Thursday, July 30, 2015
   
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The Drew Jurecka Trio plays swirling rhythms with verve and enthusiasm

Drew Jurecka Trio
Ottawa Chamberfest, Chamberfringe series
Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts, Kildare Room
Friday, July 24, 2015 – 10 p.m.

The Drew Jurecka Trio's bright music was an immediate hit with its Chamberfringe audience Friday night.

The trio's combination of violin, piano, and double bass was a natural for their upbeat repertoire: mostly jazz standards from the last hundred years, combined with a few Jurecka originals. But it was how they played that material – with verve, style, and enthusiasm – that set the concert alight.

Jurecka is a veteran on the Toronto jazz scene, primarily playing violin but also doubling on many other instruments, including clarinet and saxophone. A long-time member of the late Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards, he currently tours with Jill Barber, and leads his own groups like the Hogtown Syncopators and the Hot Jazz String Quartet. He has also backed Diana Krall, Shirley Horn, and Dianne Reeves.

For 85 minutes, the trio – with Mark Kieswetter on piano, and Clark Johnston on double bass – kept their late-night audience not only awake, but clapping enthusiastically after each song and each solo. There were relatively few jazz regulars in attendance, but there was an immediate connection to the music in an audience which ranged from 20-year-olds to seniors.

They opened with the sweet, romantic “Lady, Be Good!” by the Gershwins, which featured swirling violin lines over a dancing beat on piano and bass. It set the tone for the concert: a warm vibe, infectious rhythms, and lots of smooth interplay among the trio.

Read more: The Drew Jurecka Trio plays swirling rhythms with verve and enthusiasm

 

Majestic, beautiful music from Abdullah Ibrahim and the Mukashi Trio (review)

Abdullah Ibrahim “Mukashi” Trio
Studio Series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Studio
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In Ottawa, South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim communicated strictly through his music. During his trio's 90-minute concert on the last night of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, much was said, but not a word was spoken.

The three musicians – Ibrahim on grand piano, Noah Jackson on cello and double bass, and Cleave Guyton on clarinet, flute, and piccolo – performed an uninterrupted flow of music for the entire concert, without announcing any of the pieces. They did, however, have scores in front of them, and Jackson said afterwards that Ibrahim signaled them musically as to which piece he wanted to play next.

The cumulative effect was majestic and beautiful.

The 300-seat NAC Studio was completely sold out, and the audience was already primed – judging by the vehement initial applause – to enjoy the music. But it was also clear that Ibrahim's trio kept the listeners' attention throughout. No one moved, no one left.

Read more: Majestic, beautiful music from Abdullah Ibrahim and the Mukashi Trio (review)

 

The Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: a rich hour of evocative solos & fine ensemble playing (review)

The Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra with Ingrid Jensen
Laurier Avenue Music Stage
Ottawa Jazz Festival
Sunday, June 28, 2015 – 7:30 p.m.

The Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra played for one hour at the Ottawa Jazz Festival Sunday.

It was a very rich hour, filled with evocative solos, fine ensemble playing, and an overall abundant sound.

But when I later read that the 19-piece orchestra had played for nearly two hours at the Vancouver Jazz Festival, that confirmed how curtailed the Ottawa show felt. It was part of the early evening series at the Laurier Avenue Music Stage, where concerts were generally scheduled for only an hour to avoid sound bleed with the Main Stage and to allow time for sound-checking the late-evening shows. That time constraint led to a hurried concert.

The Ottawa show was the last stop on an extended tour which crossed Canada and went down into the U.S. Because the logistics and costs of taking 19 musicians on the road are daunting, it was a milestone for the orchestra. Jensen said the band had played nine shows in the previous two weeks – more than they had in the past five years.

Read more: The Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: a rich hour of evocative solos & fine ensemble playing (review)

 

The Enrico Rava Tribe makes joyous, complex music for a happy audience (review)

Enrico Rava Tribe featuring Gianluca Petrella
Studio Series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Studio
Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 9 p.m.

From the first delicate notes filling the NAC Studio, it was clear that this show was going to be a spectacular pairing. The warm lines from Enrico Rava on flugelhorn and Gianluca Petrella on trombone intertwined into a finely-tuned soundscape.

The 75-year-old Rava, a veteran of Italian jazz, and the 40-year-old Petrella have been performing together since Petrella was 22. That experience showed; they could play intensely in unison, or create complementary melodies, or contrast smooth and frantic lines. And always they were working together to create a joyous experience.

They were also strongly supported by the driving rhythm section of Giovanni Guidi on piano, Gabriele Evangelista on double bass, and Fabrizio Sferra on drums. Guidi, in particular, added to the drama and nuance of every piece. His playing could be sparkling fast, or romantic, or accented with added glissandos; once he twanged the strings inside his grand piano.

