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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'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.

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Diverse concerts sell out to Ottawa audiences

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

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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

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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

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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

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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'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)


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