After next Tuesday, more people could know how diverse and active Ottawa's jazz scene is.
The Record Centre is hosting 24 hours of live local jazz starting at 10 a.m. The music will range from jazz vocals, to guitar trios, to solo saxophone improvisations, to organ and drum grooves, to a tuba/voice duet.
Well-known local jazz musicians including John Geggie, Roddy Ellias, Rob Frayne, Mike Essoudry, Tim Bedner, Alex Moxon, Christine Fagan, Megan Jerome, Petr Cancura, Zakari Frantz, Richard Page, Lucas Haneman, Linsey Wellman, Ed Lister, Michel Delage, Alex Bilodeau, and many more are performing. Ottawa Citizen jazz journalist Peter Hum is leading one trio.
The event is the brainchild of Ottawa Jazz Festival programming director Petr Cancura, who has teamed up with the Hintonburg vinyl and audio store to offer 24 mini-concerts from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Wednesday. Each concert is 45 minutes long, starting on the hour. There's no admission charge, but donations will be encouraged.
It's a last-minute event: Cancura only came up with the idea this week. On Tuesday morning, he phoned Record Centre owner John Thompson, and received Thompson's immediate and enthusiastic assent. The list of groups was still being finalized as late as Thursday, and a few more changes were published Friday evening. But both Thompson and Cancura were confident that it would be a success.
“Petr was here this morning, and I told him, this is going to go off without a hitch!” Thompson told OttawaJazzScene.ca in our podcast interview on Friday. “You watch!”
Learn lots more about The 24-Hour Jazz Ramble in our podcast interviews with John Thompson, and with Petr Cancura:
Listen to the complete interview with The Record Centre's John Thompson Download
Listen to the complete interview with the Ottawa Jazz Festival's Petr Cancura Download
Cancura said he had three reasons for creating this event at this time: firstly, to raise awareness of the jazz festival, which will begin in less than two weeks; secondly, to showcase Ottawa's local jazz talent, which gets “a little buried” at the festival because of all the international artists; and lastly, because “it was an opportunity to put together a really cool community event”.
“It's a celebration of our local jazz scene,” he said. “I think events like this give a great opportunity for the rest of the city to know that the [jazz] scene is alive and well, and if we can use the festival's name to do that, it's great.”
“It happens in all these other scenes, like Megaphono. Everybody pays attention to the pop, and the indie, and the alt-country. People need to know that we have a very hep and cool jazz community. So I hope people take that away from this event.”
“It looks like a really great line-up,” Thompson said. “Probably about half the people have played in the store, in one band or another, so I'm really looking forward to it.”
Originally, Cancura said, he had thought of having it be 36 hours long, in honour of the festival's 36th edition this year, but decided “that would be insane”. Twelve hours wasn't special enough, he figured, but “24 hours seemed like something really special, and I think it's the factor of trying to really go all the way through the night and through the wee hours of the morning that makes this special”.
He said he picked a mid-week date because more people would be in town and there was less conflict with other events, so “it would get proper attention and not compete with anything”.
He's dubbed the event “The 24-Hour Jazz Ramble”, in a tip of the hat to the famous all-night “Midnight Ramble” house concerts which drummer Levon Helm used to run. “I like the idea of it being an informal … it's not a jam, but it's an informal sharing of ideas, a kind of a party.”
On Tuesday, he said, he sent out an invitation to local jazz artists “active in the scene and doing interesting projects”, many of whom are playing at this year's jazz festival on local stages or in the jam sessions.
“I reached out to as many musicians as I could think of, and as they got back to me and confirmed, that's how it came together.” There was an immediate uptake, and most of the slots were confirmed within a day, even the overnight slots. He said the order was primarily determined by who was available when, and who responded first.
The musicians are receiving an honorarium, Cancura said, in terms of festival access.
The Record Centre has been hosting jazz and other live shows in the store since 2014 – but Thompson trumpeted that this would be “by far our biggest show” yet. The store will provide its piano and drumset and a PA system for vocalists, although most of the music will be acoustic. It will also add extra seating for listeners, and may even move the record bins back to increase space at the front, he said.
