Updated January 4, 2012
The 12th season of John Geggie's invitational jazz series will be both shorter and closer to home.
The number of concerts in the series has been cut in half (from six to three), and all the musicians will be from central Canada. Nevertheless, Geggie is enthusiastic about the series, which will present several artists who have rarely been heard in Ottawa – and, as usual, in less familiar combinations, playing music they're not necessarily conversant with.
There's “a certain amount of risk involved,” he said. “It's not a packaged thing, as some concerts can be: it's a little bit more on the edge approach.”
This season's Geggie series concerts at the National Arts Centre (NAC) Fourth Stage will include:
• Frank Lozano, Thom Gossage, Jean-Nicolas Trottier (February 16, 2013)
• Roddy Ellias, Pierre Tanguay, David Braid (March 9)
• Tara Davidson, Tim Bedner, William Carn, Jim Doxas (May 25)
Tickets are now on sale, at the same price as last year ($30/show), or all three shows for $80.
In the first concert, three Montrealers will join Geggie and his double bass on stage. While tenor saxophonist Frank Lozano frequently plays here, drummer Thom Gossage has not been in Ottawa for a number of years. And trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier has not been here as a leader at all – although he received the Galaxie Rising Star award at the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 2003, and has played in many well-known Quebec big bands (including those led by Joe Sullivan, Lorraine Desmarais, Vic Vogel, and Alain Caron).
All three are very active in the Montreal jazz scene as musicians and composers, and have their own bands. Geggie said he first heard Trottier at the OFF Festival in Montreal a few years ago: “He was really, really great, and I was surprised that he wasn't more known for what he could do, so it seemed to be a natural fit to just to get him to come and play.”
Three weeks later, on March 9, the line-up will mix Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto musicians, with Roddy Ellias on guitar, Pierre Tanguay on drums, and David Braid on piano (last here in 2011 at Chamberfest and at Café Paradiso).
“This was one of those situations where I had a little chat with Roddy and I said it would be nice to do something. What would you like to do? What kind of people would you like to play with? … All of the people in this particular concert are people who I have played with but not with this configuration of people. So I've played with Roddy for years. I've played with Pierre Tanguay in lots of different groups, and he's very, very busy in Montreal playing with all kinds of people, playing all over the place. He's a fabulous colorist kind of drummer. He's a really, really creative individual.”
“So it's a case that I've played with all three of these guys and I'm very aware of what each of these guys can do and well, let's put the four of us together, and put it in a pot, and turn it on boil, and see what we get. And I think it's going to be a really interesting thing, because Roddy, for all the years that he spent in Montreal, has never played with Pierre and he's always wanted to play with David, and so when I mentioned this to each of the guys, they all were totally into the idea.”
The last concert, on May 25, will mix more “inside” musicians like Toronto alto saxophonist Tara Davidson and local guitarist Tim Bedner, with Toronto trombonist William Carn, who is more associated with free improvisation, along with Montreal drummer Jim Doxas, a fixture at Geggie series concerts.
“Everyone has their things that they've been doing more: Tara has a bit more of an inside player, and William has other things that he does that move it more out there, and Tim is more of an inside player, and Jim has the ability of going in all kinds of different directions, which is why I like playing with him, because he's got that flexibility.”
Davidson is best known for her collaboration with Mike Murley, David Braid, and Ian Froman in the mainstream jazz quartet DMBQ, but she also co-leads the Carn-Davidson 9 with Carn. That nonet released its debut CD, 9, in mid-November.
For each concert, Geggie said, “what I was really trying to do was to try to find those kinds of circumstances that were interesting and different and challenging, and like 'Where are we going now?'. So I'm looking forward to that, just because of what's going on and I'm really thinking that's going to be loads of fun to go with that.”
This has been the model he has followed for the past 11 years: “trying to find the right combination of people, the right situations to make it all work really comfortably and easily.”