Rava didn't announce the names of any of the six pieces played in this concert, or whether they were from any specific album. But they clearly all fit together. They tended towards the dramatic, often beginning quietly and building up to multi-layered behemoths with Petrella's trombone slicing through.

Read more: The Enrico Rava Tribe makes joyous, complex music for a happy audience (review)

 

Too much choir, not enough jazz: A Filetta, Paolo Fresu & Daniele di Bonaventura

A Filetta – Paolo Fresu & Daniele di Bonaventura
Studio Series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Studio
Thursday, June 25, 2015 – 7 p.m.

From the Ottawa Jazz Festival's description, you might have reasonably concluded that this concert was an improvised jazz duet between Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu and bandoneon player Daniele di Bonaventura, with some choral singing in the background.

Not quite.

A Filetta, a six-member a cappella male choir from Corsica, was front and centre on the Studio stage, and took the majority of the concert's time and attention. Fresu and di Bonaventura were primarily accompanying or soloing around their voices, and there were many times when only the choir was heard.

The choir, which formed in 1978, sings in Corsican, with the objective of saving that island's oral patrimony. In 2006, they first performed with Fresu and di Bonaventura. They all released an album together on ECM in 2011: Mistico Mediterraneo.

Read more: Too much choir, not enough jazz: A Filetta, Paolo Fresu & Daniele di Bonaventura

 

Kyle Shepherd plays with unexpected rhythms in his piano trio concert (review)

Kyle Shepherd Trio
Improv Invitational series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Friday, June 26, 2015 – 8 p.m.

The South African pianist Kyle Shepherd, who is not yet 30, has garnered a great deal of attention in his short career – including at this concert, which was completely sold out. The lobby outside the Fourth Stage was a zoo, with many listeners I had not previously seen at jazzfest concerts, including one man in floor-length African tribal dress.

The concert was part of the festival's five-show South Africa NOW! Series, and was introduced by South Africa's High Commissioner to Canada.

Shepherd played selections from his most recent album, Dream State, a double CD featuring his own compositions. He began the concert by sitting on the bench of the piano, carrying a wooden skewer and a long stake with an open loop at one end. He played a single note on the piano and then began creating metallic sounds by tapping the stake – as well as whistling through its top. Throughout, he was applying effects, making it sound as though it were being played underwater. Then he looped the music and started lightly chanting over the result while continuing to tap.

Read more: Kyle Shepherd plays with unexpected rhythms in his piano trio concert (review)

 

Joe McPhee, Jesse Stewart & Nicolas Caloia create music that's out of the ordinary

Jesse Stewart / Nicolas Caloia / Joe McPhee
Improv Invitational series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Saturday, June 20, 2015 – 8 p.m.

The first thing my tablemate said when he sat down in the Fourth Stage was “What, no waterphone?” And, in fact, this concert went back to the basics in terms of instrumentation: Nicolas Caloia simply on double bass, Jesse Stewart just on a standard drumset without extra percussion or waterphone, and Joe McPhee alternating among tenor and soprano sax and pocket trumpet. Unlike many musicians I heard at this year's festival, they used no effects; they played strictly acoustically.

But the sounds they produced with those instruments were anything but ordinary.

All three have a long pedigree in avant-garde jazz and free improv. McPhee (from Poughkeepsie, NY) has performed with European and American masters including Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, and The Thing, as well as in his long-time Trio X with bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen. He's also a conceptual thinker in creative improvisation with his concept of “Po” (process of provocation) music.

Read more: Joe McPhee, Jesse Stewart & Nicolas Caloia create music that's out of the ordinary

 

Jef Neve's dramatic piano compositions enthrall his Ottawa Jazz Festival audience

Jef Neve
Improv Invitational series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Monday, June 29, 2015 – 8 p.m.

Michael Bates' Northern Spy
Great Canadian Jazz
Ottawa Jazz Festival
Confederation Park
Monday, June 29, 2015 – 6:30 p.m.

Jef Neve is a Belgian pianist and composer with considerable credits in both classical and jazz, who has been touring and recording as a jazz artist for more than a dozen years now, including performing with vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher and American singer José James. He had just come from five days of performing in Japan before this show, and afterwards was heading off to Vancouver.

He's a polished performer – musically, in his appearance (three-piece brocade suit), and in his easy rapport with the audience. This was the first time he'd performed in Ottawa, but his demeanour throughout his solo piano show was natural and comfortable.

