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Ottawa-Gatineau's 2013 Jazz Score

©Brett Delmage, 2013

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Do you have any comments about Ottawa-Gatineau's jazz scene in 2013 or this story? Please share them by email or in the OttawaJazzScene.ca Facebook group. We'd be delighted to hear from you!

Introduction

Depending on how you looked at it the Ottawa-Gatineau jazz scene was either half empty or half-full in 2013. It was a year of expansion and contraction; it was a year of major achievements and major losses.

And it was a centrifugal year, as jazz moved away from downtown, and in some cases right out into the the country.

The year started off on a sad note, with the unexpected death of the trail-blazing jazz organizer and broadcaster Jacques Émond. It ended on a similar sad note, with the closing of the AlphaSoul Café, the spunky location which had dared to attract the Ottawa Jazz Festival jams outside of downtown.

But in between were many artistic successes, and increased support for jazz at several prominent locations. And, in fact, the number of Ottawa-Gatineau jazz shows which OttawaJazzScene.ca listed continued to increase.

Percussionists Jesse Stewart and Hamid Drake sold out consecutive shows at GigSpace in March, part of its expanded and popular jazz and improvised music concerts in 2013   © Brett Delmage, 2013

The Jazz Scene: growing here and shrinking there

This year, there was more news than usual – good and bad – about Ottawa-Gatineau venues offering jazz.

  • In 2013, GigSpace Performance Studio in Hintonburg became even more of a go-to location for both visiting musicians and local artists delivering more ambitious projects. Its total number of concerts which OttawaJazzScene.ca listed in 2013 almost doubled over 2012 (65 over 33). Almost every weekend throughout the year featured concerts – and some weekdays too. GigSpace also offered workshops and a monthly jazz jam.

    It opened the year with a three-concert “The Composer Performs” series, curated by Elise Letourneau and presenting new material by her, Jan Järvlepp, and Jesse Stewart, which crossed between jazz and new music. In his series in the spring, guitarist Roddy Ellias featured everything from a duet with standards master Gene Bertoncini, to a quartet featuring Chinese lute and flute, to a solo show, to a celebration of improvisation with Christine Duncan and Jesse Stewart.

    A GigSpace series showcasing three local singers was a sell-out success, as were many other individual vocalists' shows. And continuing into 2014 will be the studio's Still Swingin' series, celebrating the veteran jazz musicians who are still contributing to Ottawa's jazz scene.

The Roddy Ellias Trio plays to an attentive audience at the Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge in December. Options presented more live jazz than any other venue in 2013. © Brett Delmage, 2013

  • The Brookstreet Hotel Options Jazz Lounge in Kanata expanded its jazz offerings to seven nights a week as of March 1, with a wide range of local musicians, as well as some from Ontario and Quebec, and a few touring from further away. In May, it launched a regular Sunday jazz brunch.

