw Sugar Café
Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 7 p.m.
Award-winning Canadian poet P.K. Page had her work interpreted as a one-woman play, as a documentary film, and as a print/calligraphy exhibition.
Now composer Scott Thomson has translated a number of Page's imagery-laden poems into music and movement. In collaboration with choreographer and vocalist Susanna Hood, he has produced a new album, The Muted Note, containing compositions based on Page's poems.
This month they began their cross-Canada tour, presenting the music as a dance/music collaboration, with Thomson on trombone and Hood singing and using her body to express the emotion in the words. On September 21, they appeared in Ottawa, performing several pieces from the album in the first half of the show, and then improvising with Ottawa saxophonist Linsey Wellman in the second half.
Many of Thomson and Hood's shows are only as a duo, but this week in Montréal (October 2 to 5), they're enhancing the show with three more dancers and three more musicians, as part of l'OFF Festival de Jazz. The expanded show was also presented in Toronto in early September.
At the Ottawa show, the duo presented six pieces based on Page's poems. Hood sung the words and interspersed them with wordless singing and movement, while Thomson played trombone. It was a quiet, intimate show, well-suited to the cramped space in the Raw Sugar Café (some furniture was moved to give Hood enough space to dance), and kept the audience raptly attentive throughout.
Nathan Hiltz's Organic, featuring Bernie Senensky
Thursday, September 25, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
I love jazz organ music. There's something about the deep throb of a organ – whether a Hammond B3 or a church organ – that adds richness and immediacy to the music. And a lot of groove.
But there aren't that many real Hammond organs out there – or organists – so it was a treat to hear the Toronto quartet Organic in Ottawa for its first appearance Thursday.
Guitarist Nathan Hiltz and pianist/organist Bernie Senensky started playing together every Sunday night at a downtown Toronto club seven years ago. Senensky loved the sound of the club's Hammond B3; Hiltz was influenced by guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Grant Green who had regularly played with organists.
A few years later, they added tenor saxophonist Ryan Oliver and drummer Morgan Childs, and they've been performing weekly as Organic ever since. You could see and hear that familiarity in the quartet's playing: there was an ease and suppleness in how they switched leads and supported each other.
A new Wednesday evening “vocal-centric” jazz series at Santé Restaurant launched earlier this month, with a full room listening to vocalist Karen Oxorn and guitarist Tim Bedner. It continues in the weeks ahead with an uncommon lineup of talented male jazz vocalists.
The new series, curated by Bedner. arose from a series of sessions his trio played at the restaurant during the Ottawa Jazz Festival in June, as part of the Downtown Rideau BIA's festival-related programming. Prior to that, Santé Restaurant presented eight mainstream and Latin jazz duos in 2012.
On Wednesday, September 17, when I heard Nicole Ratté perform with Bedner, the restaurant was approximately half-full of diners, who were reasonably quiet and appreciative, allowing me to clearly hear the music where I sat, almost at the back of the room.
Dominique Forest will be featured tonight. She's presenting a sneak preview – indeed the first live performance – of a few original songs from her upcoming first CD, which she will release in January. Bedner has been working with her on the project and was very excited when speaking about them, describing them as “beautiful, beautiful songs.”
In October, Bedner will play with a number of experienced male jazz vocalists singing in a variety of jazz styles, starting with Steve Berndt on October 1, followed by Jerry Sociedade (Oct. 8), and Floyd Hutchinson (Oct. 15).
Audiences will be able to hear two voices of Bernie Senensky in two cities this week – grooving in an organ quartet, and more intimately in a piano-guitar duet.
The Toronto pianist is best known for the 20 years he spent playing with and writing for jazz legend Moe Koffman. But he's performed with many more musical greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Art Pepper, and Elvin Jones. He's played piano duets with Oscar Peterson and Marian McPartland, and been a member of groups including Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass, the and the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra.
This will be his first Ottawa appearance in years – in two very different shows. On Wednesday, he'll be on piano, opening the new Wednesday jazz listening series at ZenKitchen. On Thursday, he's playing organ with the Toronto quartet Organic at Zola's.
On Friday and Saturday, he's at the Résonance Café in Montreal: first with Organic, and then with his Organ Quartet, including Roddy Ellias.
Speaking to him on the phone Saturday, he was enthusiastic about both.
The ZenKitchen show is a duet with guitarist Roddy Ellias. It will feature “some original music but there also will be some familiar music and it will be more intuitive.” While the music will be more spare, that “doesn't mean every tune will be very slow – it's going to be all kinds of things.”
“I love Roddy's playing: we've played together a few times and I've known him for years,” Senensky said. When Ellias was in Toronto a few months ago, he sat in as guest with another organ group which Senensky plays with, “and that was really great. I think we have a great rapport.”
