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Ottawa-Gatineau May jazz highlights: From Poland to pool bottom

Read about jazz in the second half of May

A birthday party fiesta, an improvised house concert, a show inside a swimming pool, tributes to Horace Silver, Cole Porter, and Nat King Cole – all these are part of Ottawa-Gatineau's jazz scene in May, 2017.

Artur Dutkiewicz - photo provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in OttawaNotable jazz artists including pianist DD Jackson, vocalist Fawn Fritzen and pianist Dave Restivo, vocalist Micah Barnes, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra will be visiting local concert halls. Local artists are well represented performing jazz from many eras – perhaps inspired by the local jazz celebrations in April.

On Wednesday, May 3, the Polish Embassy is bringing in jazz pianist Artur Dutkiewicz with his trio. It's a free afternoon concert (3 p.m.) at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park in the Glebe.

Dutkiewicz is a leading jazz musician and composer in Poland; he was a finalist in the first Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 1987. His solo album Mazurkas was influenced by Polish composers Frédéric Chopin and Karol Szymanowski, but also includes other Polish folk motifs, like the oberek and the kujawiak, all in a jazz style. On a different note, he's also released a piano trio album of music by rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, including interpretations of “Crosstown Traffic” and “Voodoo Chile”.

Trumpeter Jacques Kuba Séguin, who has ancestors from Poland and who is prominent in the Montreal jazz scene, will also perform at the show. Séguin's recent Litania Projekt marries “neoclassical melodies with Northern European jazz and subtle electronics”.

Read more: Ottawa-Gatineau May jazz highlights: From Poland to pool bottom


The Courage 4: different instruments, well-loved standards (video)

Courage4 in rehearsal: Mike Essoudry, Martine Courage, Rob Frayne, Laura Nerenberg ©2017 Brett Delmage

The Courage4 plays jazz standards – but not with your typical instrumentation.

Pianist and vocalist Martine Courage leads the group, which also includes Rob Frayne on tenor sax and Fender bass, Mike Essoudry on drums – and Laura Nerenberg on violin. They play their own arrangements in an atmospheric, grooving style: not like your typical jazz quartet.

“It's not a pop band, it's not a jazz band, but it's somewhere in the middle. But it's jazzy in the process,” says Frayne.

Courage met Nerenberg at the JazzWorks jazz camp in 2001, and played with her at local jams, and liked the sound. “The idea of having a unique jazz sound, a unique instrument to jazz, which to me is the violin, was a compelling idea for me, so I thought it would be great to have Laura in on this idea. It definitely worked really nicely.”

Nerenberg grew up listening to her father play jazz standards, but in her own career went strictly to classical. But then it occurred to her that it might be fun to improvise. In the video below, she explains how she got into jazz and “didn't look back”.

Watch the video of the group at their latest rehearsal, with them playing “What is This Thing Called Love?”, and including interviews by Brett Delmage with Courage, Frayne, and Nerenberg.

   – Brett Delmage

The Courage4 will perform at the GigSpace Jazz MicroFest at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. Tickets for their 40-minute show are $10, and can be bought on-line, or in person at Alcorn Music Studios, or by calling 613-729-0693. GigSpace is located within Alcorn Music Studios at 953 Gladstone Avenue, beside the O-Train tracks and one long block west of Preston Avenue. OC Transpo route 14 stops in front, and route 85 stops nearby on Preston Avenue.

Watch the Inside the Scene video story


Modasaurus' collective creation multiplies the meanings in its music

With Modasaurus, it's never just one thing.

The Ottawa jazz group – pianist James McGowan, guitarist Alex Moxon, bassist J.P. Lapensée, and drummer Jamie Holmes – makes a point of fusing different musical traditions together in their music. Even their name, “Modasaurus”, has multiple meanings.