    Brookstreet also partnered with the Ottawa Jazz Festival to offer Canadian jazz groups during the festival (some of whom also played in Confederation Park). And, as of the end of January, the HML Trio hosted a jazz jam at Brookstreet every Thursday night, which proved a popular, ongoing attraction.
  • The AlphaSoul Café in Hintonburg, which had regularly been presenting jazz on Fridays and a few Saturday nights, took the bold step of hosting the jazz festival late-night jam sessions in June, which rapidly became packed with musicians and listeners, with a happy, happening vibe and some amazing and unexpected performances. (“Is that Gilad Hekselman playing drums? Yup, it is!”) The café continued to expand its jazz nights in the fall, with more Saturdays and Tuesdays and a wider range of musicians. The jazz attracted a steady clientèle. Unfortunately, for reasons unrelated to music, the café closed at the end of the year.
  • ZenKitchen teamed up with guitarist Tim Bedner to offer regular Sunday jazz evenings starting in March, replacing the Sunday jazz brunches they'd started in 2012. It started running every second week, but by May it had become popular enough to run every Sunday, mostly presenting Bedner in duet with another local musician.
  • Zola's Restaurant in Bells Corners expanded its jazz shows with local musicians to cover Saturday nights and Sunday brunches and occasional other evenings. In October, it also began showing jazz concerts on HD TV several times a month on Friday nights. These were broadcast from New York City by Jazz at Lincoln Center, on its new Micro Concert Network; Zola's was the first location in Canada to join the network.
  • Ottawa's east end has historically been a difficult location to hear jazz, but there were a few hopeful signs in 2013. Bernard Stepien and Nathan Corr's successful monthly bebop nights at Hanoi Pho in Orleans, Nicole Ratté's show at an Orleans brasserie, and in particular, the sold-out Latin Jazz Night at the Shenkman Arts Centre in October organized by Miguel de Armas, playing with a fine selection of Ottawa jazzers.
  • For many years, the Wednesday jazz nights at Café Nostalgica at the University of Ottawa have been an important nurturing place for local jazz artists, giving them a place to experiment with new material and lineups in front of an appreciative audience (if not great pay). The university's Graduate Students' Association decided to tear down and completely rebuild the old building containing the café to make it larger and more accessible; it closed at the end of March, 2012.

    It didn't reopen until mid-August, 2013, almost nine months behind schedule. The Chocolate Hot Pockets hosted the jazz nights in September, and a Dutch electro-jazz-hiphop group in October. Then inspectors realized the café didn't have a currently-valid liquor license, and the café management shut down all evening programming until it got one (and didn't return any phone calls). A new café manager has been hired, and the café has applied for a new liquor license, but it's not yet clear when the jazz nights will restart, if ever.

The long-running Jazz Mondays returned to Le Petit Chicago by popular demand, bringing in special monthly guests that included Souljazz's Pierre Chretien on vibes © Brett Delmage, 2013

  • Because of financial difficulties unrelated to its jazz offerings, Le Petit Chicago in downtown Gatineau canceled almost all its music shows at the beginning of 2013, including the Monday jazz nights hosted by Curiosity Killed the Quartet. After a few months, however, the band badly missed playing there, and the bar missed having any customers on Monday nights.

    To the relief of all, Zakari Frantz and the quartet returned, with a cover charge added to help make up the band pay. A great deal of interesting new music ensued, with Frantz bringing in occasional different groups or guest musicians, as well as the regular enjoyable jams. Le Petit Chicago is also slowly starting to reinstate music (sometimes jazz) on weekends.
  • In March, JazzWorks added a new jazz jam on the first Sunday afternoon of the month, in addition to its regular jams on the third Thursday evening. The aim was to reach reach younger musicians and those who couldn't stay up late. JazzWorks says the Sunday audiences are still smaller than those in Thursdays, but points out that also gives jammers more of a chance to play – and to be heard, with the lower noise level.
  • The JazzWorks jazz camp celebrated its 20th anniversary of teaching adult jazz musicians this August, with several of its original faculty including John Geggie, Jean Martin, and Rob Frayne returning. JazzWorks also tried out a new one-day workshop, the Ultimate Jazz Combo Workout, in the spring.
  • The Saturday Afternoon Jazz Jams at Pressed in Centretown ended in June. Despite their popularity, they have not restarted.
  • Two downtown restaurants which had regularly featured local jazz, Burgers on Main and Levante Bistro, closed in the summer. In our experience, both offered good food and music, but were not attracting a consistent base of diners/listeners.
  • The Elmdale Tavern reopened as the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern, but its musical offerings stayed on the DJ/R&B/indie side.

What was particularly heartening about this year was how many times venues – even those which didn't ultimately succeed – tried new jazz combinations, and in many cases did succeed in attracting jazz listeners and improving the scene.

