Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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The Bank Street Bonbons show the power of brass at Irene's

View photos by Brett Delmage of this show

Mike Essoudry is going into the studio next week with his new brass band, the Bank Street Bonbons. And judging from their show at Irene's on Sunday, you can expect a bold and dynamic sound in their upcoming EP.

Keith Walton (l) on sousaphone and leader Mike Essoudry on drums anchored the Bank Street Bonbons in their debut series at Irene's ©Brett Delmage, 2016

The Bonbons crowded two alto saxophonists, two trumpeters, and two trombonists into a tiny corner of the Bank Street bar – plus a sousaphone and Essoudry's drumset. The remainder of the rear half of Irene's was filled with listeners jammed around tables and standing and dancing at the back – a happy audience which applauded strongly throughout.

Fast, energetic, and multi-layered, the Bonbons' music gave full voice to all the musicians. One moment you could hear Zakari Frantz and Tyler Harris on alto sax playing wild lines ascending to the ceiling; the next moment, Nick Dyson or Ed Lister would add a punchy and inflected trumpet solo. Behind them, trombonists Ryan Purchase and Mike Schultz contributed trombone riffs, sometimes muted, sometimes all-out. And it was all anchored by the deep bass growls of Keith Walton's sousaphone and Essoudry's propulsive drumming.

The Bonbons performed all four Sunday evenings in May at Irene's, which was their debut as a group. However, many of them were in Essoudry's previous brass band, the Mash Potato Mashers, a marching band which played its last show in 2014.

For four years, the Mashers were a highly popular part of Ottawa's jazz scene, especially at their home base of Irene's. The Bonbons played several Mashers tunes with a similar Balkan jazz feel – but the big difference was that they weren't marching at the same time. They could read the charts in front of them on music stands, instead of having to memorize all the music.

The group also performed newer originals by Essoudry, and several pop songs – including Chilliwack's “My Girl” arranged by Walton, which opened with a rock-steady drumbeat and a dark sousaphone riff, before letting the horns go full at the melody.

Read more: The Bank Street Bonbons show the power of brass at Irene's


The timeless beauty of jazz raises thousands for refugees

View photos by Brett Delmage of this event

For two hours on Sunday afternoon, Southminster United Church was filled with the timeless beauty of jazz – to help those in desperate need.

Dominique Forest and eight other musicians donated their musical performances to help raise $3772 for Ottawa Centre Refugee Action. ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Twelve Ottawa jazz vocalists and instrumentalists performed to support the work of Ottawa Centre Refugee Action (OCRA), which is helping families fleeing war and crises to resettle here. The concert raised a grand total of $3,772 through ticket sales, donations, CD sales, and a plant and bake sale outside the church.

OCRA organizer Angela Keller-Herzog told the audience that OCRA had committed to support 37 refugees, of which 27 (mostly from Syria and Iraq) had so far arrived. The concert proceeds would be applied to the $50,000 they still need to raise in order to finish this work, she said.

Omar Jammeh, who arrived a month ago in Ottawa after escaping discrimination in Gambia, expressed his deep thanks to the OCRA volunteers who had helped him – especially dealing with the shock of below-freezing temperatures at the end of April. “I've met so many beautiful people.”

On this Sunday afternoon, Ottawa was swelteringly hot – and there was competition from the Ottawa Race Weekend and other events. But the concert still attracted about 120 people, who listened attentively and applauded vigorously throughout.

Read more: The timeless beauty of jazz raises thousands for refugees


This Sunday: discover jazz vocalists and support refugees

Read our review of and see photos from this concert

Jazz fans can hear some of Ottawa's most accomplished jazz vocalists and instrumentalists on the same stage this Sunday from to 1 to 3 p.m.. The fundraising concert will be a 'mini festival' of discovery for listeners: an opportunity to sample eight different vocalists and a guitar-bass duo.

Mark Ferguson and Geri Childs ©Brett Delmage, 2014“I like the opportunity to share a stage with vocalists who bring their own style and interpretation to a song; as varied as a fingerprint,” said Sharron Timmons, one of the vocalists featured in the concert. “On the surface, we seem similar, especially as we all often sing from the same standards repertoire. But, upon closer listen, we all offer up our own nuances.”

If listeners fill Southminster Church (it seats about 400), “Sunday Afternoon Jazz in Aid of Refugees” can raise $8,000 for Ottawa Centre Refugee Action (OCRA), a grassroots group of volunteers who came together to help refugees settle in Ottawa. The concert is being organized by vocalist Geri Childs, who will also sing.

OCRA raises funds to support refugees resettle in Ottawa, as well as providing direct assistance. Since December, it says it has supported five Syrian families and one young man fleeing persecution in Gambia. The group's goal is to raise funds to support a total of twelve families.