“We've both been playing this music for many decades so that breeds a closeness and a knowledge of the genre and the style. And it's beautiful the way the guitar and the piano can resound together, played by the right people.”
Senensky has had decades of experience playing with great jazz guitarists, starting with Lenny Breau, and including Herb Ellis, Sonny Greenwich, and Bucky Pizzarelli – and especially Ed Bickert.
Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca review of the David Braid/Mike Rud concert on March 14, 2015.
Pianist David Braid, guitarist Mike Rud and singer Sienna Dahlen, pianist Emie R. Roussel, and singer Jill Barber are the new jazz additions to NAC Presents for 2015. The complete series lineup was announced this morning.
Additionally, Ottawa double bassist John Geggie returns for a single Geggie Invitational concert next April, this time with a two-reed front line with saxophonists Kelly Jefferson and Frank Lozano, along with drummer Jim Doxas.
NAC Presents is the National Arts Centre series showcasing popular music by Canadian musicians. In The OttawaJazzScene.ca Jazz Favourites Poll this spring, NAC Presents was chosen by Ottawa-Gatineau jazz fans as their favourite jazz series in 2013.
The NAC announced a total of 50 performances today for the series' fourth season, including folk, indie, pop, francophone – and jazz – shows. Some had previously been announced, including Brooklyn/Ottawa multi-instrumentalist Petr Cancura (October 30), Montreal pianist/composer Marianne Trudel (October 25), and throat singer/improviser Tanya Tagaq (November 7).
Those announced today include:
Montreal guitarist Mike Rud is a popular visitor to Ottawa, frequently playing guitar duets and with larger groups. But the one lineup Ottawa audiences have never seen is that on his album, Notes on Montreal. which won the 2013 Juno for Best Vocal Jazz Album. On January 22, he'll appear with Dahlen, as she recreates her vocals from that album and sings Rud's songs, which pay tribute to the great literature about Montreal.
Vancouver jazz singer Jill Barber was last seen in Ottawa in June at the Jazz Festival, performing in Dominion Chalmers United Church. Her NAC date on March 7 will be in a comparably large space: the NAC Theatre. She will be presenting songs from her sixth album, Fool’s Gold , which is primarily jazz but with a few touches of country.
Updated October 26 to update dates and add more musicians.
See the OttawaJazzScene.ca video of the first night of this series.
Wednesday evenings have just become much more special for Ottawa jazz fans. Starting September 24, ZenKitchen is introducing a high-profile series of jazz shows, featuring many musicians rarely heard in Ottawa.
Curated by guitarist Roddy Ellias, the series will run weekly at the Centretown gourmet vegan restaurant. It will bring in well-known jazz artists from Montreal and Toronto, including Joel Miller, Dave Young, Lorne Lofsky, Bernie Senensky, Jeri Brown, and Mike Rud, as well as high-profile Ottawa-based musicians like Diane White and John Geggie – and Ellias.
The list includes several Juno Award winners, and musicians who have played with Canadian jazz icons like Oscar Peterson, Rob McConnell, and Moe Koffman.
Although food and drink will be served, “The focus will be on listening”, Ellias said.
ZenKitchen co-founder Dave Loan said that this series will be building on the success of the Sunday jazz programming which the restaurant has been running for the past two years – but with a slightly different concept.
Going into its fourth year, Merrickville's Jazz Fest is facing the problems of success.
The festival, which runs from October 16-19 this year, sold out three shows in 2013. It received almost twice as many applications from musicians in 2014 compared to 2013. And it's added one more concert over last year to an already-packed schedule. (continued below)
- Merrickville's Jazz Fest Day 1: full houses and happy listeners and dancers
- Brian Browne is MJF's first and busy artist-in-residence this year
- Blossom Dearie tribute is 'hip' at Merrickville's Jazz Fest (video)
- Sun Crescent Barbecue Stompers bring The Big Easy to Merrickville
- Adam Daudrich Trio at MJF: melodic and propulsive with a solid bass
|A few of the musicians you can hear at Merrickville's Jazz Fest this year all photos ©Brett Delmage, OttawaJazzScene.ca|
Its 2014 program features 17 concerts at locations around downtown Merrickville, including:
- a tribute to unique vocalist Blossom Dearie
- acclaimed Ottawa pianist Brian Browne
- the quartet of Montreal bebop drummer Norman Marshall Villeneuve, with long-time Montreal jazz musicians Dave Turner, Eric Lagacé, and Félix Stüssi
- Toronto swing and gypsy jazz vocalist Denielle Bassels, and
- the trio of Montreal pianist and composer Adam Daudrich
along with shows by a wide range of Ottawa-Gatineau jazz musicians.