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NAC Presents featured Molly Johnson and other Canadian jazz vocalists, playing sold-out concerts © Brett Delmage, 2013

Series come, series go

Montreal's Martin Tétreault performed with Ensemble SuperMusique as part of two popular and special improvisers' concerts that IMOO presented in 2013 © Brett Delmage, 2013

  • IMOO (the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais) continued to feature combinations of local and visiting musicians at its biweekly avant-garde concert series on Sunday nights at the Umi Café. Co-founder Craig Pedersen moved to Montreal, but retained his organizer hat (along with Linsey Wellman). Highlights included Ken Aldcroft and the Convergence Ensemble, the CD release concert for It's a Free Country, Riverrun, the live presentation of Ryan Purchase’s Morphology of a Lover, the first Accordion Conspiracy, and the duet between vocalist Tena Palmer and percussionist Bob Vespaziani.

    IMOO also presented several special concerts in other locations, including Ensemble SuperMusique from Montreal, and the duo of NYC bassist William Parker and Toronto guitarist Ken Aldcroft.

    Their second annual IMOOfest, this year in November at GigSpace, featured some brilliant artistic moments, particularly from Christine Duncan and Jean Martin, Land of Marigold, Jennifer Giles with Linsey Wellman and Justin Haynes, and Jesse Stewart. Although it nearly broke even, IMOOfest did not increase its audience over its first year, in part because of weak promotion. It will return in 2014.

  • Discerning listeners (and fans of big band music) look out for the evening concerts in early August at the Carleton University jazz camp featuring the camp faculty. This year, the camp attracted a slew of saxophonists by bringing in Joel Frahm, but composer and trumpeter Paul Tynan and pianist and drummer André White also added substantially to the musical interest. We particularly enjoyed the delightful tribute to Horace Silver's music arranged by Mark Ferguson, the trio of Joel Frahm, Roddy Ellias, and John Geggie, and the big band concert featuring Tynan's dense and melodic compositions.

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The death of longtime jazz radio host Jacques Émond was a big loss for the jazz community. © Brett Delmage, 2012

People: achievements and losses

  • It's still hard to believe that one can no longer hear Jacques Émond's voice introducing his favourite big band jazz on CKCU-FM on Sunday afternoons, or see him smile as he recounts his favourite recent concerts. The former programming director of the Ottawa Jazz Festival left a huge hole in the Ottawa Jazz scene with his unexpected death on January 6. The outpouring of grief and of grateful thanks for all that Jacques had done for jazz in Ottawa and for individuals was intense.

    Vocalists Karen Oxorn, Nicole Ratté, and Dominique Forest, all of whom had been helped in their careers by Émond, dedicated their Ella/Billie concert this spring to him and wrote special lyrics for a song in his memory. Ratté also dedicated her Jazz Across Generations show in November to Émond, who had agreed before his death to help sponsor the show.

    CKCU broadcast a special memorial edition
    of Swing is in the Air, with tributes from many musicians, broadcasters, journalists, and jazz festival staff who had known him – and some of his favourite music.

    The 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival closed with a special tribute to Émond, including concerts from two groups led by prominent Ottawa musicians: the Rob Frayne Dream Band and Los Gringos – and one of Émond's all-time favourite ensembles: the Vic Vogel Big Band from Montreal.

    CKCU
    has replaced Émond on Swing is in the Air with four rotating hosts: Ralph Hopper, Vince Rimbach, Karen Oxorn, and Cameron Garbutt.

  • Roddy Ellias was named a Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association this spring, recognizing his more than 40 years as a Ottawa-based guitarist, composer, and jazz educator. He was the only Canadian in the 2013 nominees. On International Jazz Day (April 30), a ceremony was held to recognize him and his music; OttawaJazzScene.ca has the story on video.

  • Jesse Stewart composed and performed a commissioned piece for the 20th anniversary of the Guelph Jazz Festival, combining string quartet with percussion, and standard notation with graphic scores and improvisation, for his Gnomon Variations.