The Juliet Singers: Elise Letourneau, Kathy Eagan, and Rachel Beausoleil © Brett Delmage, 2015The featured vocalists and instrumentalists are all donating their performances. The house band (which includes the popular jazz musicians Mark Ferguson, John Geggie, and René Lavoie) is being paid for its continuous work throughout the concert. Local 180 of the Canadian Federation of Musicians donated funds to pay for the band and provided a sound technician.

Musicians who are performing on Sunday have been active and had significant musical projects in recent years. has previously told you about most of them. In order of their listing on the event poster:


The 2016 Prince Edward County Jazz Festival is showcasing the Canadian jazz it loves

The Prince Edward County Jazz Festival is going anti-theme but remaining 100% jazz in 2016, according to its creative director, Brian Barlow.

Prince Edward County Jazz Festival creative director Brian Barlow ©Brett Delmage, 2015Unlike previous years, the festival, which runs August 16 to 21, will not feature any tributes to past jazz icons. “This year, we just chose people that we had wanted for a long time,” he said.

Those jazz musicians include two 2016 Juno Award winners – vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow and pianist Robi Botos – plus saxophonist Phil Dwyer, pianist Mark Eisenman, bassist Jodi Proznick, saxophonist Mike Murley, pianist Bernie Senensky, and a restaging of Joe Sealy's Africville Stories with vocalist Jackie Richardson. The festival's artist-in-residence, trumpeter Guido Basso, will also be featured in several shows.

And, as always, Barlow's star-studded big band will close the festival – this time featuring vocalist Alex Samaras.

In 2015, festival concerts commemorated Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's birth; in 2014, George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, Jim Hall, and Dave Brubeck; in 2013, Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert, and Oscar Peterson's Night Train album.

“We have done a lot of themes and tributes over the years, and a critic actually said that that must be what this festival only does – tributes and themes. I thought OK, this year, we're not going to do that, and so there's nothing whatsoever,” Barlow told

He said that the festival's four-person artist selection committee, for example, had wanted to have his daughter, Emilie-Claire, return. “I'm extremely careful about the whole idea of nepotism, so I'm very cautious about that, but the committee had been asking for her for a couple of years to come back.”

She was actually booked before she won the Juno, he said. “That was fun to have that happen.”

Read more: The 2016 Prince Edward County Jazz Festival is showcasing the Canadian jazz it loves


William O'Neill: a guitarist talks about his love of big band music

Carleton U music student William O'Neill and his big band performed to a standing ovation for his graduation pertformance  ©2016 Brett Delmage

Guitarist William O'Neill is a fan of big band music. On May 7, he presented his graduation recital with his big band, in the Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University.

His concert featured his original tunes and arrangements and received a standing ovation.

“What really fostered, again, my love for big band music and big sound music was being a part of the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra. I love the big band style. There's so many options. You can have the power of a freight train or the softness of a soft wind. There are so many elements you can have in this size of group, which I think is just so important and so cool about jazz.”

After his recital, William talked with about how he put together this big band concert. He also spoke about his experience studying music for four years at Carleton University.

View photos of this performance

Listen to the podcast [10 minutes]

You are welcome to download the podcast for personal listening. Please respect our copyright. Do not copy our content to another website, including Facebook. Link to our page instead.

   – Brett Delmage

Watch CYJO perform one of O'Neill's compositions


Erin Saoirse Adair adds power to her anger with a jazz backing

The first song that Erin Saoirse Adair wrote about sexual assault was a cheerful folksong accompanied by ukulele. Her latest begins with ten F-words and is backed by a jazz ensemble.

Gaslight, Erin Saoirse Adair's new EP, uses jazz to add to its angry impact.On Saturday, the Ottawa singer-songwriter will unveil her new EP, Gaslight, in a show at Pressed in Centretown. But there will be an “explicit” warning on several of the songs, reflecting the seriousness of the material, and Adair's furious approach.

It's an anger which has been shared by many women this spring, after the result of the Jian Ghomeshi assault trial, and disclosures of infamous rapes involving other celebrities. But Adair told that she started writing on this topic well before the Ghomeshi revelations.

“I've been writing songs like this for the last several years, and have been performing them somewhat, and have dabbled in the topic in all of my previous releases. The reason why I'm releasing it at this time is because it worked out that way. I had enough songs and I had the ability to release it as part of one of my classes at Carleton [University]."

The classic female protest song is vocals and guitar or piano, but Adair has added a strong jazz accompaniment. Local jazz musicians Michel Delage on drums, Nick Dyson on trumpet, and Richard Page on saxophone and clarinet back her on the EP's five tracks.

“I felt like the brass gave me more power in my singing and it made the song sound more angry in a way. More brash,” she said.