John Heward and Barre Phillips 80th Birthday Celebration
Guelph Jazz Festival
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 – 8 p.m.
Montreal jazz drummer John Heward is also renowned Canadian painter and sculptor John Heward, and he shows a similar experimental bent in both his artistic pursuits.
For the week of the Guelph Jazz Festival, the main floor walls of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre featured several of his artworks: canvas painted and twisted into large-scale dramatic pieces. When he performed at the art centre as the first evening show of the festival – with some of his favourite musicians – there was a similar feeling of drama, uncertainty, and flair.
The concert and show were to celebrate Heward's 80th birthday – but only his 31st year as a professional musician. He played the drums as a teenager, but then concentrated on the visual arts. In 1983, at 49 years old, he bought a set of drums, and started playing improvised music. He's played in various avant-garde groups in Montreal, including Nicolas Caloia's Ratchet Orchestra, and PO (“Provocative Operations”). He leads the free jazz group Murray Street Band.
Pugs & Crows
Guelph Jazz Festival
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
Thursday, September 4, 2014 – 5 p.m.
View photos of this performance
Pugs & Crows is a Vancouver-based instrumental group which creates “dramatic cinematic music” blending indie rock and modern jazz. Their most recent album, Fantastic Pictures, won the 2013 Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year.
They played an hour-long late afternoon show at the Guelph Jazz Festival, to an enthusiastic and packed crowd. Performing with lots of energy and tight arrangements, they went through a good selection of numbers from both their albums, plus a few new pieces.
The group has an unusual lineup, with piano (Cat Toren) and violin (Meredith Bates) joining electric guitar (Cole Schmidt) as lead instruments, together with double bass (Russell Sholberg) and drums (Ben Brown). For this show, their music was accented by guest Tony Wilson on electric guitar and slide guitar, adding fluid lines and strong emotional touches.
Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO)
Raw Sugar Café
Sunday, September 14, 2014
IMOO opened its fourth season on Sunday by returning to its roots in the local scene. It brought together a diverse collection of Ottawa-area improvisers in unexpected combinations, in its first evening in IMOO's new home of Raw Sugar Café.
IMOO organizers Linsey Wellman (alto sax) and David Jackson (guitar) arranged for Ian Birse (electronics and electric guitar), David Broscoe (alto sax, tuning forks, and noisemakers), Laura Kavanaugh (violin), Rory Magill (xylophone and percussion), and Mark Molnar (cello) to play in duos, trios, quartets, and all together. They tried a new format: each group who played would pick the next set of musicians to be thrown together to improvise.
Wellman, Jackson, and Magill began quietly, with shimmering guitar and low tones on sax, and became more intense, with Magill joining in with light taps on xylophone near the end. The collaborations which followed constantly changed textures and sounds: rough-edged violin and cello contrasting with shakers; rattling bells and ringing tuning forks alternating with with buzzing electronically-altered electric guitar and punctuated notes on saxophone. Near the end, there was even an (atypical) string quartet.
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- Happy birthday – with saxophones (review)
- Mash Potato Mashers attract the masses in Montreal
- The Souljazz Orchestra sets the beat at the Montreal Jazz Festival
- More jazz - in Montreal
- Marc Copland and Roddy Ellias: finding connections
- David Mott's Journey to the Land of Oz
- NAC to showcase three jazz artists next fall
- Last song for JazzWorks jam coordinator Peter Liu
- Two voices are more than one at Boy's Night Out
- Poetry inspires music at IMOO on Sunday
- CKCU host Ron Sweetman previews the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival line-up
- 2011-12 Geggie Series: Ballads and blues and quiet (review)
- Diane White: a career with unexpected twists
- Craig Pedersen explores Grey Areas with his new CD
- Hear about the new Jazz Festival CD
- Kelly Craig Sextet plays Adam Daudrich at the NAC 4th Stage (review)
- Ottawa Hard Bop Association co-leaders speak about their music
- Michael Snow: making music in the now
- It's Déjá Vu with Steve Berndt and Brian Browne
- Making the most of great songs (review)
- The benefits of experience (review)
- Brandi Disterheft Quartet brings an energetic vibe to the Fourth Stage (review)
- Alex Moxon talks about his new 4tet and his music
- Brandi Disterheft: "you can only be who you are, on stage"
- Norah Jones, Souljazz Orchestra, Lucas Haneman at Bluesfest 2012
