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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 OttawaJazzScene.ca for our own editorial needs.

All photos © Brett Delmage, 2014

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

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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

 

Gaby Warren hosts a baker's dozen of Christmas jazz jams

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It was thirteen years lucky on December 19, as vocalist Gaby Warren again led his group to host the annual pre-Christmas JazzWorks jam at the Carleton Tavern.

Gaby Warren again led his group to host the annual pre-Christmas JazzWorks jam for the thirteenth time this year. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

It's a tradition for Warren to bring his favourite local jazz musicians – Rob Frayne on Nord organ, Linsey Wellman on alto sax, Alrick Huebener on bass, Mike Essoudry on drums – together at the December jam to play his favourite jazz classics. This year, they were joined by guitarist Garry Elliott, and were dubbed (the ever-changing group name is another tradition) “Ana's Santas”. That was in honour of Warren's wife, Ana, who celebrated a very significant birthday the day before.

The repertoire was more jazz than Christmas, starting with John Coltrane's “Equinox”, continuing through “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” from the little-known musical The Nervous Set; and ending with “Bacchanal” by Kenny Barron.

This year, Warren released his first CD as leader, and included two songs in this set-list for which he wrote the lyrics: Sam Rivers' “Beatrice”, and Miles Davis' “Nardis”. The latter was recorded but eventually had to be left off the album because he couldn't get permission from Davis' estate.

But the music did turn Christmas-y for one song: “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, for which Warren put on a knitted hat which was an amazing example of Christmas kitsch. It had not only a red Santa hat, but also a 3D snowman section with black eyes and carrot nose, and long earflaps ending in small Christmas balls!

Wellman and Elliott in particular had a chance to shine with several melodic and vehement solos, but all the musicians added to the fine post-bop collaboration.Warren did occasionally have to ask the audience to tone down its conversations so that the group's musical artistry could be fully heard and appreciated.

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Santa sits in for jazz and Christmas tunes

Santa Claus, Jarrod Goldsmith and Sandy Gordon jam at the Rideau Centre ©Brett Delmage, 2013

Santa sat in with Sax Appeal at the Rideau Centre briefly on Saturday. Jarrod Goldsmith and Sandy Gordon played jazz standards and Christmas tunes to the delight of frantic shoppers and even one aspiring young dancer.

    – Brett Delmage


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The Adrian Matte Quartet heated up AlphaSoul on a frosty night

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It was a frosty Friday outside, but the Adrian Matte Quartet easily heated up the AlphaSoul Café with instrumental jazz on December 13 – for their second-last show before the café closes. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

The medium-sized audience, which included both long-time jazz fans and some newer listeners, was intent and appreciative, as the quartet performed three sets of standards.The musicians, listeners, and staff laughed together and chatted during the breaks, for a comfortable, easy-going ambiance.

The numbers were generally from the 50s and 60s, including Sonny Rollins' “Doxy”, and an extended and bright treatment of “Sunny”. Their quiet and intense version of the bossa nova tune “Corcovado” ended with a vibrating shimmer, as all four musicians played in unison.

It was an evening of swinging and well-modulated music, propelled by Ted Zarras on drums and Mark Fraser on bass, and with Alex Moxon on guitar and Matte on tenor sax providing strong melodic lines separately and together. They ended with “Think of One” by Thelonious Monk, its complicated interactions giving lots of room for all the musicians to shine, and for the audience to get energized for the frigid trip home.

The Adrian Matte Quartet will perform its last jazz evening at the AlphaSoul Cafe on Friday, December 20.

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CYJO brings a century of music to life in first 2013-14 concert

Myles Pelley (above, Tariq Amery below) brings tuba to the CYJO for the first time this year  ©Brett Delmage, 2013

The Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) brought to life more than a century of music in their first concert of the 2013-14 season.

For the December 8 concert, band director Nick Dyson chose a set list which ranged from 1888 to the modern day, comfortably mixing modern composers like Lennie Niehaus with jazz icons like Charlie Parker and Freddie Hubbard.

The two oldest pieces performed by the student big band were “I Ain't Got Nobody”, which dates back to 1915, and “Anitra's Dance” from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, which was originally premiered in 1888.

But the band closed the concert with a very modern piece: “That's How We Roll”, written by Gordon Goodwin for his Big Phat Band and released in 2011.

The concert, which was enthusiastically received by the audience, allowed all the different sections of the band to shine in both upbeat and more measured numbers. Two slower numbers particularly stood out: the blues-tinged “A Minor Affair” by Sammy Nestico, and “Lil' Darlin'”, made famous by the Count Basie band, with its languorous tempo. Dyson described it as the hardest piece in the big band repertoire to play because it is so deliberately slow.

The concert was held in the Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University, where the orchestra and audience were treated to the highly supportive lighting and sound provided by the theatre's enthusiastic, professional technical crew. Carleton University's music department supports CYJO by providing space for CYJO's rehearsals and performances.

More than half of CYJO's 17 student musicians are new this year, as many former members moved to study music in other cities. However, one new member, Myles Pelley, is a tuba player – a first for the band.

CYJO draws its members from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, and several local high schools. Its next concert will be held in February: the exact date and program have yet to be announced.

    – Alayne McGregor

Subscribe to OttawaJazzScene.ca's RSS feed for information about CYJO's upcoming concerts, or even better, subscribe to JazzScene, our free events newsletter, to win free concert tickets and receive a weekly reminder about jazz and improvised events and news you won't want to miss.

View photos from this concert

   

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