James McGowan: 'Our goal is to explore and not be limited to a style or rooted in a style, but expand out and just totally challenge ourselves to find the fusion in things that don't necessarily typically find themselves getting fused.' ©Brett Delmage, 2016“Our goal is to explore and not be limited to a style or rooted in a style, but expand out and just totally challenge ourselves to find the fusion in things that don't necessarily typically find themselves getting fused,” McGowan told this week. They'll demonstrate how that can be done in their show at the GigSpace Jazz MicroFest on Friday, April 28.

The quartet has “a funky sound, like a jazz core sound, and with that basic sound we're looking at going into other realms. Sometimes it's bluesy, sometimes it explores other traditions: Latin, Middle Eastern. Different sonic environments. Each piece has its own identity but the challenge and the joy of the project is routing all that into a jazz fusion sound that we've been cultivating.”

He emphasized this wasn't in particular rooted in the jazz-rock fusion sound made popular in the 1970s, “but more in the idea of the more broad sense of fusion, always looking to expand and integrate other sounds.”

They'll likely introduce two new pieces at GigSpace, McGowan said. One of these incorporates a North Indian (Hindustani) classical sound – a new source for the group. They'll also be playing music they've recorded for the group's upcoming debut album.

The four started playing together in early 2016, and have performed at various venues: GigSpace, Brookstreet, and shows in local churches. Their original connection was through Carleton University, where McGowan has been a professor of music since 2010, with a background in classical and choral music and contemporary improvisation.

Read more: Modasaurus' collective creation multiplies the meanings in its music


Tariq Amery captures his love affair with live music in his debut CD

Tariq Amery allowed the 7 other musicians on his debut CD to express their own voices - just like in the live performances he loves ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Go to a live jazz show or jam in Ottawa in the last few years, and there's a good chance you would see Tariq Amery. If he wasn't joining in on flute or tenor sax, he'd be listening intently and with obvious enjoyment.

Live music is his passion – for as many as 15 shows a week.

But now the young jazz musician with the big grin is moving outwards. He's releasing his debut CD, and he's looking at jazz scenes outside Ottawa, including possibly studying in Europe.

On Friday, April 21, Amery will release the CD at his own show at the Avant-Garde Bar. It's an atmospheric blend of voices and textures, in styles ranging from ballads to Wayne Shorter-style experimental modern jazz to Latin. He wrote most of the compositions on it last October, and recorded it in sessions in November and December.

It was an ambitious project, involving eight musicians from Ottawa and Montreal. Amery's soaring flute is an important part of the mix, but so is Daniel Ko's fierce saxophone, Ed Lister's powerful trumpet, Clayton Connell's electric piano, and Will O'Neill's fluent guitar. Vovo Saramanda drives the music with energetic Brazilian-style percussion along with Michel Delage on drums and J.P. Lapensée on bass.

Each of these musicians has a strong individual voice, and Amery's philosophy with the CD was to give them the room to express that. “I mean it when I say I wasn’t projecting anything onto the project. I really wanted it to be what it was.”

“I think the big thing for me was leaving it really open for other people to be themselves. I didn’t try to force any specific ideas. I had a general outline of what I wanted it to be, and then I was just like, ‘You guys do your thing and we’ll see of what we can make of this.’ ”

“I would throw things out there but nothing specific enough to make it obvious what to play. I was really letting the music ask for what it wanted.”

The CD is called Indefinity, a word which Amery created by gluing together “indefinite” and “infinity”. It turns out that word is also in the dictionary, meaning “being vague and poorly defined” – which isn't far off what he was aiming at.

Read more: Tariq Amery captures his love affair with live music in his debut CD


More April jazz, leading up to International Jazz Day

April culminates in International Jazz Day on the 30th – and there's many opportunities to hear local, Canadian, and American jazz artists in the last two weeks of the month, leading up to that day.

Chris Maskell  ©2015 Brett DelmageIf you're a lark instead of an owl, you have an alternate location and time to hear the Cynthia Tauro Quartet this month. Besides being the host band at Le Petit Chicago, they're also presenting a show at Pressed in Centretown on Thursday, April 20. The quartet will again be performing Tauro's original tunes as well as jazz standarWildCds, Latin standards, and various pop covers.

