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Jesse Stewart brings the audience into his D.O.M.E at Electric Fields

Jesse Stewart played with drumset and lasers in his DOME at Electric Fields just after dark on Thursday, October 11, 2012 ©Brett DelmageOttawa percussionist, visual artist, jazz musician and Juno award winner Jesse Stewart drew an eager and curious audience into his D.O.M.E (Dynamics of Musical Exploration) outside Arts Court on Thursday evening. Listeners were treated to a forty-minute solo percussion and waterphone concert with laser beams visually modulated by his clear drumset, cymbals, and waterphone and projected onto the walls of the dome. It was an acoustically and visually immersive experience – although perhaps not as immersive as when Stewart played this drumset just above the water of the Plant Bath pool last year, with some listeners enjoying the concert in the pool's water.

The concert was part of the Electric Fields and Mini-Maker Faire festival which continues until Sunday, presenting new ideas and new artworks. On Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Arts Court Theatre, Stewart will participate in the panel discussion "How does space shape sound?"

    – Brett Delmage

All photos ©Brett Delmage, 2012


Last opportunity to hear pianist Nick Maclean

Nick Maclean at the Saturday afternoon jazz jam at Pressed, on August 18.  ©Brett Delmage, 2012Tonight will be one of your very last opportunities to hear pianist Nick Maclean in Ottawa for a while. Maclean is heading back shortly to Toronto for his last year at Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts.

He'll play with his new group, Notes in Triplicate, which includes Ottawa musicians Nathan Corr and Rick Pearlman. at Pressed. Last Saturday, the group gave a one-song preview of tonight's music, playing one of Nick's songs at the afternoon jazz jam at Pressed.


Carleton U Jazz Camp goes batty presenting a quartet of duos

Kelly Jefferson pedals his sax with Ted Warren  ©Brett Delmage, 2012

View photos of this concert

Duos Night
Carleton University Jazz Camp
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Kailash Mital Theatre
Carleton University

The first evening concert at the Carleton University Jazz Camp attracted an unexpected fan.

Shortly after Elise Letourneau played her first few phrases on flute, something flashed by over the heads of the audience. And swooped, and turned, and jetted repeatedly around the upper reaches of the stage and the hall – thoroughly puzzling and then amusing the audience, who really weren't sure what it was or where it was going.

It turned out to be a bat, which had entered sometime earlier through an open door and may have been woken by the flute ultrasonics – and unfortunately it wasn't really keeping time to the music. But Letourneau and guitarist Tim Bedner continued on with aplomb, playing three vocal standards in a non-standard way, adding frequent fluid flute interludes to the first, and giving the last two an absorbing up-tempo interpretation marked by fluent scatting.

Ticketless, the bat was eventually escorted out, and, for the remainder of the evening, the audience could concentrate on the stage.

Read more: Carleton U Jazz Camp goes batty presenting a quartet of duos


Trumpets, Trumpets at IMOO

Ellwood Epps  ©Brett Delmage, 2012

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The IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) series was home to highly approachable soundscapes on Sunday, August 5, in a series of solo and then a duo performances by trumpeters Craig Pedersen (Ottawa) and Ellwood Epps (Montreal).

Long, swirling passages, soothing yet intense, predominated, although there was also more punctuated and up-tempo material – but more on the harmonic rather than the atonal side. Pedersen noted later that the long held tones which he had performed for Chamber Elements twice that weekend may have had a subconscious effect.

In the Question and Answer session at the end, the musicians and audience had engaging discussion about circular breathing and split-tone multiphonics – continuing the recent IMOO tradition of explanations to make the music more accessible.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read more: Trumpets, Trumpets at IMOO


Thomson, Hood, and Stewart: Poetry in motion at IMOO

Susanna Hood dances to the improvisations of Scott Thomson (trombone) and Jesse Stewart (drums)   ©Brett Delmage, 2012

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Jazz is movement. Watching a group on stage, you'll often see the performers swaying to the music, nodding their heads, tapping their fingers, interpreting the music physically, even when not playing their instrument.

Susanna Hood took it to the next step as she interpreted music through dance at a performance on June 10 in the IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) series at the Umi Café, as well as providing vocals. She performed with trombonist Scott Thomson, and (for the second set) Ottawa drummer and percussionist Jesse Stewart.

In the first set, Thomson and Hood performed a suite of Thomson's songs based on poems by P.K. Page. In the second set, all three improvised.

Hood is an award-winning choreographer and dance artist, as well as an improvising and interpretive vocalist. She and Thomson both play in The Rent (with Nick Fraser, Kyle Brenders, and Wes Neal), originally a Steve Lacy repertory project but now dedicated to playing Thomson’s songs too.  They also play together in Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read more: Thomson, Hood, and Stewart: Poetry in motion at IMOO


Rachel Therrien develops new sounds at IMOO

Rachel Therrien develops a new sound from her trumpet mute at IMOO.   ©Brett Delmage, 2012

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Montreal trumpeter Rachel Therrien and Ottawa vocalist and IMOO co-coordinator Renée Yoxon first met and played together at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music this spring.

So when Therrien was invited to bring her quintet to the Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer this Saturday, it was natural for her to stay over an extra day and play at IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais)  – but in a very different, free jazz style from Saturday.

The IMOO performance also featured bassist Marino Vazquez, who was visiting from Mexico and had just recently met Therrien in Montreal. Besides bass, he sang and played percussion and the traditional small Mexican guitar.

The first set started with a completely improvised piece featuring Therrien on trumpet and Vazquez on percussion (including crumpled newspaper and flipped notebook). It was followed by a free jazz piece ("The Seven Movements of a Day's Journey") which Therrien had composed eight years but had never played publicly, which used muted trumpet to produce sounds that ranged from breathy to klaxon, with added vocalese.

Renée Yoxon joined in for the second set, for her very first totally improvised jazz performance. In the first piece, while Yoxon sang improvised wordless vocalese, Therrien sang through her trumpet mute. They ended with a piece which Therrien had composed at Banff: "A Mountain", with a graphic rather than a traditional score. At Banff, it was played by 13 musicians, including four vocalists but no trumpet: here it was interpreted on voice, trumpet, percussion, and bass.

At the end, the musicians continued a new IMOO tradition: a short question and answer session where they explained their backgrounds, the graphic score they used, and some of the pieces they had performed.

Therrien was nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award at this year's Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, and her quintet played an evening concert on one of the festival's main outdoor stages.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read more: Rachel Therrien develops new sounds at IMOO


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