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Diverse concerts sell out to Ottawa audiences

The Melissa Stylianou Quartet filled GigSpace on November 15. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

View photos of these concerts

The Ottawa jazz scene showed its diversity and enthusiasm on the weekend, as two very different shows – one touring, one local – both filled GigSpace to the door.

On Friday night, Brooklyn (and ex-Toronto) vocalist Melissa Stylianou brought her quartet to Ottawa as part of a three-city mini-tour of Ontario. It was an intimate show of jazz standards, originals, and a few “left-field choices” which connected well with her audience. The overall sound was stunning.

On Saturday, Ottawa master guitarist Roddy Ellias introduced his updated trio, with Thom Gossage on drums joining Adrian Vedady on double bass. They played an uninterrupted 105-minute set which included the material which they will be recording in the next two weeks (and even took advance orders for that CD).

Roddy Ellias, Adrian Vedady, and Thom Gossage played an uninterrupted 105-minute set at GigSpace on November 16 to an appreciative audience. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

Much of the material had been featured at previous trio concerts, but that didn't matter. By the time Ellias had improvised new beginnings to tunes and radically changed arrangements, this was a fresh and fascinating example of guitar trio. Vedady and Ellias played a number of duets demonstrating how their two different tonalities could intersect and compliment each other. Gossage added understated texture in some places, and some surprisingly assertive and unexpected percussion in others which served to highlight the entire trio's music.

There's lots of choice again this week, with the star-studded Bryn Roberts Quartet on Thursday and the Trombone Summit on Saturday at GigSpace. Vocal jazz fans will be torn between the Nylons at Shenkman, and Montreal bossa nova duo bet.e & stef at the Mercury Lounge, both on Thursday. Roberto Lopez brings his highly energetic and original jazz inspired by Afro-Columbia rhythms to downtown Gatineau on Friday (we were very impressed with his concerts in Ottawa and Montreal this summer), and Zola's is broadcasting a concert from New York City featuring noted saxophonist Chris Potter. And there's lots more!

Check our Upcoming shows listings for full details, and subscribe to our free weekly JazzScene newsletter to get a timely reminder of shows you will want to buy tickets to – before they sell out.

    – Alayne McGregor, with files from Brett Delmage

Related reading:

View photos from these concerts


Ensemble SuperMusique takes a chance with IMOO at Club SAW

Martin Tétreault's turntable work put another spin on Ensemble SuperMusique's performance  ©Brett Delmage, 2013

The evening started with the first climax, delivered by Craig Pedersen in a solo trumpet performance. Pedersen then descended into quieter notes: much quieter, sculpted, breathy expressions from his trumpet, which turned up everyone's attention. The limitations of Club SAW became more apparent, as his distinct statement descended below the level of the humming ventilation system for a good blow. And then it was over.

The music couldn't descend from there and it didn't try. After a short break, the main act, Ensemble SuperMusique, took the stage and turned it up again. These key improvisers and composers in Montreal's scene and the two vintage drumsets, a turntable, a wind-up toy, vocal cords, two saxophones, and a trombone, brought a completely complementary sound with a lot of variety to the evening. Jean Derome's "Le Fruit du Hasard" started with rolls of the dice prior to the performance; these inputs to pairs of musicians led them to play from two different compositions while finding ways to piece it all together.

The evening of improvised music featuring Ensemble SuperMusique and trumpeter Craig Pedersen was presented by the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) on Sunday, October 20, 2013 as part of their regular concert series. Ensemble SuperMusique included Danielle Palardy Roger (drums, percussion), Pierre Tanguay (drums, percussion), Jean Derome (sax, toys), Joane Hétu (sax, vocals), Martin Tétreault (turntables), Scott Thomson (trombone).

    – Brett Delmage

View photos from this concert


Whose Solo was it? And whose will it be? (from the vault)

Mark Rehder contemplates the tonal quality of his brass instrument  ©Brett Delmage, 2009

View photos of the first edition of this show

Fun and games, for both the audience and musicians, best describes Ottawa Jazz Orchestra's "Whose solo is it?" shows.

At past shows, the audience voted on musical topics in inventive ways. The musicians then had only a minute or two to get inspired by that topic, and start playing.

But they pulled in their own toys to tell the story musically: funny hats, weird instruments, and unexpected ways to play their own instruments.

The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra has done this show twice before, in 2009 and 2010. Each show was different musically, but both had lots of fun, unexpected music that was worth hearing.

Eight musicians from the Orchestra will be back at the NAC Fourth Stage on Tuesday, October 8 for their third outing. We can't say what they're going to play, but OttawaJazzScene.ca's photos from their first show might give you some hints!

Read more: Whose Solo was it? And whose will it be? (from the vault)


Cool and groovin' - with gelato

Lucas Haneman, Michel Delage, and Marc Decho (l-r) played some cool grooves at Stella Luna Gelato Café Sunday night. ©Brett Delmage, 2013View photos from the show

A gelato café is not the first place you'd check to hear hot jazz – but Stella Luna on Bank Street in Ottawa South has been offering a steadily increasing variety of jazz (and other music) on Sunday evenings. The Ottawa Folklore Centre Jazz Band broke the ice there in 2011, and over the last year more musicians have been showing up to entertain those waiting in line for gelato or sitting enjoying it.

Bassist Marc Decho tried out a new combination at the café on August 25, with guitarist Lucas Haneman and drummer Michel Delage. Despite never having played as a trio before, they easily slipped into a comfortable groove, performing and deconstructing Latin and jazz standards and adding their own improvisations on top. Decho and Haneman clearly had a great time playing off each other, especially when Haneman pulled out his mandolin and they traded fast riffs.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read more: Cool and groovin' - with gelato


Caridad Cruz and Miguel de Armas ignite their audience

Caridad Cruz and pianist Miguel Angel de Armas ©Brett Delmage, 2013View photos from the concert

Singer Caridad Cruz and pianist Miguel Angel de Armas are two Cuban-born musicians who have each considerably enlivened Ottawa's jazz scene in the last few years. Recently they've started performing together occasionally, and their combined energy level gets audiences dancing and clapping.

On a hot, sweaty Monday night in the middle of the July doldrums, they packed the downstairs room at Les Brasseurs du Temps in downtown Gatineau. Their two sets were filled with mostly up-tempo music and a few ballads; Cruz sang eloquently in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, and connected with the audience in a mixture of English and French. De Armas propelled the music; often one song had barely finished before his fingers were dancing into the opening chords of the next.

Read more: Caridad Cruz and Miguel de Armas ignite their audience


Jazz at The Cube

Charley Gordon (trumpet) and Scott Warren (drums) played jazz among the beautiful art in the Cube Gallery. ©Brett Delmage, 2013View photos from the concert

A group of musicians with broad musical experience got together to play jazz-anchored music among the visual art in the Cube Gallery on Sunday, June 2.

Charley Gordon (trumpet and flugelhorn), Vince Halfhide, (guitar and vocals), Scott Warren (drums) and Ann Downey (bass and vocals) have been playing together for ten years, although sometimes with long gaps between concerts.

Their concert's two sets included music from a broad repertoire: original songs by Gordon, and tunes by Hoagy Carmichael, Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits, and Ottawa folk icon Bill Hawkins. The pieces ranged from slow folk-rock ballads, to blues, to jazz standards. The musicians took time to talk about the songs, sometimes with personal or humorous anecdotes.

Read more: Jazz at The Cube


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