  • eagles-mcgowan-wittet not only raised money for refurbishing the organ at Trinity United Church, James McGowan played jazz on it, for one of the more effective uses this year of unexpected instruments.

  • Pianist Brian Browne's strong, skilled hands on the keyboard were sadly missed for two months this fall as he recovered from surgery, but he returned in fine fettle to play Dave Brubeck compositions with Capital Vox, and to resume his regular weekly gig at Juniper.

  • Dr. Mortimer Katz, almost certainly the oldest active jazz musician in Ottawa, died in October. He was 87. A huge fan of bebop, “Mort” was well-known in the jazz community. He frequently participated in local jams and jazz camps as well as the occasional professional gig, playing tenor saxophone, clarinet, and piano. He was one of the featured musicians at the 2010 Ottawa JazzWorks Gala, where he was described as “the last man standing at many a jazz camp jam session”.

  • Jazz Ed brought talented high school jazz musicians together to rehearse under Roddy Ellias at Carleton U for a special performance at the festival ©Brett Delmage, 2013Ottawa's younger jazz musicians did well this year, with many accepted into and several winning scholarships to university jazz performance programs. Particularly outstanding was alto saxophonist Sam Cousineau, who won the Yamaha Kando Award at the 2013 MusicFest Canada. The Kando is the festival's premier award for all of Canada, and recognizes an individual who has “demonstrated outstanding musicianship, past musical achievements and solo performances.” Cousineau is now in his first year studying jazz performance at McGill University.

  • Brazilian guitarist Evandro Gracelli returned to Ottawa for three weeks in late March and early April, through the efforts of Ottawa singer Rachel Beausoleil and Carleton University. He had a jam-packed schedule: what with masterclasses, his own concerts and club gigs, and being invited to sit in at other shows, he was booked or double-booked just about every night. However, he did have time to perform with Beausoleil at a Sol da Capital reunion concert, and to play at the release concert for the Rimbombante CD he participated in. Gracelli also brought seven other Brazilian musicians with him, as part of a cultural and musical exchange co-sponsored by the University of São Paulo and Carleton University.

    In September, Beausoleil returned to Brazil to continue writing and performing with Gracelli, just as she had hoped in 2012. They are currently looking for ways to record a Sol da Capital CD.

  • Comings and goings: pianist Steve Boudreau returned to Ottawa in June after 2½ years on the road all across the U.S. in touring musical productions. Guitarist Steve Bilodeau, on the other hand, started his Masters at the New England Conservatory in September and will be in the U.S. for the next two years. And the Chocolate Hot Pockets are on temporary hiatus until late spring 2014, while trumpeter Ed Lister plays on a cruise ship.

  • Vocalist Renée Yoxon and trumpeter Craig Pedersen left the scene a bit poorer in September when they decamped for Montreal, although both have kept strong ties to Ottawa for teaching and projects. Both had been real innovators and entrepreneurs in the scene, opening up new venues and series.

When I interviewed Steve Boudreau last September, he mentioned how tight-knit the Ottawa jazz scene is (“everybody knows everybody”) and how much of a family feeling there is. You can really see that in the interconnections within the scene – and how much losing even one person can be felt.

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Fewer visiting musicians?

John Scofield played to a large audience in a suburban Gatineau concert hall in February to start his Quebec tour © Brett Delmage, 2013

When Café Paradiso closed mid-way through 2012, we heard forecasts that Ottawa would fall off the map for touring jazz musicians. That didn't happen. Instead,

  • GigSpace substantially expanded its concert offerings
  • the Brookstreet Hotel Options Jazz Lounge started featuring touring musicians, as did Pressed, Vineyards, and the Avant-Garde Bar to a lesser extent
  • IMOO (the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais) also joined up with other locations across Canada offering avant-garde jazz in Circuit to help facilitate tours.

