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Fred Hersch, Charlie Hunter headline 2013 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival

Fred Hersch dazzled the Ottawa Jazz Festival audience at his 2010 performance in the National Library and Archives ©Brett Delmage, 2012

The Ottawa Jazz Festival will bring pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Charlie Hunter to its 2013 Winter Jazz Festival, running from from January 31 to February 2.

In an announcement on its website, the festival indicated it would be presenting the Fred Hersch Trio on Thursday, January 31 at Dominion Chalmers United Church. Hersch last played in Ottawa at the 2010 festival, in a sold-out and memorably emotionally intense late afternoon concert at the National Library.

Hersch will be preceded by Michael Blake's Variety Hour, which just released a new album In the Grand Scheme of Things [Songlines, 2012] featuring “modern, creative jazz”. Saxophonist Blake is from Montreal but has lived in New York for the last 25 years. He's playing with three well-known Vancouver musicians: Chris Gestrin on mini-Moog and Rhodes, Dylan van der Schyff on drums, and J.P. Carter on trumpet and electronics. Van der Schyff was in Ottawa with John Butcher (in Way out Northwest) at the 2011 jazz festival, and played with Ben Monder in a John Geggie Invitational concert in 2009; Gestrin played with Seamus Blake in another Geggie concert in 2009.

Tickets for the Hersch/Blake concert will be $50 for reserved seats (at the front), $40 for regular seats, and $15 for youth under 25.

On Friday, February 1, the festival will move to the NAC Fourth Stage to present three shows. First will be Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas, who has been making a huge splash in Ottawa since moving here in the last year, and his Latin Jazz Quartet. He will be followed by a quartet headed by ex-Ottawa (now Toronto) drummer Nick Fraser, who has played in many groups here in Ottawa including the house band for the Ottawa Jazz Festival jam sessions. Fraser's work ranges from very exploratory to mainstream, but always with a deep intelligence and thoughtfulness behind it. And the final show there for the night will be the Brian Browne Quartet featuring fine Ottawa and Montreal musicians with a strong love of melody: Browne on piano, Roddy Ellias on guitar, Fraser Hollins on bass, and Dave Laing on drums.

Tickets for each of the Friday shows will be $17, and the shows are two hours apart (at 5, 7, and 9 p.m.) giving more time for music than in 2012.

John Scofield plays the main stage of the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 20, 2003. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2003

The Mercury Lounge will present The Ernest Dawkins New Horizon Trio on Friday night, as well. Dawkins, a saxophonist from Chicago, combines jazz, bebop, swing, and avant garde in his trio's music, and should be of particular interest to AACM free jazz enthusiasts.

Saturday, February 2 will feature three acts at the NAC Fourth Stage:

  • renowned jazz/fusion guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola. Hunter last sold out the Elmdale Tavern in April, 2011, a concert we heard very highly rated by those who attended, as well as a memorable Inside the Music Session with Tim Bedner.

  • The John Escreet Trio, with Tyshawn Sorey on drums and John Hébert on bass. Escreet is an English pianist, who moved to New York in 2006 and has since released four critically-acclaimed albums. He regularly plays with David Binney, who played at last year's Winter Jazz Festival.

  • The Wee Trio, a group from New Orleans featuring vibraphonist James Westfall, bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Jared Schonig, whose roots are in jazz, but also in rock and fusion. Their most recent album, Ashes To Ashes – A David Bowie Intraspective, features their reinterpretations of six diverse Bowie songs.

Tickets for these Saturday concerts will be $25 each. The Wee Trio will be at 5 p.m., Escreet at 7, and Hunter at 9 p.m.

Pawa Up First and The Darcys will appear at the Academic Hall at the University of Ottawa on Saturday night (ticket price $12). Pawa is a "live instrumental-rock band based in Montreal" whose influences include "Lalo Schifrin, Ennio Morricone, Philip Glass, Angelo Badalamenti, Astor Piazzolla, Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Bad Plus, Fugazi" and more.

And, finally, the Festival will be co-presenting the John Scofield Trio concert at la Maison de la Culture in Gatineau, a concert which had been announced months ago. Guitarist Scofield will be playing with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Bill Stewart.

Final details have yet to be announced. The festival also says it will be collaborating with downtown nightclubs and bars for late-night events on February 2.

    – Alayne McGregor

UPDATED December 14, 2012 to include the Brian Browne Quartet, the Ernest Dawkins New Horizon Trio, and Pawa Up First as well as ticket prices and show details.

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