The Beeched Wailers and their popular Tuesday night jazz jams will resume on September 8 – and they're excited about their new location in Hintonburg.
The band, whose previous location closed with almost no notice after a successful 16-month run, will now be playing at the Wellington Eatery (1008 Wellington Street West [map]). The restaurant is located across the street from the former AlphaSoul Café, which hosted the 2013 Ottawa Jazz festival jams. It's just west of where Wellington Street West and Somerset Street meet, and is walking distance from the Bayview O-Train stop, as well as being on a major transit route, and easily accessible by bike.
As before, music will start at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays with an hour-long set by the Beeched Wailers, followed by an all-ages open jam, with both food and drinks available.
Wailers leader and trumpeter Nick Dyson sounded upbeat – about both the new location and the group's upcoming album – when he talked to OttawaJazzScene.ca this week.
“We're feeling pretty positive about the Wellington Eatery. The owner, George, is very cut and dried, cut to the chase kind of guy. Shoots from the hip and means what he says. I think the Wellington Eatery's going to love having us there and I think we're going to love being there.”
It's a bigger location than before, he said, with better sightlines and at least two possible places for the stage.
The band had been playing at the Rochester Pub in western Centretown since March, 2014, to consistent crowds, drawing both local professional musicians and students. “All things considered, the Tuesdays were, quite a lot of the time, the busiest weeknight at the Rochester, even if we had a slow night,” Dyson said.
After the pub abruptly announced it was closing in early July, “we just started looking at what the best things about the jams were, and tried to figure out what a spot would be that would be mutually beneficial.” They wanted a centrally-located spot, close to public transit, and ended up talking to four or five different locations, he said.
Dyson said they also want to ensure younger players could participate. “Some of the most fun we've had at the jam is when young people, advanced high school kids, come out and join in.”
Recording jazz by local musicians
The Wailers include five of Ottawa's hardest-working jazz musicians: Dyson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tyler Harris on alto and tenor sax, Alex Tompkins on guitar (who replaced founding member Steve Boudreau), Dave Schroeder on bass, and Michel Delage on drums. Their regular hour-long opening set often featured instrumental jazz classics, mostly from the bop and post-bop eras in the 50s and 60s. On their first evening, they played an upbeat Cannonball Adderley number – which they repeated to end their last set at the Rochester.
But they've also made a point of featuring compositions by the band members and by other local musicians, especially during monthly guest appearances by locals. Dyson said that meant they'd accumulated a large book of originals – and that's what they recorded at a cozy cottage near Johnson Lake in Quebec on August 9.
“It was awesome. Man, what a great experience. Everybody's come away from it saying we haven't laughed so hard in a very long time. It was a great vibe and the cottage ended up being perfect. We moved the dining room table out and set up right there.”
They ended up with 12 tracks: two by Dyson, two by Harris, and several by Boudreau, plus pieces by by locals Mark Ferguson, Mike Essoudry, Peter Hum, and Garry Elliott, all recorded by Ottawa sound engineer John Rosefield.
“There's some straight-8's modern jazz feel stuff, and there's some real swinging tunes, and there's some up-tempo stuff, and a Latin tune, and some odd-meter stuff as well.”
Dyson said he hoped to release one or two tracks digitally in the next month, and then a CD later this fall. One reason for the session was to have recordings to submit to jazz festivals, he said, and they would be looking to tour the CD next year.
The group's last jam at the Rochester Pub on July 7 was packed despite the summer jazz doldrums. Many local jazz musicians showed up to play and to commiserate.
Dyson said the band was excited to have the jams start up again. “It's going to be great. Everybody's been looking forward to it.”
– Alayne McGregor
Read OttawaJazzScene.ca's story about the first Tuesday night jam hosted by the Beeched Wailers: Beeched Wailers open a new jazz jam at the Rochester Pub & Eatery
August 29: Added Peter Hum to the list of local composers recorded by the Wailers, at Dyson's request. Hum wasn't mentioned in the original interview.