But the first intimations of a problem showed up in April, when American improvisers Jack Wright and Bob Falisch canceled their appearance at IMOO because of visa rule restrictions. And then on July 31, the federal government quietly implemented a new fee. They started charging $275 per musician for a “Labour Market Opinion” for international artists playing at a venue with a primary business other than music. This was previously free.

  • Festivals: unaffected.
  • Pop stars playing in big arenas: unaffected.
  • Concert halls, including GigSpace: unaffected.
  • But bars or restaurants or coffee shops – locations which were more accessible and often part of cross-Canada tours for lesser-known artists – would have to pay the additional fees, unless the performers were members of the American Federation of Musicians. This particularly affected musicians from outside North America, the indie, folk, and jazz scenes, and groups with both American and Canadian members.

These fees prompted at least one American indie musician to cancel his tour this fall. 141,316 people signed a petition on change.org opposing the new fee. Has it affected Ottawa jazz yet? Several musicians in this situation moved to GigSpace, but we don't know how many tours to Ontario/Quebec have become less financially feasible because of the added fees.

Two other factors also reduced the number of international musicians regularly reaching Ottawa: the decision of the Ottawa Jazz Festival to concentrate its offerings into its winter and summer festivals, rather than sponsoring concerts throughout the year; and the reduction in the number of John Geggie Invitational series concerts at the National Arts Centre (NAC), and the decision to make those all-Canadian. Previously, Geggie had invited a wide range of American and European artists to play with him and other Canadians in his concerts.

The continued government cutbacks throughout Europe caused by the economic crisis meant less sponsorship for touring musicians too. While several countries sponsored jazz festival concerts again this year, there were almost no embassy-sponsored concerts outside of the festival season, unlike in previous years.

However, there were still major international stars performing in this area, including

  • John Scofield, whose tour of Quebec in February (organized by the Montreal Jazz Festival) started at a well-attended concert in Gatineau
  • and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's concert at the end of the year sold out.

There are clearly still audiences for touring musicians.

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David Mott and Canadan Jazz musicians received top billing and played to a park full of enthusiastic listeners at the Festival de Jazz Desjardin in Gatineau © Brett Delmage, 2013

Festivals brought in new music

  • Late one Saturday night in early May, a small Bank Street restaurant echoed to intense duets between guitarists like Vic Juris, Ben Monder, and Roddy Ellias, with a rapt full house drinking in the music (and beer). It was the late-night jam after a long day of workshops and performances – at the first Guitar Now! festival.

    The festival, which was held at Carleton University, attracted renowned guitarists from the United States, the U.K., Brazil, and Canada for three days exploring guitar technique, styles, and history. Each evening showcased a series of performances by participants, some in new combinations. The music ranged from classical to folk to country to jazz. Ellias is currently looking for funding in order to hold a second edition in 2015.

  • The 2013 Ottawa Chamberfest again showcased some excellent Cuban and Brazilian jazz, improvised vocals, and mainstream jazz, mostly in its late-night Chamberfringe series. Saxophonist Phil Dwyer and pianist Don Thompson played a fluid and well-attuned duet, with beautiful renditions of jazz standards which engrossed their audience. Jayme Stone showed the full range of the banjo as an improvising – and even classical music – instrument. Together with a particularly fine group of Toronto musicians, he produced a multi-layered concert whose only fault was that it was too short.

    Chamberfest presented the Element Choir, in a concert which included top Canadian jazz improvisers  © Brett Delmage, 2013Christine Duncan's Element Choir filled the huge vault of Dominion Chalmers United Church with fantastic sounds, with drummer Jean Martin, trumpeter Jim Lewis, and organist Veryan Weston complementing and adding to the beauty of the fully improvised music. And Scott Thomson's Arcade Air composition surprised and delighted noon-hour visitors to Ottawa City Hall in an ethereal interpretation by trumpeters, trombonists, two dancers, and the Element Choir.

