Monday, December 05, 2016
   
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Ranee Lee shares a generous performance with enthusiastic listeners

Bassist Dave Watts, drummer Dave Laing, vocalist Ranee Lee, and guitarist Richard Ring have performed together for years and it showed in their fine delivery of everything from upbeat jazz classics to heartfelt ballads In Ottawa on Friday. ©2016 Brett Delmage

Ranee Lee doesn't just sing: her voice is a flexible instrument that can softly caress a lyric – or jump, growl, and bop the night away. In a 2¼-hour high-energy show at Shenkman Arts Centre on Friday night, she and her quintet moved from jazz standards to pop ballads to lesser-known gems, and gave each song an arrangement and the attention which allowed it to shine. The 250-strong audience responded with enthusiastic applause throughout and two standing ovations.

Read the full review on OttawaJazzScene.ca on Monday. Read our interview with Ranee Lee

 

Jazz vocalist Ranee Lee has flourished in Canada

More than 45 years ago, Ranee Lee chose Canada for love – and she's never regretted it.

Ranee Lee (photo by Pierre Arsenault)The award-winning Montreal jazz vocalist will make a rare appearance in Ottawa on Friday at the Shenkman Arts Centre, performing music from her latest CD with an all-Canadian band, including a string quartet. And when OttawaJazzScene.ca spoke to her on Monday, she praised the many Canadians who contributed to that CD and to her career as a whole.

Canada has given her “every opportunity”, Lee said. “It's given me my life.”

“I don't like the attitude of small fish, big fish. I don't like that attitude, because I believe we all have to swim accordingly. I feel that the opportunities to raise a family, to be diverse enough to act, to sing, to dance, to play instruments – all of which was afforded me this opportunity through having my roots planted in Canada now.”

“I've toured most of the world as a Canadian ambassador, representing our art form in many countries. Just two months ago, we were in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a jazz festival there. So my Canadian roots have reached far and wide. And due to that, and the fact that I have a long history with McGill University as a vocal teacher there, I was given the Order of Canada. And you can't live anywhere else and get that!”

“So I believe that by fortune of birth I was given the opportunity to be born in the United States, which I don't regret. I had a wonderful childhood and a great family, and still do, and I got to see the best that the world could offer me, the best career that I could ever choose for myself.”

Lee has had a highly successful career as a musician, musical theatre performer, actress, and educator. She has released 12 jazz albums for the Canadian label Justin Time, and won a Juno for best vocal jazz album in 2010. In 2006, her joint album with pianist Oliver Jones was named Album of the Year at the National Jazz Awards. She was awarded a Dora Mavor Moore award for her performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and produced and starred in the musical Dark Divas about the lives of seven renowned female jazz vocalists. She was named to the Order of Canada in 2006.

Read more: Jazz vocalist Ranee Lee has flourished in Canada

 

Escape the Christmas carols with jazz in December

You don't have to be stuck in a Christmas carol jail this month. There's lots of non-seasonal jazz to keep you happy.

Daniel Ko is featured in Record Runner Rehearsal Studio's first concert on Dec 2. ©Brett Delmage, 2012From big bands to jazz vocals, from creative exploration to jazz influenced by Gershwin or Shostakovich, there's a variety of interesting music available in December in Ottawa-Gatineau – as well as Christmas cheer!

The month opens with a holiday classic, with the Jerry Granelli Trio performing their annual Tales of a Charlie Brown Christmas at Dominion Chalmers United Church. Drummer Granelli is the only remaining musician who played on that iconic recording of Vince Guaraldi's music, and he's teamed up with two Canadian musicians – Chris Gestrin on piano and Simon Fisk on bass – to recreate it, this year with the The Cross Town Youth Chorus providing the vocals. You want comfort music – you've got it!

Also on December 1: the local jazz band Stay Tuned plays “accessible jazz” to raise money for refugees at a show at the Sheba's Cove restaurant in Westboro. There's no cover or minimum, but donations to assist refugees getting settled here in Ottawa will be welcomed. Or, if you like swinging across the dance floor, the Starlighters big band will be playing a Christmas-themed dance at the Ron Kolbus Centre on December 1.

