Sunday, June 25, 2017
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July – a month of festivals with jazz in Ottawa-Gatineau

The month of July is one festival after another – including interesting jazz for all tastes.

With the Ottawa Jazz Festival just finished, listeners can continue to discover more jazz to enjoy at Music & Beyond, Bluesfest, Chamberfest, and the Festival de Jazz Desjardins.

Toronto saxophonist Kirk MacDonald will play a duo concert with guitarist Lorne Lofsky on July 18 ©Brett Delmage, 2013Plus, of course, many individual concerts and shows: including a CD release, a tribute to Herbie Hancock and another to Etta James, a rare visit by Toronto jazz masters Kirk MacDonald and Lorne Lofsky, and a four-guitar evening.

Music and Beyond has a primarily chamber music focus, but two of its concerts will include well-known jazz musicians. Its opening gala on July 4 features local jazz stalwarts John Geggie, Mark Ferguson, and Jeff Asselin, and its program includes pieces by George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.

Then, on Monday, July 13, Toronto saxophonist Mike Murley will repeat his collaboration with Ottawa's Thirteen Strings – in a classical vein. They played together here in January (and Murley again in May, as part of Ontario Scene), and for this concert will perform the premiere of “The Delight of Paradise”, a new multi-movement work based on a text from the Odes of Solomon.


You can find a few jazz gems in among the rock acts at Bluesfest. On July 9, Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All Stars will bring a wide selection of Afro-Cuban styles – including bolero, chachachá, salsa, son montuno, timba, guajira, danzón, rumba and abakua – and fine Cuban musicians to heat up the night on the festival's Monster Energy stage.

On July 10, you can hear hometown favourites The Souljazz Orchestra, who will release a new album this fall, combine Funk, Soul, Jazz, Afrobeat, African and Latin styles. On July 17, the Jivewires, who have one of the liveliest horn and rhythm sections in town, will be guaranteed to get people dancing to their jumpin' jive classics and originals.

You can also hear several shows at Bluesfest featuring local jazz artists playing other types of music: Slim Moore and the New Soul Project (July 10), Bosveld (July 12), The Lucas Haneman Express (July 14), and Renée Landry (July 19).


Ernst Reijseger balances his cello on one finger at the 2014 Guelph Jazz Festival. ©Brett Delmage, 2014We previously informed you about Chamberfest's diverse line-up this year, but the artists you really might not want to miss this month include:

  • July 25: wild-man Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger, with percussionist Jesse Stewart and baritone saxophonist David Mott,
  • July 24-25: Toronto jazz violinist/saxophonist/vocalist Drew Jurecka, with bassist Dave Young and pianist Mark Kieswetter,
  • July 25-26: Montreal’s Christine Tassan et les Imposteures evoking the Hot Club of France
  • July 26: Clarinetists James Campbell and Bob DeAngelis paying tribute to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.
  • July 27: Toronto jazz pianist David Braid in concert with the Sinfonia UK Chamber Orchestra, performing several compositions he showcased at his NAC concert in March, including “Chauvet” and “Spirit Dance”, but also adding new material.
  • July 31-August 1: free roving concerts in downtown Ottawa by The Boxcar Boys playing old-style jazz and folk

Aylmer's Festival de Jazz Desjardins

You have four chances this month to hear Alex Moxon (l) and Ed Lister (r) of the Chocolate Hot Pockets. ©Brett Delmage, 2015Every year at the end of July you can hear some fine Ontario and Québeçois jazz and world music outdoors in Parc de L'Imaginaire, next to the Aylmer Marina in Gatineau. As we told you earlier, it's a younger group of musicians this year, but with excellent credentials and a track record of pleasing Ottawa audiences. Three groups are from Montreal – The Jazz Street Boyz (July 29), Emie R Roussel Trio (July 30), and Trio Jérôme Beaulieu (July 31) – and the Chocolate Hot Pockets (August 1) are from Ottawa.

On Wednesdays during July, you can also hear three more world/jazz/hip-hop artists in the park: Afro-Peruvian/jazz vocalist Patricia Cano (July 8), Senegalese percussionist Elage Mbaye (July 15), and Haitian-Canadian hip-hop vocalist Vox Sambou (July 22).

In other area festivals, the Miguel de Armas Latin Jazz Quartet, with Cuban vocalist Caridad Cruz, violinist Roberto Jerez, and the Four Seasons Studio Dancers, will perform at the Cuban-Canadian Friendship Festival in Spencerville, Ontario on July 16.

Pianist Peter Brown will bring his quartet and their love of jazz standards to the Stewart Park Festival in Perth on July 19. The quartet will be joined by jazz violinist John Richard. Later that afternoon, The Boxcar Boys will also perform at that festival.

But there's lots more

Jesse Stewart will release a solo CD of just waterphone music on July 3. ©Brett Delmage, 2011Ottawa percussionist/composer Jesse Stewart is one of the few artists anywhere who has fully explored the sonic capabilities of the waterphone, an instrument better known for creating sound effects in films. But in Stewart's hands, it produces haunting, beautiful melodies – as well as echoing drumming sounds and unexpected high-pitched notes. He has several waterphones, differently pitched, and sometimes alternates between them.