  • The Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer had perfect weather for its 27th year, as it presented a fine series of jazz concerts in late July in a green-filled park with a lovely view of the Ottawa River. The music ranged from jazz vocals to swing to free improv to jazz interpretations of Sicilian folk melodies: what they had in common was great communication with the audience and enjoyable music. Children danced on the outside of the crowd, and listeners in lawn chairs clapped and swayed to the music.

  • The Merrickville Jazz Festival turned three this year, and celebrated with some higher-profile concerts, along with its wide selection of Ottawa-area jazz musicians. Two Toronto-area vocalists, Brenda Lewis, and the duo of Julie Michels & guitarist Kevin Barrett, were featured. It closed with a reprise of the Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday which filled the NAC Fourth Stage last April, and sold out again in Merrickville.

  • The Ottawa Jazz Festival took a different approach to concerts in 2013. In previous years, it had presented concerts throughout the year as musicians came through town. This year, it concentrated almost all its offerings into its winter and summer events. The only exceptions were two December concerts: the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Creole Christmas show, and Jane Monheit's appearance at its 2013 fundraiser. This meant less diversity, since the festival had been a notable co-sponsor of touring artists from Canada and Europe. It was either feast or famine in terms of concerts.

Read more about the Ottawa Jazz Festival's 2013 programming in our separate story.

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Diverse CDs released

Rimbombante's leader Dean Pallin launched their CD at an indie coffeeshop that was filled with enthusiastic listeners, in his own neighbourhood of Sandy Hill  © Brett Delmage, 2013Sixteen Ottawa-Gatineau jazz and improvising groups or individual musicians released CDs in 2013, but these were generally not the same ones who released in 2012. The CDs were as diverse as our local jazz and improvised music scene.

  • Florquestra Brasil – Flortografia (debut) [our story]
  • Rimbombante - Maria has Lost Her Soul (debut) [our story]
  • 3Jimmys – Bright Side
  • Gaby Warren - Reflections of a Jazz Fanatic (debut) [our story]
  • Nepean All-City Jazz Band 25th Anniversary Concert CD
  • Ryan Purchase - Morphology of a Lover [our story]
  • Craig Pedersen & Joel Kerr - It's a Free Country [our story]
  • Rob Frayne's Dream Band [our story]
  • Trouble Clef – Driftwood (EP)
  • Jesse Stewart & Hamid Drake – Timelines (debut together) [our story]
  • Brian Browne and Peter Woods - Honest Company
  • Steve Boudreau - Open Arms [our story]
  • Garry Elliott and Steve Boudreau - Pre-Dawn Skies (debut together) [our story]
  • IMOO Volume 3: Other People’s Art
  • Craig Pedersen Quartet: Why Paint at All
  • Craig Pedersen and Taylor Brook: Flux
  • Rebecca Noelle - A Night at Maggie's
  • Jozée Devoua & Swing Addiction - Jazz Winterlude

Two former Ottawa residents also released CDs in 2013: drummer Nick Fraser, whose CD release tour for Towns and Villages included Ottawa, and guitarist Mike Rud, who unveiled many of the original tunes in Notes on Montreal at a concert in March, 2012, in Ottawa.

Coming in 2014: new CDs from the Roddy Ellias Trio, The Souljazz Orchestra, The Jivewires, The Craig Pedersen Quartet, and Peter Hum.

(Did we miss a local jazz CD released in 2013, or an upcoming release for 2014? Please let us know.)

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The launch of longtime Ottawa jazz aficionado Gaby Warren's CD, 'Reflections of a Jazz Fanatic'  attracted a lot of interest  © Brett Delmage, 2013

What you were interested in

What were Ottawa-Gatineau jazz fans most interested in on our website last year?

We've reviewed the stats of which articles were the most popular on OttawaJazzScene.ca in 2013. One thing immediately struck us: how many people wanted to know about jazz in Gatineau. Our stories about Le Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer, and about other shows in Gatineau were among our best-read.

