Wednesday, October 07, 2015
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Music in Motion: The Miguel de Armas Latin Jazz Quartet

 ©Brett Delmage, 2015

There's a physical excitement and vibrancy to Afro-Cuban jazz that transcends cultural and language barriers.

You can see that when Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas and his Latin Jazz Quartet perform, and even more in the full scale Afro-Cuban celebration that he's hosting at Shenkman Arts Centre on Saturday - which includes dancers. was at the quartet's regular monthly show at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge this month, when they were joined by several of the guest musicians – Caridad Cruz on vocals, Roberto Jerez on violin, Alejandro Vega on guitar – who will also perform at Saturday's celebration at Shenkman Arts Centre.

View photos of the September 4 Brookstreet show

Read more: Music in Motion: The Miguel de Armas Latin Jazz Quartet


A happy, bumpin' beat at the Elmdale

March 29 is the final day to hear organist Don Cummings and drummer Mike Essoudry's Bumpin' Binary duo at the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern ©2015 Brett DelmageEach Sunday afternoon in March, drummer Mike Essoudry and organist Don Cummings have brought their Bumpin' Binary duo to the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern in Hintonburg.

When walked over to see them on March 14, the room was almost full with a crowd clearly listening to the infectious mixture of jazz and R&B. Another attraction – particularly for the younger crowd and those more technologically inclined – was the intricate wiring on the back of Cummings' Hammond organ, which was facing the crowd.

The duo's last show is this Sunday, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., with special guest Tony Diteodoro on guitar, The Elmdale will continue late afternoon shows on Sundays this spring, with different groups each being showcased for a month. Subscribe to's weekly newsletter to get advance details about jazz-related shows.

   – Alayne McGregor

Photo: March 29 is the final day to hear organist Don Cummings and drummer Mike Essoudry's Bumpin' Binary duo at the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern ©2015 Brett Delmage


Rake-star and hats to make a second orbit at Mugshots tonight

David Broscoe ©Brett Delmage, 2015Ottawa's Rake-star Arkestra brought the musical energy and extra-terrestrial feeling of Sun Ra to the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) concert on January 15. The seven musicians that comprised the arkestra that evening delivered a highly improvised set that had the audience smiling and frequently laughing with them at their fresh musical creations.  The concert included a Sun Ra composition, Moog synthesizer, and an essential, but quieter, set of hats.

They're making a second orbit tonight at Mugshots (8:30 p.m. 75 Nicholas Street - the old jail hostel). Their full planetary system will include John Sobol (baritone sax, tenor sax), Jamie Gullikson (drum set, percussion), and Don Cumming's full size Hammond organ. Come prepared for "a spirited, raucous and occasionally beautiful time."

View photos from this concert

    – Brett Delmage

See also: Rake-star aims for the sublime, and sometimes the chaotic, in Sun Ra's music

View the photos


Jazz Scene: Jazz Heard! celebrates 5 years, with a photo exhibit

The 'Jazz Scene: Jazz Heard!' exhibit: Just like any performance, you'll have to attend in person to fully appreciate it is 5 years old on July 3! We're celebrating this milestone with a special photographic print exhibition of the Ottawa-Gatineau and Canadian jazz scene.

Originating in my work as's photojournalist, Jazz Scene: Jazz Heard!  speaks about the connections between listeners and musicians, photographed over the past decade.

The exhibit includes images made in many different locations, outside and inside, in small cafés and giant halls, mid-day and late at night, at festivals and one-time concerts.

There's something special about making an archival-quality, fine art photographic print to hang on a wall. As the famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams stated, “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”

Making my digital image is an essential first step in the public performance of my art, but it's only the beginning. The printing process provides opportunity to shape my digital score by cropping, and tonal and chromatic adjustments in subtle ways, and to select a paper that supports the image.

Read more: Jazz Scene: Jazz Heard! celebrates 5 years, with a photo exhibit


Jesse Stewart brings 'Memories of Ice' to free Winterlude shows

Jesse Stewart opened the 2014 Winterlude with music made on his Reactable using recordings of ice instruments ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Ottawa musical improviser, visual artist, found sound artist, and Juno award-winning jazz musician Jesse Stewart launched Winterlude last Friday with its first live performance, "Memories of Ice".

Recorded fragments from ice instruments he built and played at Winterlude in 2011 were combined with live performance on an icy-looking drumset, and his new, electronic instrument that was front-and-centre: the "Reactable". The projection from his manipulation of the Reactable and sound from the performance kept the attentive Confederation Park audience pretty well frozen during the twenty-minute performance, despite the relatively balmy temperature of -9C.

You can catch versions of this improvised performance again at 8 p.m. (20h) this Friday and Saturday (February 7, 8) and again next weekend on February 14, 15 at the Winterlude Confederation Park Stage. It's in the same location as the summer Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage. All performances are free as part of the Winterlude Festival.

Jesse Stewart has some notable (and warmer!) concerts coming up in the next while too. On February 28 he will perform with Jane Bunnett, Roddy Ellias, and John Geggie at GigSpace. On March 14, he will perform as part of the Sonoluminescence Trio with  William Parker and David Mott, also at GigSpace.

   – Brett Delmage

Full disclosure: Jesse Stewart has licensed photos and videos produced independently by for our own editorial needs.

All photos © Brett Delmage, 2014

View more photos


Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio melds Balkan rhythms and jazz

View photos of the performance and jam

Swirling lines, frenetic melodies, bright rhythms: all those were part of the very different sound of Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio at Le Petit Chicago on December 30.

Mike Essoudry, Linsey Wellman, and Joe Hincke (l-r) communicated the fun of their music to the audience at Le Petit Chicago. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

Wellman – together with drummer Mike Essoudry and bassist Joe Hincke – has melded the folk melodies and styles of the Balkans with the klezmer/free jazz style of John Zorn's Masada to create fast-paced and energetic music. The nearest comparison? In Ottawa it would be the Mash Potato Mashers – which Essoudry leads and Wellman plays in – although that is more marching band music.

Combined with the group's original compositions (with titles like “The Trickle Down Doesn't Get Very Far” and “Below the Poverty Line”), it was an intense set list that kept the crowd at the Gatineau bar primarily listening and applauding appreciatively.

Essoudry changed his drum kit for the set, replacing his regular snare and tom with higher-pitched versions, substituting a greater number of smaller cymbals for normal large ones, and adding a tambourine on top of his hi-hat – all of which created a sound quite different from his usual jazz style. Wellman on alto sax and Hincke on bass also reflected very different Balkan rhythms in their playing.

Read more: Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio melds Balkan rhythms and jazz


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