On Friday, July 3, Stewart will release Xenophora, his new solo CD of just waterphone music. It will be part of a three-artist opening, entitled “You Maniacs! You Blew It Up”, at PDA Projects at 361 Elgin Street. Stewart will play a short, free concert on the waterphone at about 6 p.m.

On July 9, Stewart will continue his summer-long residency at the Diefenbunker, a former Cold-War nuclear bunker turned museum, with the opening of his visual art exhibit inspired by the museum: "Geometries and Auralities of Survival." To mark the opening, he will perform a solo percussion performance in the bunker's cafeteria – playing pots and pans and cafeteria dishes. Space is limited so reservations are required by contacting This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

On July 3, Kingston singer Georgette Fry will pay tribute to blues/jazz singer Etta James at the Shenkman Arts Centre, backed up by a 12-piece band, with lots of trumpet and saxophone, and the 50-piece Ottawa chapter of the Shout Sister! Choir. This is the first time this show has been performed in Ottawa.

Since the spring, drummer Michel Delage has paid tribute to renowned jazz composers in monthly shows at the Brookstreet Hotel's Options Jazz Lounge. The newest installment, on July 10 and 11, features Toronto saxophonist Allison Au and pianist Todd Pentney – paying tribute to legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock. The series will skip August, and return on September 25.

Michel Delage at the April tribute concert at Brookstreet ©2015 Brett DelmageThe very first show in Delage's series paid tribute to saxophonist Wayne Shorter. If you missed that show in March, you can hear the same group again at The Record Centre on Wellington Street West, in a concert by donation on the afternoon of July 5. Vince Rimbach, Alex Moxon, Dave Schroeder, and Delage will again explore Shorter's unforgettable 50s and 60s compositions.

On July 7 there will be another tribute concert. Drummer Andrew Kushnir (who was seen sitting in on drums at this year's jazzfest late-night jams) will perform the music of pianist Thelonious Monk, in a trio concert with bassist Martin Newman and saxophonist Adrian Matte. The show at Pressed will also feature an opening set by local saxophonist Claire Devlin – home from studying at McGill – and her quartet, including Deniz Lim-Sersan, back from studying at Humber College.

In fact, this month gives listeners a chance to hear several young jazz musicians who have gone away to Toronto and Montreal to study. On July 14, guitarist Rob Wannell will perform in a trio with bassist Ben Heard and drummer Keagan Eskritt at Pressed. It's a double concert: the first half will feature two Ottawa jazz veterans – guitarist Garry Elliott and drummer Mike Essoudry – together with Heard on bass, followed by the younger trio in the second half.

On July 30, alto saxophonist Sam Cousineau – currently studying at McGill – will team up with Essoudry and Heard for a concert at the Avant-Garde. Expect emphatic, swinging jazz.

Linsey Wellman listens to Ken Aldcroft at Pressed ©Brett Delmage, 2013Several well-known Toronto musicians will also be visiting. On July 10, Toronto improvising guitarist and composer Ken Aldcroft will appear with saxophonist Jason Robinson at the Raw Sugar Cafe: expect the avant-garde. Local reed player and Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) organizer Linsey Wellman will play a solo opening set. IMOO is taking a vacation over the summer, but perhaps this show will fill that space.

On July 18, Juno-winning Toronto saxophonist and composer Kirk MacDonald will appear with veteran Toronto guitarist Lorne Lofsky for a duo show at Zolas in Bells Corners. Expect mainstream jazz performed with lots of nuance and energy.

On July 17, the Chocolate Hot Pockets will play their high-energy jazz, funk, and neo-soul at the new venue Live! on Elgin, the first of several shows they'll play this month following the launch of their new CD. They'll also perform at Irene's on July 12, and close out the Nachtmusik series at Das Lokal in the Market on July 26.

On July 18, vocalist Caroline Cook will present “The Hazy Days of Summer” at GigSpace. With her quartet of local jazz musicians, she'll sing a mixture of blues, Latin, and a few extras.

On July 24-25, the young Montreal-based quintet Nomad, with Simon Millerd on trumpet, Ted Crosby on tenor sax, Jake Weins on guitar, Ben Dwyer on bass, and Afolabi Fapojuwo on drums, will appear at Brookstreet. They tell us they “draw from a diverse repertoire of jazz standards and original compositions.”

The Santé Restaurant will present one Wednesday evening show this month, on July 29. Guitarist Tim Bedner will perform with three up-and-coming young local guitarists whom he taught at Carleton University: Nathan Corr, Justin Duhaime, and Julien Cloutier Repentigny.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival may be over, but jazz isn't. Just consider the jazzfest your springboard into a whole summer of jazz, at festivals and at local clubs.

    – Alayne McGregor