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A standing ovation for So Long Seven's mélange of rhythms and influences

So Long Seven
Parc de l'Imaginaire, Gatineau (Aylmer sector)
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 – 7:30 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

So Long Seven is a mélange – and a delicious one, too, judging from the enthusiastic response to its recent show in Gatineau.

Ravi Naimpally is trained in Hindustani classical music and other world music traditions. He contributed two pieces based on Ontario waterfalls. ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Its four musicians play guitar, violin, five-string banjo, and tablas. Its music – almost all originals – draws from folk, bluegrass, and world music, but with a strong jazz and improvisational focus.

That's not surprising given the backgrounds of these musicians: banjo player Tim Posgate from avant-garde jazz; guitarist Neil Hendry from jazz and blues; violinist William Lamoureux from pop and jazz. Tabla player and percussionist Ravi Naimpally is trained in Hindustani classical music and other world music traditions, but has also been featured in jazz groups.

They've been together as So Long Seven (formerly Oolong 7) for three years and recently released a debut CD.

It was a perfect summer evening for their free, outdoor show in Aylmer, and they drew a large crowd ranging from toddlers to seniors, almost filling the park. And appreciative, too – intently listening throughout.

“Torch River Rail Company”, their first song, exemplified their sound: a melodic ballad with intertwining lines on guitar, violin, and banjo, and propelled along by the insistent rhythm of the tablas. It was a style that instantly caught my attention – and kept it. Like most of their pieces, it was an instrumental.

I particularly liked Naimpally's “Aarti”, a fast, dancing, fun mixture of textures; Posgate's “Miles from Appalachia”, with blues and bluegrass accents and featuring a finely-attuned guitar solo with light harmonics; and Hendry's “Banjo Tequila”, which matched hard-edged banjo riffs against earthy tabla rhythms and a mournful violin melody.

Read more: A standing ovation for So Long Seven's mélange of rhythms and influences


A show of thanks: Mike Rud honours jazz guitarist George Benson this weekend

Updated July 27 to include Thursday show in Montreal.

Montreal jazz guitarist and Juno-winning composer Mike Rud is a frequent visitor to Ottawa, most recently this month for a sold-out duo gig with Peter Bernstein. He's back this weekend for two nights at the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata and a Sunday afternoon gig at the Record Centre, paying tribute to best-selling guitarist George Benson.

Mike Rud will pay tribute to George Benson, a jazz guitarist who profoundly affected his playing, at Brookstreet and at The Record Centre this weekend. ©Brett Delmage 2012While Benson is best known for his Grammy-winning song, “On Broadway”, he's had a long jazz career, playing with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, and Freddie Hubbard, and winning 10 Grammys for albums spanning jazz, pop, and R&B. He performed at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2010.

The shows are part of drummer Michel Delage's continuing monthly tribute series at Brookstreet, and Rud will be playing with Delage and bassist Alex Bilodeau. But the choice of George Benson was all Rud's. editor Alayne McGregor talked with Mike Rud about the shows, and his love of George Benson's music, earlier this month. This is an edited version of the interview. Why did you suggest doing a tribute to George Benson?

Mike Rud: Because, if I think of a particular artist whose artist I'm familiar enough with to feel like I've done a good review before going ahead – it would probably be Benson. There would only be two or three guys that I'd really feel that I'd listened to their whole catalogue, and Benson's certainly one of them. When did you first hear him?

Rud: I had a guitar teacher when I was in high school named Brian Hughes, who's an adult contemporary jazz guitar star. He lives in California now. And it was Brian who turned me on to George Benson. Brian used to play a couple of tunes from Benson's catalogue in his show, and he gave me the source recordings. He said, 'Well, if you like that, you should listen to this record.' I got them, and I just couldn't believe it!

Read more: A show of thanks: Mike Rud honours jazz guitarist George Benson this weekend


Chamberfest: A jarring juxtaposition of jazz and classical

Da Costa and Wood
Ottawa Chamberfest, Chamberfringe series
La Nouvelle Scène
Saturday, July 23, 2016 – 10 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Violinist Alexandre Da Costa described the music as a 'classic-jazz fusion. I can't really say what it is for sure' ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Pianist and modern composer Claude Bolling wrote a whole series of suites for classical instruments – flute, cello, guitar, and violin – teamed up with a jazz piano trio. His Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio, written in 1977, was the third in this series, a commission from violinist (and former National Arts Centre music director) Pinchas Zukerman.

Alexandre da Costa, a Juno-winning classical violinist from Montreal, decided to revive the composition for a concert at Chamberfest, appropriately placed in the festival's late-night, and edgier, Chamberfringe series. The suite was is billed as a crossover between classical and jazz – but to my mind, it was more of a wrestling match, where the jazz definitely had the edge.