Also on the bill at Pressed is Fox Club, a new Montreal trio with Ottawa ex-pat saxophonist Chris Maskell along with bassist Jonny Chapman and drummer Aaron Dolman. Fox Club is a chordless trio which explores “creative original music and covers that make use of electronic instruments, improvisation and feel-good grooves”.

The JazzWorks monthly jam will shortly be on the move again. JazzWorks says that Thursday, April 20 will be its last time at the Georgetown Pub, because the location is being taken over by new owners. The host band for the final Georgetown evening will be fronted by vocalist Patricia Balfour – her first time leading a JazzWorks host band. Balfour says they'll be presenting “an eclectic mix of bright and cheery and slow and torchy, including a groovy bass-and-voice-only version of 'Feelin' Groovy', fast-paced scat tunes by Billy Eckstine and Thelonious Monk, and Mark Ferguson and Renée Yoxon's lively 'There's Only You' ”. is made possible by reader donations. We'd like to thank Riek van den Berg and Mike Steinberg for their donations which enabled us to research and report these April highlights. Read the first part of this April highlights story here.

An Ottawa home-town folk favourite will have his songs shaken out and given a jazz gloss on Friday, April 21. Singer-songwriter Jim Bryson will perform with saxophonist Petr Cancura as part of Cancura's jazz-roots Crossroads series – along with the house band of Roddy Ellias, John Geggie, and Greg Ritchie. Cancura has been working with Bryson to select and rearrange his or her material to work with the jazz quartet for the concert.

Read more: More April jazz, leading up to International Jazz Day


“I've never seen musical borders”: Adam Saikaley unveils his jazz trio music

Ottawa pianist Adam Saikaley is a musical Renaissance man. Adept at playing hip-hop, reggae, punk, pop, and jazz, he's also worked as a DJ, and as a classical music producer on CBC Radio. In the jazz sphere, he's led tributes to his favourite Miles Davis albums, played 60s and 70s jazz with his quartet, and performed free jazz with local improvisers.

Adam Saikaley's jazz trio will perform at the GigSpace Jazz MicroFest on Saturday, April 29 ©Brett Delmage, 2015

His newest project is a jazz piano trio with bassist Alex Bilodeau and drummer Michel Delage. But don't think Oscar Peterson: Saikaley's music, while definitely melodic, is influenced by avant-garde pianists like Cecil Taylor and Kris Davis. On April 1, the trio was the opening act for the JUNOfest jazz showcase at Live! on Elgin, the only local group to join the JUNO nominees in that showcase. Their rendition of Saikaley's dynamically-rich original compositions evoked warm applause from the audience.

Their next concert outing will be at GigSpace's Jazz MicroFest, where they'll open the Saturday evening concerts on April 29. They also play at Bar Robo on the last Wednesday of each month.

When editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Saikaley on the morning of Monday, April 3, he and the trio had had a very busy weekend. Saturday was their JUNOfest show, and the next day, they recorded their first album.

We began by talking about Saikaley's love for real pianos, whose sound he loves and which he doesn't get to play on often enough at shows, although he has one at home. At JUNOfest and at the recording session, he played Steinway pianos; at GigSpace, he'll have a Yamaha to stretch out on. And having a piano to play on does make a real difference to the sound, he contends.

This is a lightly edited version of our conversation.'s reporting is made possible by reader donations. Thanks to Barry Cooper whose support helped make this interview possible.

Read more: “I've never seen musical borders”: Adam Saikaley unveils his jazz trio music


Audience enjoys new look at Canadian jazz with trombone

Nicholas Adema Quintet: Music from Famous Canadian Trombonists
St. Luke's Anglican Church
Sunday, April 9, 2017 – 7:30 p.m.

Nicholas Adema celebrated music by Canadian trombonists at his special concert  ©Brett Delmage, 2017

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

It was a night for the trombone on Sunday as Nicholas Adema brought together three Ottawa musicians and one Toronto musician to play compositions by well-known Canadian trombonists.