- Jazzfest 2012: Jazz music highlights of the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival
- Renée Yoxon: making Dave Frishberg her pal
- Jazzfest 2012: Younger and a bit jazzier but definitely covered (an analysis)
- Oscar Peterson: Germans and Canadians celebrate music that transcends boundaries
- Amy Cervini: swinging in her own way with Blossom Dearie
- The Stretch Orchestra wins a 2012 Juno Award; tour delayed
- Three Ottawa vocalists await their critiques in the final NAC Manhattan on the Rideau masterclass
- Juno nominee Fern Lindzon: "whatever inspires"
- CYJO heats up Ottawa with a Latin vibe and 46 musicians
- Celebrating Katie Malloch's commitment to jazz
- Mike Rud tells stories with his guitar (review)
- 2011-12 Geggie Series: "It's not work, it's play" (review)
- 2011-12 Geggie Series: four musicians in concert (review)
- 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival: pass prices increase
- The Walrus Guitar Quartet: all together
- Ottawa Winter Jazzfest engages audiences for Canadian and local artists
- Two personae of Patrick Breiner
- Pulse Mondiale warms up the Winter 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival
- Our 2011 recap: jazz and improvisation probe the boundaries in Ottawa
- Guitar wizards satisfy audience (review)
- Full house, intent listeners greet Titanium Trio
- SSS Trio brings youthful energy to January Wednesdays
- David Occhipinti: beyond categories
- Kellylee Evans: body and soul (review)
- Franky Rousseau: thinking large
- Inside the Music: every musician has a story
- IMOO musicians explore new 'instruments' and new approaches
- Craig Pedersen Quartet CD Release Concert gets a bravo
- 2011-12 Geggie Series: two masters communicate (review)
- JunoFest: an opportunity for Ottawa-area jazz musicians
- Two modern big bands: one small bar
- Craig Pedersen, Hands-on musician
- Controversy over non-jazz acts reaches Ottawa Jazz Festival Annual Meeting
- NCC cuts funding for Canada Day jazz programming and Jazz Youth Summit
- Jensen / Geggie / Olin Trio: jazz flowing out into the quiet (review)
- Beatlemania: music for all ages
- Curiosity Killed the Quartet - Again
- Renée Yoxon: Two years of Monday late-night jazz
- Season tickets available for 2011-12 Geggie series
- Hear jazz artists on CBC before you see them!
- Alice Groves: a flowing lateral arabesque
- 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival: Creative Collective
- Standards singers overflow new GigSpace at Culture Days
- The 2011 OttawaJazzScene.ca Jazz Listener Survey Results
- Where there's no smoke there's Fire
- 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival: Tilting, and Plimley-Parker-Martin
- Bill Jupp Sextet packs in appreciative audience at Taste of Wellington
- IMOO's "quiet" concert #31 ends a successful first year
- Carleton University Jazz Camp: from the inside
- Jazz to look forward to in 2011-12
- NAC announces 2011-12 Manhattan on the Rideau masterclasses
- Roddy Ellias, Brian Browne, Michel Donato: emphasizing the melody
- Differences in ticket prices?
- Jerry Granelli interview on CBC, now on-line
- An improvised rock concert
- Carleton University Jazz Camp (from the vault)
- JazzWorks jams feeling the pressures of success
- Django Libre gets listeners out of their seats at Rendez-Vous Rideau Jazz Stage
- Nicole Ratté dresses Québec songs in jazz
- Jazzfest 2011: Megan Jerome brings unusual instrumentation and songs to Rendez-Vous Rideau Jazz Stage
- Jazzfest 2011: Renée Yoxon and René Gely
- Jazzfest 2011: Lucas Haneman Trio at Rendez-Vous Rideau Jazz Stage
- Jazzfest 2011: Angele Desbois Jazz Ensemble Rendez-Vous with their audience
- 'My First NAC' recognizes three promising Ottawa jazz artists
- PianoLessMonk plays IMOO
- Doug Martin undertakes an Odyssey
- Ottawa Jazz Festival's Catherine O'Grady receives award for Festival work
- Less outdoor and more indoor jazz at the 2011 Ottawa Jazz Festival
- Ottawa Jazz Festival Programmer Petr Cancura talks about the 2011 Festival
- One fewer stage at the 2011 Ottawa Jazz Festival
- Jazz Festival workshops gone
- 2011 Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup: what's on
- Inside the Scene: The Matt Aston Trio at Café Nostalgica
- Carleton University Contemporary Music Ensemble fills the Umi Café
- Pauline Oliveros and Jesse Stewart present unique concert on St. Patrick's Day
- The Denisons: a family playing jazz together
- Jazz in the woods attracts a large and quiet audience
- A tribute to Bill Jupp's lasting influence
- New Ottawa venue Flamingo wants to showcase jazz musicians
- Jesse Stewart talks about the link between art and sound
- Ottawa Jazz Festival names Petr Cancura as new programming director
- Our most memorable Ottawa-Gatineau jazz shows in 2010
- Peter Hum on the other side of the keyboards
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