This was not because of any lack of skill or commitment on da Costa's part, but rather from a compositional design that didn't always gel.

Besides da Costa, the concert featured two well-known Montreal jazz musicians, Dave Laing on drums and Alec Walkington on double bass, and Australian jazz pianist Graham Wood. Da Costa is now Head of Strings at the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, where Wood is Dean of Teaching and Learning. Wood performs with a wide range of Australian jazz musicians in Perth as well as American imports like Joel Frahm and George Garzone.

Read more: Chamberfest: A jarring juxtaposition of jazz and classical


The Doug Martin Quartet gives a vibrant release to their 'Spirit of Survival' CD

The Doug Martin Quartet Spirit of Survival CD Release  (night 2)
Options Jazz Lounge, Brookstreet Hotel
Saturday, July 9, 2016 – 8 p.m.

Bassist Tom McMahon enjoys a special moment in Doug Martin's 'Spirit of Survival' CD release at Options Jazz Lounge  ©Brett Delmage, 2016

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Ottawa saxophonist Doug Martin has based his new album, Spirit of Survival, on his perceptions of Cuba's people, history, and culture, as he has encountered them on his travels there. On July 8 and 9, he brought the music back home for a two-night stand at Brookstreet Options Jazz Lounge.

Playing with Ian Card on piano, Tom McMahon on bass, and Tom Denison on drums on the Saturday, he opened with the CD's vibrant and memorable title track. The group then combined originals with upbeat standards, for a fast-paced show.

Highlights of the four sets included the full-bodied and rhythmic “On The Malecón”, and the deeply lovely and elegiac “Tainos' Lament” (both from the new album), as well as a never-recorded original, “First Steps”, with its punctuated and swinging vibe.

Read more: The Doug Martin Quartet gives a vibrant release to their 'Spirit of Survival' CD


Jesse Stewart, David Mott & Ernst Reijseger share a passion for invention & improvisation

Jesse Stewart ©Brett Delmage, 2011David Mott ©Brett Delmage, 2013Ernst Reijseger ©Brett Delmage, 2014
(l-r) Jesse Sterwart, David Mott, and Ernst Reijseger
share a common passion for making music
in the moment   photos ©Brett Delmage

When Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger, Toronto baritone saxophonist David Mott, and Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart first played together in Toronto in 2014, it was a memorable concert.

“He's a showman,” Stewart recalls. “The concert we did in Toronto, it was actually at David's karate dojo. Towards the end of the concert we knew this was going to be the last piece and Ernst stood up and was playing while he was walking.

“And he left the room, and he was still playing! He was in another room where there was all David's martial arts equipment and while he was still playing cello and walking, he started knocking stuff over with his foot. We could hardly play because we were laughing so hard. It was so, so funny! But, yes, he's a showman, that's for sure. But also incredibly musical and just a wonderful improviser.”

More about Ernst Reijseger
• Ernst Reijseger takes risks to create unpredictable music
• Ernst Reijseger at Chamberfest: reinventing how audiences see and hear the cello

The three will reunite in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 26, for a late-night Chamberfringe concert. It's one of several concerts which Reijseger is performing at the 2016 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, but, unlike the others, this concert will be leaning much more in the direction of free jazz.

Read more: Jesse Stewart, David Mott & Ernst Reijseger share a passion for invention & improvisation


Ernst Reijseger at Chamberfest: reinventing how audiences see and hear the cello

Cellist Ernst Reijseger has a constant passion for music and for musical invention (seen here with vocalist Mola Sylla at the 2014 Guelph Jazz Festival) ©2014 Brett DelmageErnst Reijseger was exhausted.

The celebrated Dutch cellist and composer had just finished two back-to-back recording sessions for film soundtracks, one for Werner Herzog's latest documentary and the other for an American feature film, when interviewed him on July 15.

More about Ernst Reijseger
Ernst Reijseger takes risks to create unpredictable music
Jesse Stewart, David Mott & Ernst Reijseger share a passion for invention & improvisation

But one thing did energize him – the thought of just playing, in a series of concerts at the 2016 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival from July 23 to 26.

“Just taking my cello and playing – I'm really looking forward to that.”

This week, he's in Ottawa for the very first time, playing four concerts (two free, two ticketed) at the festival. They'll range from a short introductory concert and interview, to a solo show for children, to a celebration of the cello with 11 other cellists, to completely free improvised jazz. But all of them will be informed by Reijseger's iconoclastic approach to the cello and the different sounds he creates with it.

Read more: Ernst Reijseger at Chamberfest: reinventing how audiences see and hear the cello


Will Halifax Jazz Festival's Heather Gibson put jazz on NAC stages as the new NAC Presents producer?