And it sparked a definite interest. In his introduction, the St. Luke's Church music series coordinator stated that the show had attracted one of their largest audiences. The 17-year-old trombonist, composer, arranger, and senior high school student had been working for the last year to organize it.

The set list included numbers by Rob McConnell (from the Boss Brass), Ian McDougall, and Terry Promane, plus several numbers by local composer Mark Ferguson. Ferguson was also on the bandstand, but playing piano, not trombone. Bassist Alex Bilodeau and drummer Michel Delage provided a flexible but driving rhythm section (and several emphatic solos).

Adema also included several of his own compositions, including “Samba Not So Samba” which he had also performed recently with the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra, but in a quite different arrangement with more room for trombone. Trumpeter Kaelin Murphy, who is currently studying at the University of Toronto, contributed a particularly fine flugelhorn finale to the ballad Adema had written in honour of Ferguson, “M.F.”.

Read more: Audience enjoys new look at Canadian jazz with trombone


Cynthia Tauro: 1st woman to host Jazz Mondays at Petit Chicago

In April, pianist Cynthia Tauro and her quartet is hosting the late-night Jazz Monday jam sessions. It's the culmination for her of many years enjoying the music at those jams.

The Cynthia Tauro Quartet will host Jazz Mondays at Le Petit Chicago for all of April: (l-r) Cynthia Tauro, Alex Moxon, Alex Bilodeau, Michel Delage ©Brett Delmage, 2017

She's the first woman leader of a host band at Jazz Mondays in its 12-year history at Le Petit Chicago. checked its archived event listings, and while we found other women who had played on that stage on Mondays, Tauro was the first to lead a group.

She's playing with three musicians who frequently appear at this jam: guitarist Alex Moxon, drummer Michel Delage, and bassist Alex Bilodeau. Bilodeau also coordinates Jazz Mondays. At their first show on April 3, they performed Tauro's own original songs in the first set, ranging from Latin numbers to soulful to romantic to grooving. Tauro both sang and played keyboards, with the rhythm section providing a strong jazz propulsion filling the downtown Gatineau club. As usual, they opened the second set to jammers.

Tauro graduated in 2016 with a degree in jazz piano and voice from Carleton University. Originally from Toronto, she's now living in Ottawa and performing in venues across the city. editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Tauro between sets at Le Petit Chicago on April 3.

Read more: Cynthia Tauro: 1st woman to host Jazz Mondays at Petit Chicago


Nicholas Adema dedicates a concert to Canadian trombonists (video)

Nicholas Adema with the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra ©2017 Brett Delmage

The Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra presented their third concert of this season on Sunday, April 2 at Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University. The band’s strong lineup, which included members who have played in CYJO for several years, hit the right notes – and rhythms – on a variety of tough Latin tunes.

A surprise composer stepped forward mid-concert to present his own composition. Nicholas Adema is the orchestra's 17-year-old second trombonist and is also active in Nepean All City Jazz Band (NACJB). He led the orchestra and soloed in his own composition “Samba not so Samba”.

He’s been working on his own very special concert, as a personal high school graduation project and a signficant step in his early professional music career. It’s been a marathon. Adema booked the venue almost one year ago, then started transcribing music last summer, followed by rehearsing and putting a band together.

On Sunday, the Nicholas Adema Quintet will perform “exciting jazz music from famous Canadian trombonists that you probably have never heard before.” Adema will include some of his own compositions as well as those by Ottawa composer and trombonist/pianist Mark Ferguson.

   – Brett Delmage

The Nicholas Adema Quintet (with Nicholas Adema, Mark Ferguson, Alex Bilodeau, Michel Delage, and Kaelin Murphy) will perform at St. Luke's Church, 760 Somerset West (in Chinatown, at Bell Street just west of Bronson Avenue) on Sunday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is pay what you can.

Watch the Inside the Scene video story


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