Read more: Escape the Christmas carols with jazz in December

 

“Don't waste your notes”: an interview with Dong-Won Kim

Dong-Won Kim is a master percussionist from South Korea. He has studied various forms of traditional Korean percussion music for three decades, including farmer’s drumming and dance, shamanic music, and Pansori accompaniment, and has performed throughout Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, and many other countries. He's also a member of cellist Yo Yo Ma's multi-national Silk Road Project.

Korean percussioniust Dong-Won Kim  ©2014 Brett DelmageHis instruments include the jang-go, an hourglass-shaped drum with hide-covered ends; the buk, a round leather barrel drum; and bronze gongs.

But he's gone beyond that tradition – creating new possibilities in jazz and creative improvised music. And that's the type of music he'll be playing on Friday with GigSpace in two duo concerts with Juno Award-winning percussionist Jesse Stewart.

Kim created a notable stir with his inventive performances in several appearances at the Guelph Jazz Festival. He has played and recorded with Stewart both in Guelph and in Ottawa.

He's been living in Ottawa since mid-September, working as Carleton University's musical artist-in-residence for the fall term. He's taught weekly lessons in Korean rhythms, but also lectured on the theory and practice of improvisation and musical performance. His lecture topics have included “Rhythm for Designing Space”, “Composition in Improvisation”, and “Movement in Sound, Sound in Movement”.

OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Kim on Monday about Friday's concert, what he's been teaching at Carleton, and how he approaches music – but also about his experiences as a political prisoner in Korea in the 1980s, and how that solidified his determination to become a musician. This is an edited version of our conversation.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: What's it been like being in Ottawa?

Dong-Won Kim: Good! I'm very much enjoying being here in Ottawa. I really enjoy it. It's been a little longer than two months so far, and one more month to go.

OttawaJazzScene.ca: How did you first start studying traditional Korean percussion music?

Read more: “Don't waste your notes”: an interview with Dong-Won Kim

 

Safe Low Limit: creative, new low blows and bows (video)

Safe Low Limits's Steve Berndt and Keith Walton    ©2016 Brett DelmageSafe Low Limit presented its music, which extends far into the bass clef, to appreciative listeners at Le Petit Chicago on Monday nights in November. This was their first public performance as a quartet.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's Inside the Scene interviewed all four members of the group: Steve Berndt (trombone and vocals), Ken Kanwisher (cello). Dr. Keith Walton (tuba), and Michel Delage (drums). All four enthusiastically shared their motivations for participating in this project, the challenges and pleasure of making this music, and what a Doctorate  in tuba is all about (fascinating!) on-camera.

Our story also features excerpts from their performance of Steve Bendt's composition, Safe Low Limit.

– Brett Delmage

Related: Safe Low Limit digs deep for Jazz Mondays in November

Watch the Inside the Scene video story

 

"Canada Scene" 2017 launches with Robi Botos' jazzy nod to Oscar Peterson

Pianist Robi Botos poses with the statue of Oscar Peterson outside  Canada's National Arts Centre. Botos, a protege of Pederson's, will help celebrate his music and inspiration as part of Canada Scene in 2017 ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Canada's National Arts Centre (NAC) announced its 2017 Canada Scene festival today, including a major tribute to Oscar Peterson with pianists Robi Botos, Oliver Jones, Jon Kimura Parker, Bill Charlap, Gerald Clayton, Benny Green, and Justin Kauflin.

The Canada Scene festival will run from June 15 to July 30, 2017 – the middle of Canada's 150th birthday year. It will feature artists from across Canada in music , dance, theatre, culinary and visual art, performing at the newly-renovated NAC. It will also be the culmination of seven previous “Scene” festivals at the NAC which celebrated different regions of Canada between 2003 and 2015.