Heather Gibson, the newly appointed producer of NAC Presents and the current executive director of the Halifax Jazz Festival, has a greater familiarity with jazz than her predecessor. But it's unclear if she has the mandate and will take the opportunity to present jazz on Canada's National Arts Centre (NAC) stages which will represent the breadth and quality of Canadian jazz musicians.

Will the appointment of Halifax Jazz Festival's Heather Gibson as the Producer of NAC Presents lead to more real jazz on NAC stages this season? ©Brett Delmage, 2016Citing her extensive and relevant experience, the NAC enthusiastically announced her appointment today. "We are so fortunate to be welcoming Heather Gibson to the National Arts Centre where she will help us deepen our relationship with Canada’s best singer-songwriters,” said Peter Herrndorf, the President and CEO of the National Arts Centre.

Gibson takes her post on September 20, in advance of the formal October 13 launch of NAC Presents.

The series is the only NAC series which can present jazz at the NAC, although a few jazz performances were part of the Orchestra's performances in recent years. NAC Presents announced the first half of its 2016-17 season in May, with relatively few jazz-related performances. More concerts will be announced in October. Based on previous years, the 31 shows listed on July 20 are half of a normal 60-show series.

This fall at the NAC, listeners will be able to hear hear Diana Krall, and a young jazz trio from Montreal, and the return of Petr Cancura's Crossroads series – plus several other jazz crossover shows. But the scheduled concerts nowhere near reflect the diversity of jazz in Canada, both in styles and where musicians are from, or its quality and popularity – or what listeners just heard at Gibson's own Halifax Jazz Festival.

Read more: Will Halifax Jazz Festival's Heather Gibson put jazz on NAC stages as the new NAC Presents producer?


Oliver Jones takes on new challenges in his farewell tour

Canadian jazz pianist Oliver Jones – now 81 years old – is on a extended farewell tour, which is taking him across Canada and into Europe and the Caribbean. He sold out the National Arts Centre Theatre in May, and is back in Ottawa tonight for a concert with a quite different repertoire.

Oliver Jones receives a standing ovation before his concert starts, at the  National Arts Centre in May 2016 ©Brett Delmage, 2016It's part of the Music & Beyond chamber music festival, and appropriately enough, it will demonstrate his classical music origins and his continuing interest in composers which include Bach and Chopin, but not in a standard classical style. He'll also pay tribute to his friend and mentor, Oscar Peterson, in the second half of the show, joined by his long-time trio-mates Éric Lagacé on bass and Jim Doxas on drums.

This afternoon, editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Jones about his tour, his future plans, and how he keeps challenging himself on this tour with different repertoire. I'd like to start by asking you how your farewell tour has been going.

Oliver Jones: So far everything's been excellent. Ten out of the eleven places have been sold out, so we're kind of happy about that. But it's a lot of traveling and going from way out west up to the Yukon and then back down to Toronto and then back up to Edmonton and Victoria and Vancouver. So It's been hectic, as far as that's concerned, but it's been very, very rewarding. What kind of response have you been getting from the audiences?

Read more: Oliver Jones takes on new challenges in his farewell tour


Doug Martin revisits Cuba in music in his new CD, Spirit of Survival

Ottawa saxophonist and composer Doug Martin was deeply impressed with Cuba and its remarkable people on the two trips he's taken there – so much so that he's releasing a CD inspired by them.

Spirit of Survival CD cover

Called Spirit of Survival, the CD will be officially released this Friday and Saturday night, when Martin's quartet performs at the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.

But Martin emphasizes that the music he's written for the CD is not Cuban in style. Like his previous CD, Odyssey [2011], it's based on his experiences rather than directly reflecting the music he heard there.

“I wrote music as I would write it, not as a Cuban would write it.”

The music was based on “my own feelings and my own impressions of places and people,” he said – inspired by everything from Cuba's troubled history, to locations in Havana, to his favourite Cuban liqueur. The front cover illustration is based on a photo Martin took of the Havana skyline.

After his first trip to Cuba in October, 2012, Martin wrote the CD's title track, “Spirit of Survival”, based on the people he met.

The song is “very happy and upbeat”, he said, because it reflects the attitudes of Cuban people, “their approach to life. They live in a situation which is less than ideal, of course, and in spite of that, they have this approach to life which I find a bit remarkable.”

Read more: Doug Martin revisits Cuba in music in his new CD, Spirit of Survival


Take a Jazz Stay-cation: Ottawa jazz highlights in July

Updated July 13, 2016
July is a great time for jazz stay-cation in Ottawa. On this month are five local music festivals which include at least some jazz shows, a local jazz CD release, and jazz concerts and club shows all over town.