Read more: Erin Saoirse Adair adds power to her anger with a jazz backing


Andrew Ferderber's A+ graduation performance, and how he got there

Carleton U music student Andrew Ferderber played with enthusiasm throughout his 90-minute graduation pertformance  ©2016 Brett Delmage

Music student Andrew Ferderber has been heard by Ottawa-Gatineau jazz audiences as the drummer driving the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Carleton University Fusion Ensembles, or jamming regularly at the Tuesday evening Beeched Wailers jams and at Jazz Mondays at Le Petit Chicago. He's also played regularly around town in non-jazz groups: with Rômmel Ribeiro, in the Billy Love Band, and in Blast from the Sun.

On May 6, he presented his final graduation performance in Carleton University's Kailash Mital Theatre, with much enthusiasm and care, and a great deal of preparation. His work paid off well -  he received a grade of A+ a few days later for his ninety-minute concert.

Ferderber spoke with at the end of his performance. He shared his thoughts on the value of studying four years of music at Carleton U, his preparations for the concert, and about music in general.

Thanks to Kailash Mital Theatre's sound engineer John Rosefield, who provided the live concert audio recording. He puts you right on Ferderber's drum throne for the performance of Spain (headphones recommended).

   – Brett Delmage

View photos of this performance

 Listen to the podcast [28 minutes]

You are welcome to download the podcast for personal listening - Please respect our copyright. Do not copy our content to another website, including Facebook. Link to our page instead.


Ed Lister's hard-swinging tribute Wednesday to Duke Ellington's classic music

Ed Lister still vividly remembers the music which first inspired him as he discovered jazz.

And that's why the 20-something Ottawa trumpeter is leading a quintet paying a modern and exuberant tribute to Duke Ellington at 12 noon on Wednesday – in a show called “Pay the Duke”.

Ed Lister is best known in Ottawa for his funkier jazz bands like the Chocolate Hot Pockets, but he has never forgotten his initial love of Duke Ellington's music ©Brett Delmage, 2012“Sometimes in the modern music we all get wrapped up in, sometimes we forget some of the classic stuff that I feel led us to this point. So it's “Pay the Duke” ... I guess my idea behind the title was just to show some respect for the music that started off the whole jazz, swing thing.”

The concert is part of the Doors Open for Music at Southminster series at Southminster United Church in old Ottawa South. Most of the Wednesday noon-hour concerts in the weekly series feature classical music, but each year there's a few jazz shows as well.

Lister said he first heard Duke Ellington's music when he was about 12 or 13, “a couple years after I started playing trumpet”, through his father, a big jazz fan. “I immediately got into Wynton Marsalis and then [through him] Duke Ellington.”

Even though he didn't fully understand Ellington's compositions at the time, “I just liked the swing. I liked the groove on it, you know, like it was intricate music but it still grooved. It was something. He was quite ahead of his time, back then.”

Read more: Ed Lister's hard-swinging tribute Wednesday to Duke Ellington's classic music


Fawn Fritzen takes a fresh approach to jazz standards

Whitehorse, Yukon, is not the first place you think as a jazz mecca. But vocalist Fawn Fritzen doubts she would have ever starting singing jazz if it hadn't been for Whitehorse's supportive and nurturing arts scene.

Fawn Fritzen (l) vividly describes the process which led to her new album, Pairings, in an interview with editor Alayne McGregor. Her Ottawa release concert for the album is on Wednesday, May 11, at the Steinway Piano Gallery ©2016 Brett Delmage"I really believe that if I hadn't moved to Whitehorse I wouldn't have pursued [singing] professionally."

And successfully enough that Fritzen has just released her second album, Pairings, featuring many high-profile Canadian jazz musicians. After two packed shows in Whitehorse, she's now in southern Canada for a series of CD release shows, including in Ottawa.

This CD has Fritzen singing in duos (voice/bass, voice/drums, voice/piano, and even voice/saxophones) with musicians including Steve Amirault, Dave Restivo, Reg Schwager, George Koller, Kurt Schwonik, Kelly Jefferson, Richard Underhill, and Shirantha Beddage. It combines popular jazz standards (Cole Porter) and some which should be better-known (Francesca Blumenthal) – and even includes a rare tune by The Guess Who. Fritzen also contributes four of her own originals, one of them inspired by CBC Tonic host Tim Tamashiro's ideas about "drinky" jazz.

At her Ottawa concert on Wednesday, May 11, she'll perform with two of the musicians on the CD: pianist Dave Restivo and bassist George Koller.

Fritzen was in Ottawa earlier this week. editor Alayne McGregor got together with her to learn about the unexpected path that led her into jazz and to this new album.

In particular, Fritzen explained how she chose the different material on the CD, and how excited she was to have found lesser-known gems to record on it.

Read more: Fawn Fritzen takes a fresh approach to jazz standards


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