Robi Botos opened the launch event playing a swinging and virtuosic rendition of Peterson's “Blues for Smedley”. He will be one of seven “renowned pianists and close friends of Peterson” included in the July 10 “Oscar, with Love” tribute in Southam Hall – playing on Peterson's own beloved Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano, which will travel to Ottawa for this occasion. The evening will be hosted by Peterson's daughter, Céline.

Fellow Canadians Oliver Jones and Jon Kimura Parker will also perform, along with Americans Bill Charlap, Gerald Clayton, Benny Green, and Justin Kauflin. They will be accompanied by renowned Canadian bassist Dave Young, who played with Peterson for 35 years, in appearances in the Oscar Peterson Trio all over the world up until Peterson’s death in 2007.

Young released an Aspects Of Oscar tribute album with Botos in 2011. In 2012, Young, Botos, and drummer Terry Clarke appeared at a star-studded tribute to Peterson in Ottawa, organized by the German Embassy to celebrate the historical connections between Germany and the Canadian jazz icon.

Botos, Jones, Charlap, Clayton, Green, Kauflin, and Young are also included on the recently-released Oscar with Love CD organized by Peterson's widow, Kelly Peterson, of performances on Peterson's Bösendorfer of never-before-heard Peterson compositions.

Read more and watch our video story about the launch

 

More heartfelt jazz: November 24-30 jazz highlights

Florquestra makes a rare apopearance, in the final weekend of Buckingham Buzz Jazz series on November 25   ©2013 Brett DelmageThere's lots more heartfelt jazz to hear in Ottawa-Gatineau in the final half of November. Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's independent look at what's bright in jazz in a traditionally grey month.

Subscribe to our weekly jazz newsletter for details of these events and more.

On Thursday, November 24, the Quebec chamber jazz group Esmerine make their yearly trek to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. A perennial favourite for both jazz and world music fans, the group is centred on cello and percussion with other instruments like violin adding special touches. Its music incorporates genres such as drone music, post punk, and Turkish folk. Esmerine won an Juno for Instrumental Album for Dalmak [2013].

Also that evening, the Carlos Alberto Santana Jazz Band officially releases its debut CD, Oye Latino, in a show at the Mercury Lounge. You can read about the circuitous path Santana took to releasing this album in the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview.

On Thursday, November 24, saxophonist Petr Cancura begins a new year of his National Arts Centre Crossroads folk/jazz series, the time in the NAC Theatre with local singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. The idea behind the series is that Cancura works with the folk musician to create jazz arrangements of their sonigs; they then perform the arrangements together, along with jazz musicians Roddy Ellias, John Geggie, and Greg Ritchie. OttawaJazzScene.ca reported the first of these collaborations in video, with Ian Tamblyn  [Petr Cancura and Ian Tamblyn combine jazz, folk in satisfying Crossroads concert] and reviewed the second Crossroads show with Lynn Miles. Expect the singer-songwriter ethos to predominate over the jazz arrangements.

Read more: More heartfelt jazz: November 24-30 jazz highlights

 

November 17 to 23 jazz highlights

There's lots more heartfelt jazz to hear in Ottawa-Gatineau in the third week of November. Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's independent look at what's bright in jazz in a traditionally grey month.

Subscribe to our weekly jazz newsletter for details of these events and more.

On Thursday, November 17, Montreal jazz vocalist Karen Young makes a rare local appearance together with long-time musical compatriots guitarist Sylvain Provost and bassist Normand Guilbeault. They'll be performing at La Scène des Galeries Aylmer in Gatineau, showcasing their album You Make me Feel So Young. Expect songs by Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, and Billy Strayhorn, in interpretations full of “groove, swing, and sleek sensuality”.

Student performances start this month, with the Carleton University Jazz Fusion ensemble directed by Wayne Eagles ©Brett Delmage, 2014If you prefer a heavier beat, the Carleton University Jazz Fusion student ensembles, directed by Wayne Eagles, will present their fall recital on November 17, in Kailash Mital Theatre at the university. It will be a joint concert with the West African Rhythm Ensemble, who will be playing with the university's music artist-in-residence Dong-Won Kim.

