Three different jazz eras on three different blocks – that's what you could hear on Preston Street on Friday night, during the free Italian Week Festival activities.
Furthest north was Cuppa Soup Combo, whose repertoire is mostly from the 1920s and 30s: the start of jazz. They played toe-tapping music like “Pennies from Heaven” – particularly appropriate since they were rattling donation cups for the Shepherds of Good Hope as they always do.
As one band member announced, the group includes the only member of the Ottawa local of the Musicians Union who officially plays washboard: Sanders Mommers. He ended their first set with a bravura performance with thimbles, cowbells, cymbals and all!
A few blocks up was the Richard Page Quartet, who played mostly hard bop and postbop from the late 50s and 60s: the Hank Mobley and Art Blakey generation. Page was playing a tenor sax which he had recently rescued from being a plant stand. He just got it back this week from being refurbished, and was getting used to it; it produced a strong, rich sound which suited their repertoire.
And in front of Pub Italia were The Jivewires, playing jive music in the style of the 1940s and 50s. They attracted a happy crowd, some of whom even danced. The Jivewires are a perennial favourite at Italian week, and played a mixture of originals – some of which will appear on their new album which they're recording in July – and music from that era by composers like Cab Calloway and Louis Prima.
You can hear the Cuppa Soup Combo again tonight, and Jivewires tonight and Sunday night (weather permitting). With the street closed for festivities (and streets like Gladstone Avenue closed at Preston) it's best to travel to the festivities by foot, bicycle and/or OC Transpo if possible.
– Alayne McGregor
See also: The Jivewires are on an upswing