Lorraine Desmarais will be featured in the Festival de Jazz Desjardins at the end of July. ©Brett Delmage, 2012Appearing in July are seasoned jazz pianist Tommy Banks, jive musician Joe Jackson, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, pianist Oliver Jones, drummer Tim Shia, saxophonist Petr Cancura with two Brooklyn musicians, Dutch improvising cellist Ernst Reijseger, percussionist Jesse Stewart, baritone saxophonist David Mott, drummer Dafnis Prieto, guitarist Kevin Breit, saxophonist Jane Bunnett with her Cuban-based group Maqueque, guitarist Mike Rud, violinist Drew Jurecka, clarinetist James Campbell, bassist Dave Young, pianist Gene DiNovi, vocalist Terez Montcalm with pianist Lorraine Desmarais – and a saxophone quartet with the delightful name of Syrène Saxofoonkwartet.

Sign up to our JazzScene newsletter to get a full listing of all the jazz and improvised music events within 100 km of Parliament Hill in your inbox every week. You can also check our list of Ottawa-Gatineau-area jazz clubs, and our daily On The Scene listing on our website's front page (and in your RSS feed) to learn more about what's going on in jazz locally right now.

The month opens with the final three days of the Ottawa Jazz Festival (read the full schedule). Then in short order follow four more festivals: Music & Beyond, Bluesfest, Chamberfest, and Le Festival de Jazz Desjardins. First up are Music & Beyond (for classical music) and the Ottawa Bluesfest (for everything else).

Music & Beyond has often showcased jazz musicians who also have a classical side. This year, it has two – both of whom started playing before many of's readers were born.

Tuesday, July 5: the 79-year-old pianist Tommy Banks will appear with trumpeter Jens Lindemann at Dominion Chalmers United Church. In the first set, they'll perform both classical pieces and compositions by Duke Ellington and Jerome Kern, with the NAC Orchestra. In the second set, Banks and Lindemann will join up with well-known Montreal jazz musicians bassist Éric Lagacé and drummer Dave Laing to perform a tribute to Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.'s  July jazz highlights are brought to you by Barry Cooper, GigSpace, Adrian Matte, James McGowan, Alexander Mommers, Debbie Reinhart, Marcia Rodriguez, Bernard Stepien, and John Upper. We greatly appreciate their financial support that helps to continue serving the jazz community every day of the year.

Read more: Take a Jazz Stay-cation: Ottawa jazz highlights in July


Classical and jazz dance together at the 2016 Ottawa Chamberfest

This article was substantially updated from the first version released April 6, 2016, to reflect further concerts added to the festival.

The Ottawa Chamber Music Festival will showcase Cuban and avant-garde jazz in its 2016 edition, with performances by Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, renowned Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, guitarist Kevin Breit, violinist Drew Jurecka, and cellist Ernst Reijseger – plus a tribute to Duke Ellington.

Jane Bunnett (l) and Maqueque are back in Ottawa in July after two years of steady touring, performing at the 2016 Ottawa Chamberfest ©2014 Brett DelmageThe festival, which will run from July 21 to August 3, 2016, is again complementing its core classical offerings with late-night jazz and improvised music – even combining them in some cases.

Chamberfest will offer its late-night concerts at the recently-reopened La Nouvelle Scène on King Edward Avenue in Lowertown, with that location replacing St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts.

Highlights include:

Saturday, July 23: The Syrène Saxofoonkwartet consists of four women saxophonists from the Netherlands, playing soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone sax. The previous day, they are scheduled to play a classical show, but on Saturday, their repertoire for their free outdoor show in the National Gallery Amphitheatre is ragtime and jazz. At 1 p.m., they'll open with Leonard Bernstein's “Overture to Candide”, and then move to classic rags like “The Maple Leaf Rag” and “Kitten on the Keys”, before ending with George Gershwin's “An American in Paris”.

Saturday, July 23: wunderkind Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger is a featured artist this year at Chamberfest, playing classical music, freely improvised music, and his own compositions. He'll be introduced to the festival at a short, free snapshot concert at 5:45 p.m. at Dominion Chalmers United Church. [Read our interview with Reijseger.]

Saturday, July 23: Jazz composer Claude Bolling mixes “Baroque elegance with modern technique” in his Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio. The eight movements are based on mostly classical dance forms, with mainstream jazz segments (and a few vintage ones) inserted around and under the violin soloist – and with the rhythm section propelling each movement and adding lots of swing. This performance at La Nouvelle Scène features Alexandre DaCosta on violin and Graham Wood on jazz piano, along with Éric Lagacé on double-bass (seen here with Oliver Jones) and Dave Laing (Christine Jensen's drummer) on percussion. The second half of the concert will include pieces by Dizzy Gillespie, Michel Legrand, and Lennon & McCartney.

Read more: Classical and jazz dance together at the 2016 Ottawa Chamberfest


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