OttawaJazzScene.ca took new risks, covered new territory, and got new support in 2012.
We created more video pieces, wrote more in-depth (and some short) articles, and did our best to cover all the corners of the local jazz scene. We reviewed and photographed many local concerts, and also expanded our coverage to two exceptional Canadian jazz festivals: the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Guelph Jazz Festival.
We also had the invaluable help of eager writers Chris Maskell and Justin Duhaime. Chris wrote an excellent profile of Toronto saxophonist Pat LaBarbera and several reviews. Although we were delighted he was accepted into the music program at McGill this fall, we were very sorry to lose him to Montreal.
Reading back through these reviews and articles, one thing stands out: the enthusiasm and commitment of the artists we interviewed and reviewed – and the fascinating details that came out as they told their stories. Who would have expected how Robi Botos felt and what happened to him the first time he went to see Oscar Peterson?
Among our favourite pieces in 2012 were:
- with Toronto pianist Robi Botos, right after he won the Grand Prix at the Montreal Jazz Festival, along with clips from his victory concert
- with Mandar Gumaste and members of the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band about their 10th anniversary and experiences in the band, with clips from their anniversary concert
- with Steve Berndt and Brian Browne about their new CD, Déjà Vu: just a delight to listen to them talk and play together.
- with Montreal saxophonist Chet Doxas about his Riverside project with Dave Douglas, Steve Swallow, and Jim Doxas, paying tribute to late jazz clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre through new compositions inspired by Giuffre.
- with renowned Canadian artist and Order of Canada Companion Michael Snow about his lesser-known, but decades-long, life as a jazz musician.
- with Toronto saxophonist David Mott about his visceral connection to the baritone sax and his fascination with the Land of Oz.
- with Toronto bandleader John MacLeod about the joys of leading and writing for his Rex Hotel Jazz Orchestra
- with Ottawa singer Rachel Beausoleil about how she has kept up her jazz connection with Evandro Gracelli despite living on two different continents.
- with Toronto guitarist David Occhipinti about how his music crosses categories – and how he started with the Beatles.
- with Ottawa guitarist Tim Bedner in which he explained how his first CD took unexpected routes to reach its final, and fine, form.
- Montreal Jazz Festival: Of the wonderful music we heard, four shows really stood out: Rémi Bolduc's 50th birthday concert, where he invited and enjoyed playing with many of the best Montreal's best jazz musicians; Marc Copland's trio concert with its inspired communication and selection of romantic music; Lorraine Desmarais' release concert for her latest CD: vibrant and effervescent and beautiful; and Tord Gustavsen's solo concert, the nearest we've heard to a religious jazz experience in a while.
- Guelph Jazz Festival: When Guelph was good, it was amazing. Colin Stetson's concert which made a church sing; Abdullah Ibrahim's 75 minutes of piano brilliance, imperceptibly joining one piece of music to the next; Charles Spearin bringing his neighbours to life with music in The Happiness Project; Fred Frith producing mind-blowing sounds on his guitars; and the three very different John Coltrane tributes, but each doing its best to be true to the composer's spirit.
- Ottawa Chamberfest: We knew Mark Fewer was a damned good violinist, but we never expected the sheer virtuosity, range, and vigor he displayed at his 40th birthday concert. We expected Riverside, with Chet Doxas, Dave Douglas, Steve Swallow, and Jim Doxas, and its tribute to Jimmy Giuffre, to be excellent, but it was beyond that: the depth and intensity of the music was riveting.
- Ottawa, all year-long: See the reviews of local concerts this year in the Reviews section of OttawaJazzScene.ca. You may learn about someone you missed last year but will get another opportunity to hear again this year.
Of the many photographs we published this year, Brett's favourites included:
- Thomson, Hood, and Stewart: Poetry in motion at IMOO: “Jazz is movement”!
- Extraordinary sounds: CCMC and Phil Minton at the NAC 4th Stage: The sound almost jumps out of the photos from these renowned Canadian and international artists.
- Happy birthday – with saxophones: This celebration concert of Remi Bolduc's 50th birthday at the Montreal Jazzfest brought out many happy and thoughtful moments.
- Two personae of Patrick Breiner: Traditional photography of Patrick's 'moving' performance wouldn't capture it fully - so I didn't make photographs like that.
What were your favourite articles, photos, or videos from the past year? Share your thoughts with other jazz fans on our Facebook discussion group, or email us at
and let us know.
OttawaJazzScene.ca would also like to thank the many musicians and venues who sent us listings about upcoming events so we could easily and accurately list them. You are so appreciated. And we have a particularly warm spot in our hearts for those who sent them to us at least two weeks in advance, didn't use ALL-CAPS, and sent them in our publication format. Thanks, guys!