When it came to reviews, there was no doubt who got the most readers: Diana Krall's concerts at the National Arts Centre, which garnered many views from both here and around the world. But lots of readers were also interested in contributor Justin Duhaime's review (and interview with) John Scofield, who played in Gatineau in February. And as for locals: there was no doubt that lots of people wanted to learn about Gaby Warren's debut CD release concert at the NAC.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's year in jazz

First, we want to thank all our donors to the 2013 community funding campaign, which met its $5000 target, and enabled us to keep reporting in words, photos, and videos about the jazz makers, takers, and innovators.

Our video story brought listeners inside the planning and performance of the classic Ella and Billie Newport concerts that Karen Oxorn,Nicole Ratte and Dominique Forest gave at two sold-out shows  © Brett Delmage, 2013We'd also like to thank our ticket contest partners – the National Arts Centre, many local musicians, IMOO, the Capital Vox Jazz Choir, Guitar Now!, the Carleton University Jazz Camp, and les Brasseurs du Temps – who donated contest tickets to their shows in 2013 which our newsletter subscribers won and enjoyed. Contest winners repeatedly informed us that they were delighted to be introduced to musicians they had not heard or knew about. Our special thanks to Ottawa Chamberfest who donated two Chamberfringe passes in support of our annual community funding campaign.

We published listings for 2298 performances of jazz and improvised music in 2013, up (again) from 2232 in 2012, plus information on courses and workshops, Ottawa jazz clubs, and Ottawa jazz radio shows.

It was a year of beautiful, ear-expanding music (and only a few clunkers) here and afar. We published 53 reviews last year, almost all with photos of the performance.

And what was OttawaJazzScene.ca Editor Alayne McGregor's favourite concert to review? Probably Jeff Johnston at GigSpace, full of beautiful, intelligent music which touched your heart. But it's a very difficult choice: very close behind were Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet and the Indigo Trio in Guelph, the tribute to Dave Brubeck in Montreal, and the duets between Hamid Drake and Jesse Stewart at GigSpace.

We fully reported on two ear-expanding, Canadian, creative, improvised music festivals: the Guelph Jazz Festival, where listeners were introduced to innovative elevator music (photos), and Ottawa's IMOOfest where improvisers made music with both electronics and early 20th century tech (photos), and on a cardboard box (photos), which all emphasized that people also go to see a musical performance too.

We also reported on and photographed the Montreal Jazz Festival (particularly the excellent Canadian performers). And, most of all, we reviewed and covered the wide range of jazz available locally.

We wrote about our fascinating conversations with people in 2013 about their new projects and compositions – and also about the trials and tribulations of running a jazz club. Our favourite interviews included:

Some of Canada's best improvisers made new elevator music at the Guelph Jazz Festival. We were there to share that with you. ©Brett Delmage, 2013People go to “see” a concert. But what happens when the musicians decide to perform in the dark? We showed you with photos what that IMOOfest concert was like.

We published eight videos about the Ottawa jazz scene. The subjects ranged from Christmas music, to vocal jazz, to student big bands, to accordion-saxophone free improv, to a major composition inside a gallery, to a master percussion duet, to a guitar trio. We particularly enjoyed reporting on the tribute to Roddy Ellias as he was named a Jazz Hero and was given his award in a humorous and fun manner by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

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In summary

Despite all the challenges and losses in 2013, Ottawa remained a vibrant place for jazz, with many inspiring musicians and organizers who kept the scene going and expanding, The same could be said for the Canadian jazz scene: there was great music being created and being kept alive by dedicated and talented people.

It was a pleasure to have a conversation with them, write about them, photograph them, and celebrate jazz in Ottawa and in Canada.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read our previous years' retrospectives

Do you have any comments about Ottawa-Gatineau's jazz scene in 2013 or this story? Please share them by email or in the OttawaJazzScene.ca Facebook group. We'd be delighted to hear from you!

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