Providing as much variety in venue as the people who play in them, the Ottawa Jazz Festival jams have moved to yet another location this year: the Marriott Hotel's Spin Kitchen and Bar.
The 2015 jam location is at the northwest corner of Kent and Queen streets, four blocks west of Confederation Park and the NAC. It is one-half block closer than the 2008-10 jam sessions in the Delta Hotel.
Complementing the new location, five different variations of the house band will host this year's jams, providing even more variety for regular jam listeners beyond the guest musicians who are expected to show up to jam. The musicians in the band will be mostly familiar to jazzfest jam regulars and people who enjoy live jazz all year long. John Geggie, who has led the jam's house band for 11 of the past 14 years, will be there for the entire run. Geggie has a demonstrated track record of attracting a wide range of musicians to participate in the jams, from high-profile festival headliners to talented members of the youth summit.
The jazz festival jams have been an essential part of the jazz festival since it started. Musicians and listeners vocally objected when the Ottawa Jazz Festival threatened their cancellation in 2013.
The 2015 Ottawa Jazz Festival jams run for the duration of the festival: June 19 to 30. They will be hosted by:
- Friday June 19 to Tuesday June 23: jam veterans Roddy Ellias (guitar), Nick Fraser (drums) and John Geggie (double bass) will be the house band.
(After June 23, Ellias is touring to other jazz festivals with his trio.)
- Wednesday June 24, Thursday June 25: Mark Ferguson (piano, trombone), who also hosted the festival jams for several years, Nick Fraser, John Geggie.
- Friday June 26: Scott Latham (drums), Mark Ferguson, John Geggie
- Saturday June 27: Steve Boudreau (piano), Scott Latham, John Geggie
- Sunday June 28: Ben Monder, Steve Boudreau, Michel Delage (drums), John Geggie
- Monday June 29, Tuesday June 30: Steve Boudreau, Michel Delage, John Geggie
Although the Spin Kitchen and Bar's name might suggest it is the former revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel, it is firmly planted on the ground floor of the Marriott. Located adjacent to the hotel entrance and lobby, it seats up to 140, in a narrow space that runs the length of the hotel along Queen Street.
Planned stage location may mean not everyone can see the musicians
The stage will be in a far corner at one end of the long bar. “The jazz people think it's going to work.” Markus Fisher, the Mariott Hotel Director of Sales and Marketing said.
“Because [the stage] needs to stay static because they can't be breaking it down, it's going to be positioned in the back of the room, at the corner of Kent and Queen,” he said.
“There will be ample spots for people who want to be close, and then there will be, from the atmosphere standpoint, in the bar area you'll still have a sight line to them. You won't necessarily be right in front of them.”
It remains to be heard what the acoustics will be like, with floor-to-ceiling windows covering more than half of the bar's circumference, including behind and beside the stage.
An outside patio is directly accessible. Keen listeners and musicians simply trying to hear each other play will undoubtedly be hoping that active conversationalists will take advantage of it, or at least sit at the far end of the long bar.
Admission to the jam will be free to everyone as it also was in 2013 and 2014, Fisher confirmed. A festival pass will not be required for access.
Jam fans who want to plan their beer budget can get an early start: Spin's menu and prices are listed on its website. Special drink (beer and wine) and appetizer selections are expected to be available for $6 each during the jams.
– Brett Delmage
All photos ©Brett Delmage, 2015
Other stories about the Ottawa Jazz Festival jams
- Jazz Festival jams at new Albion Rooms treat listeners to fine musical moments 
- Listeners follow Ottawa Jazz Festival jams westward to AlphaSoul Cafe 
- 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival jams move 3.5 km west to Hintonburg
- No Ottawa Jazz Festival jam sessions in 2013? Listeners object.
- 2011 Ottawa Jazz Festival Jam sessions move 4 blocks closer
- 2010 Jazz Festival Countdown: The joy of jams with John Geggie
- Michel Delage tries new combinations in his Brookstreet tribute series 
Updated June 9, 2015: Added Ben Monder