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David Braid, Jill Barber, Mike Rud, and John Geggie featured in NAC concerts in 2015

David Braid ©Brett Delmage, 2014

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 [2013], which is primarily jazz but with a few touches of country.

Last fall, Juno-winning Toronto pianist David Braid played an NAC concert with Phil Nimmons: a completely-improvised show inspired by photographs, which sold out and inspired several standing ovations. On March 14, Braid will appear in a much more controlled setting, with the Penderecki String Quartet. He previously performed with this chamber music group in Waterloo in June, playing his own compositions for Jazz Piano and String Quartet in a “one-of-a-kind crossover performance”.

OttawaJazzScene.ca published an interview last year about another jazz collaboration involving the Penderecki String Quartet: the premiere of percussionist Jesse Stewart's “Gnomon Variations” at the Guelph Jazz Festival.

Montreal pianist Emie R. Roussel has twice (2012 and 2013) been nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award for the best new Canadian jazz group at the Montreal Jazz Festival; the 2013 award jury awarded her a special mention. She also won the People’s Choice award at the 28th annual Festi Jazz International de Rimouski. This year, she is the jazz protégé of Radio-Canada's Révélations program.

She formed her trio, with Nicolas Bédard on double bass and Dominic Cloutier on drums, in 2010. It's released two original albums, Temps inégal (2010) and Transit (2013), playing modern, rhythm-based, and pop-harmony-influenced jazz. On April 10, her trio will play the Fourth Stage.

Ottawa double bassist and composer John Geggie is returning for one Invitational concert (on April 25), as he did in 2014. These concerts, which Geggie started in 2001, have brought together jazz artists from Canada and abroad in new combinations, putting each musician slightly outside his or her comfort zone. For the concerts, each musician contributes compositions, and the group works on them for a day before the concert, perhaps adding a standard or two as well.

His 2014 concert will feature tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson (who has played with everyone on the Toronto scene from The Shuffle Demons to Emilie-Claire Barlow), saxophonist and bass clarinetist Frank Lozano (widely-heard on the Montreal jazz scene, leading his own groups and in groups like the Josh Rager Sextet, Effendi Jazzlab, and the Altsys Jazz Orchestra), and Montreal drummer Jim Doxas (well-known for playing with Oliver Jones, in groups with his brother Chet, and with artists like John Abercrombie, Joe Lovano, Hank Jones, and Maria Schneider.) Geggie played with Jefferson in an Invitational concert in 2011, and frequently performs with Lozano and Doxas.

NAC Presents is again offering eight jazz shows this year, the same as 2013-14. However, the jazz musicians aren't quite as high-profile as last year's Michael Kaeshammer, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Oliver Jones, or Phil Nimmons, and definitely not as well known as the previous season's Diana Krall, Molly Johnson, and Holly Cole. This season listeners will, however, hear more instrumental jazz.

This year's jazz artists are predominantly from Toronto and Montreal, with the exception of Barber, who is from Vancouver

    – Alayne McGregor

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