The biggest traffic jam may be around sunrise Wednesday morning, when Don Cummings arrives with his large and very heavy Hammond A organ and Lesley speaker and guides them into the store in time for the Bumpin' Binary show at 6 a.m, just in time to rouse listeners.
As it regularly does for concerts, the Record Centre will be taping all 24 shows on the store's vintage Technics 1500 reel-to-reel tape machine. Thompson said they post the recordings (after review and approval by the musicians) on the store's Soundcloud website, and have also released some on vinyl.
Both Cancura and Thompson said they would try to be around for almost all, if not all, of the 24 hours, although Thompson reserved the right to take a catnap on his downstairs couch. Cancura's wife Lynn Hanson will be performing in Rob Frayne's Drumswamp group at 6 p.m., and Cancura said he would ensure that he brought their young daughter to hear that show, and “keep her there as long as she can stay up”.
Thompson said that he'd been attending the jazz festival since the late 1990s. He was happy that the store could participate more in promoting the festival, because “jazz is the music that I love. It's a music that I collect on vinyl. It's a music that I take great pride in offering. We have a good used jazz section [in the store] – I've put a lot of effort into that.”
He said that the primary purpose of all the store concerts – including this event – was to have more people know about the store, rather than increasing sales, although the cash registers are open and will be open for all 24 hours of the jazz ramble. “For me, I play the long game, so it's always about awareness.”
Cancura said he hoped one result of the event would be to increase festival ticket and pass sales (the festival is offering a discount on sales of Bronze passes at the store during the overnight hours of the event). “It's an event to raise awareness of the jazz festival, and of course we hope it will help with ticket sales. That's what we need it to do,” although he noted that that raising awareness of the the Ottawa jazz scene was also important.
Festival ticket sales are “about the same” this year as in 2015, he said, with the proviso that this year's festival is only 10 days long compared to 14 days last year. “They're doing quite well. We need them to do great.”
– Alayne McGregor, with podcast editing by Brett Delmage
The 24-Hour Jazz Ramble Schedule
(from the Ottawa Jazz Festival website as of Friday evening, June 10 and then updated according to the actual appearances)
10 a.m. Adam Saikaley/Musak 2016
11 a.m. The Chocolate Hot Pockets [review]
12 p.m. Tim Bedner, Mark Alcorn, Marilee Townsend
1 p.m. Michel Delage & Steve Boudreau
2 p.m. Michel Delage, Alex Bilodeau & James Dickens
3 p.m. Michel Delage, Lucas Haneman & Dave Schroeder
4 p.m. Bone & Cello Jazz (Steve Berndt and Ken Kanwisher)
5 p.m. Christine Fagan Group
6 p.m. Rob Frayne’s DrumSwamp [interview]
7 p.m. Peter Hum w/ Charles Gordon & John Geggie
8 p.m. Roddy Ellias w/ John Geggie & Petr Cancura, Mark Ferguson
9 p.m. Pierre Chretien’s Atlantis Jazz Ensemble [review]
10 p.m. ERU-ERA: Ed Lister, Marc Decho, Ben di Millo, Stephen Adubofuor
11 p.m. Petr Cancura’s Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang!
12 a.m. Alex Moxon and Zakari Frantz/ Joint Task Force
1 a.m. Linsey Wellman [video]
2 a.m. Andrew Knox & Feelin’ Nostalgic Sextet
3 a.m. Julian Selody & Zak Frantz: Sax-Sruti-Sruti-Sax
4 a.m. Sean Duhaime Trio [review]
5 a.m. The Julian Calendars: Julian Selody & JM Francheteau
6 a.m. Bumpin’ Binary: Mike Essoudry & Don Cummings [interview]
7 a.m. Mélanie and Keith Hartshorn-Walton “Tuba & Voice”
8 a.m. Richard Page & Terence Wright
9 a.m. Megan Jerome (with Don Cummings, Mike Essoudry, Petr Cancura)
The shows will all take place at The Record Centre, 1099 Wellington Street West (at Sherbrooke), four blocks east of Parkdale Avenue and four blocks west of the former festival jazz jams at AlphaSoul Cafe.
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OttawaJazzScene.ca reviews and photos of other Record Centre live jazz performances