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Boys Night Out - accomplished!

A full and attentive house at the Shanghai Restaurant on Friday, June 15, heard Peter Liu and Floyd Hutchinson present their first formal performance as a duo. Backed by a trio of experienced Ottawa jazz musicians who not only knew but clearly loved the music, the two vocalists alternated songs, as well as performing two duets in each of the three sets.

The singers may have described "Summertime" as a chestnut, but they gave it a modern, rhythmic rendition, almost talking the lyrics in some places. Also notable were their bluesy rendition of their closing duet, "'Round Midnight", Liu's swinging "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and Hutchinson's heartfelt "Come Love". Tom Denison's melodic bass solos, Art Lawless's sparkling and sensitive piano, and Glenn Robb's careful touch on drums accented the music.

And at the end, Hutchinson announced "Boys Night Out - accomplished!" and Liu added, "We graduated!"

    – Alayne McGregor

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Glebop, listeners welcome a Latin vibe to the Arrow and Loon

Miguel Angel de Armas     ©Brett Delmage, 2012

It was a packed and pleased house Sunday night, as Glebop welcomed four new players to its monthly gig at the Arrow and Loon. The basic sound was swinging standards, but with a strong Latin vibe added by pianist Miguel Angel de Armas (a recent addition to the local jazz scene but with a long, stellar career in Cuba), and Cuban drummer/percussionist Arien Villegas.

While bassist Howard Tweddle has been part of the scene for decades, the remaining two musicians - singer Natasha Shannon and saxophonist Adam Gillespie - have not been heard much in Ottawa yet. But Shannon said the quintet would be back playing together later this year.

    – Alayne McGregor

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James Annett brings improvised viola to IMOO

James Annett     ©Brett Delmage, 2012

Improvising violinist James Annett returned to Ottawa from Montreal on April 15 to treat keen IMOO listeners to improvised viola.

He was joined by IMOO regulars and co-founders Craig Pedersen on trumpet and piccolo trumpet and Linsey Wellman on alto sax and flute, plus percussionist Jamie Gullikson. All three were inspired by Annett to try some acoustic tricks of their own, as well as complementing the viola. Gullikson included some interestingly-modified cymbals in his drumset with produced some unexpected sounds.

The quartet took the audience on a two-set musical journey that encompassed an exceptionally large dynamic range, pairings of different players, and improvisations that ranged from dissonant to harmonious. The pieces had beautiful beginnings and endings that sometimes surprised not only the listeners but also the players.

    – Brett Delmage

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The World Premiere of Dynergetics at Ottawa Winterlude

At the 2011 Winterlude opening ceremonies at the Museum of Civilization, Jesse Stewart presented a musical piece  inspired by the principles of "yin and yang" in Chinese philosophy. The resulting piece, "Dynergetics," was performed by Stewart and percussionist Johannes Welsch at -20C. The 11-minute performance  featured gongs, ice marimbas, pyrophones, glass flute and two ice-like drum sets.


Full house, intent listeners greet Titanium Trio

Lina Allemano   ©Brett Delmage, 2012It was a question of names – and numbers – when the Titanium Trio played in Ottawa on Sunday, January 22.

Toronto trumpeter Lina Allemano had composed all the material for the group – which also includes drummer Nick Fraser (originally from Ottawa) and bassist Rob Clutton – in one celebratory gulp last spring, but she hadn't originally given the pieces any individual names. For a while, she was referring to them as #1 to #10 (the equivalent of a classical composer having concertos 1 to 10), although she eventually named about half.

But for most of this show, the titles didn't give the audience much of a hint of what to expect. The first set, for example, consisted of #2, #4, #7 (aka Bagpipe), and #3.

What the audience actually heard was a tight collaboration among all three players. There was a considerable dynamic range: Clutton's Fender electric bass provided a warm, strong underlayer, from he which he regularly emerged with intricate but understated rhythmic patterns.

Allemano and Fraser provided a constantly varying and interesting dialogue on top. Fraser's drumming moved from the lightest touches with brushes on cymbals, to staccato and fierce. Allemano's trumpet curlicued, called out, moved from intense fast riffs to slow, full lines, and even echoed a Mingus piece at one point.

The overall mood was introspective and almost elegiac, but each piece included a large portion of improvisation and innovation. The musicians occasionally even surprised themselves when they came to a somewhat unexpectedly fast ending on a couple pieces, or restarted in another direction.

At several points, Allemano used a 1930s-style bucket mute to achieve a particularly sonorous, warm sound unlike that created by a regular mute. And then she went one step further near the end, using a soft drink can (filled with small rattling pieces) as a mute to create an interestingly breathy sound.

The audience appear to follow along smoothly with the musicians, listening intently to the music, and responding with warm applause at the end. The concert was part of the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) series, and attracted some Ottawa jazz fans who had not attended IMOO concerts before.

    – Alayne McGregor

See also: The Titanium Trio: a different sound each time

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SSS Trio brings youthful energy to January Wednesdays

Daniel Ko plays with the SSS Trio's Sean Duhaime. ©Brett Delmage, 2012The SSS Trio (Sean Duhaime - guitar, Sacha Contant-Nagy - drums, Stefan Ferraro - electric bass) are hosting Wednesday Jazz nights this month at Café Nostalgica.  On January 11, 2012, the trio was joined by saxophonist Daniel Ko, on his Christmas break from Berklee.  The hard-working group filled the evening with with music ranging from jazz standards to Beatles, and a few of Sean's originals. Mid-evening, the In-young Choung Trio played a short set, to give the group a well-deserved break. In-young and Renée Yoxon both joined in on vocals with the SSS Trio as well.

You can catch the SSS Trio on Wednesday nights in January. View our event listing

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