You have two opportunities to hear the Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt on Friday, November 18. They're touring across Canada in mid-November, playing with different, well-known rhythm sections in each city – in Ottawa with bassist John Geggie and drummer Michel Delage.

In the afternoon, they'll give a masterclass at Carleton University, with Vandoorn presenting material from her book, Singing From the Inside Out. That evening, they'll be at the Mercury Lounge. Winners of the Edison Award (the Dutch equivalent of our Juno), the duo explores both improvisation and lyrical songs, “full of rich harmonies and haunting melodies” and including echoes of the Brazilian choro and Scandinavian pop. Read our interview with Ineke Vandoorn.

Buckingham Buzz Jazz returns on November 18 for its third installment. It opens with Betty Ann Bryanton's Sideways Bend, which played two sold-out and happily-received concerts of uncommon jazz tunes earlier this year [read our review]. They're followed by the Ottawa trio Jazz'n Time, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, performing a mix of standards, contemporary tunes, and originals.

Each year, CBC Radio-Canada chooses a promising young jazz artist from Quebec to promote in its Révélations series, and Montreal pianist Simon Denizart is the 2016-17 winner. He and his trio, with Jeanne Corpataux on bass and Simon Bellemare on drums, release their second CD, Beautiful People, this month. They’ll appear at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge on November 18-19 – just before they play l'Astral in Montreal. Initially influenced by Esbjörn Svensson, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, and Keith Jarrett, the trio primarily now plays Denizart's originals: music that is “soft and melodic while always driving, due to the energy the trio establishes every time they hit the band stand.”

Read more: November 17 to 23 jazz highlights

 

Touring Dutch duo impressed by Canadians' response to jazz

Dutch jazz vocalist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt have developed many ties to Canadians in the last 25 years – starting with composer Kenny Wheeler and more recently with guitarist Michael Occhipinti. The duo is touring across Canada this month, including an Ottawa gig on Friday at the Mercury Lounge.

TDutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt [photo by Jiri Büller]hey'll perform their own thoughtful and multi-layered original music – playing with different rhythm sections in each city – and also promote a book Vandoorn has written on the art of jazz singing from a very practical perspective.

Their first experiences of Canada were when they studied at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 1991 and 1993 – “really a very important thing for us”, Vandoorn said. At Banff, they met renowned Canadian trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler, “and played his music and we started to be friends”.

“It was an honour to work with him. He loved Marc's music and his contributions were spot on. He was a very shy, but also witty man and we laughed a lot.”

Then when they were about to make their first CD, “we asked Kenny if he was interested in being our featured guest at the CD – and he wanted to do that, so that's how we got to know him better. So we played with him several times in the Netherlands.”

“We always kept in contact and Marc and Kenny discussed sometimes each others compositions and arrangements. Very special. He was also very generous and when he had heard us play he called us afterwards to tell us how much he loved it.”

In Banff, Vandoorn also met vocalist Norma Winstone, and “we became friends. At some point I was invited at a festival to do a special project, and I decided to invite her for a vocal duet. We did it twice at different festivals.”

In 2012, Vandoorn and van Vugt released a single, “Holysloot”, an intimate jazz song inspired by a Dutch lowlands winter scene. She agreed it was influenced by Wheeler and Winstone. “The way Kenny is composing and the way that he is treating harmonies I think that is something that both Marc and I like a lot. And I'm sure a fan of Norma's singing. And yes, you could hear that there.”

The duo has toured Canada five times, playing festivals including the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 1998. This will be their first time playing Canadian clubs, however, Vandoorn said. They've spent the last week in southern Ontario, teaching students at masterclasses and clinics (including with Christine Duncan's Element Choir) and playing concerts – and have been very happy with the response.

“I must say that all the Canadian audiences are very receptive for our music. First of all, I think that jazz is quite important in Canada. The people are much more used to listening to jazz, I would say, than maybe in the Netherlands. So we have really nice audiences, very committed. And they really love our music so so far it has been great.”

Read more: Touring Dutch duo impressed by Canadians' response to jazz

 

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