Neve had to compete with Pink Martini's full house in Confederation Park, so the Fourth Stage looked a bit empty to start but filled in throughout the first half-hour as listeners came in from the 7 p.m. Studio show. At the beginning, almost the entire audience was in the south half of the room, the better to see Neve's hands on the piano keyboard.

His set-list was a mixture of standards and originals, performed with verve but also sensitivity. He started by playing thunderously on the strings inside his grand piano, following that up with rumbling bass lines, and then letting vibrating notes resolve into a melody. It was Billy Strayhorn's “Lush Life”, performed gracefully and with added flourishes. Neve said later that the song had added meaning for him because of Strayhorn's role as a composer from a young age.

Read more: Jef Neve's dramatic piano compositions enthrall his Ottawa Jazz Festival audience

 

From hypnotic groove to intimate duets: two very different French groups at the Ottawa Jazz Festival (review)

Céline Bonacina Trio
Improv Invitational series: Spotlight on French Jazz
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Saturday, June 27, 2015 – 6 p.m.

Airelle Besson and Nelson Veras - Prelude
Improv Invitational series: Spotlight on French Jazz
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Saturday, June 27, 2015 – 8 p.m.

Half an hour into Céline Bonacina's concert at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, her trio was filling the Fourth Stage with a deep, hypnotic groove. Loud and all-encompassing, the groove was created by her fluid, circling lines on baritone sax, hard drumming, and deep bass notes.

It was typical of a concert that featured standard jazz instruments, but used them in different ways, altered them with effects and looping, and replaced swing with funk rhythms. Bonacina switched among baritone, alto, and soprano sax, and was joined by Olivier Carole, playing a five-string electric bass (with an added deeper string), and Hary Ratsimbazafy on drums.

It was what could only be described as an in-your-face show.

The French saxophonist primarily plays the baritone sax. Now the baritone can be a melodic instrument, or a mainstay of the rhythm section, but Bonacina played it as both. She easily drew out different sounds from it, and repeatedly used circular breathing to create extended vibrating lines. There was almost an element of cognitive dissonance hearing a person so short and slim producing such intense, huge sounds from that saxophone.

Read more: From hypnotic groove to intimate duets: two very different French groups at the Ottawa Jazz Festival (review)

 

The joy in Robi Botos' music delights an Ottawa Jazz Festival audience (review)

Robi Botos Quartet with Seamus Blake
Great Canadian Jazz Series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
Confederation Park
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 – 6:30 p.m.

Toronto pianist Robi Botos communicates a real joy in music when he plays. He had a big smile on his face as he began his Ottawa Jazz Festival concert Tuesday, and told the crowd how excited he was to bring, for the first time, his original music here as leader.

He also had a new album to promote – Movin' Forward [A440/Universal, 2015]  – and a new sound that's more his own.

When Botos won the TD Grand Prize at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2012, his music still showed the strong influence of his mentor, Oscar Peterson. Botos certainly hasn't lost either his delicate touch on ballads or his driving rhythm on straight-ahead pieces, but he's developed and expanded his own sound. Now there's touches of funk and electronics adding a modern edge as well.

And he has good taste in musical collaborators: both the album and this concert featured ex-pat Canadian, now NYC tenor sax player Seamus Blake. Blake is one of those saxophonists with a major reputation; I've made a point of hearing him every time he's played in Ottawa in the last few years and his playing has always substantially enhanced the music.

Read more: The joy in Robi Botos' music delights an Ottawa Jazz Festival audience (review)

 

Emil Viklicky turns his Moravian heritage into melodic and dramatic jazz (review)

Emil Viklicky “Grand Moravia” Trio
Improv Invitational series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 – 8 p.m.

Emil Viklicky is a pianist and composer from Moravia, the south-eastern region of the Czech Republic. Besides a jazz career spanning 40 years, he's also written several operas and TV and film scores. In 2004, Wynton Marsalis commissioned him to orchestrate the prison letters of former Czech President Václav Havel for a big band concert at Lincoln Centre.

And consistently throughout his career, Viklicky has used the folk music of his native Moravia as an inspiration for his jazz and classical compositions. As he said in one interview, that's his “calling card”. While he can play jazz standards, those folksongs are what he grew up with, and his own musical language.

Almost all of the pieces in this concert incorporated these Moravian themes, performed by Viklicky on piano with Petr Dvorsky on double bass and Cyril Zelenak on drums.

Read more: Emil Viklicky turns his Moravian heritage into melodic and dramatic jazz (review)

 

Duchess: “Girl-on-girl harmony” in a very easy to enjoy show (review)

Duchess
Great Canadian Jazz Series
Ottawa Jazz Festival
Confederation Park
Saturday, June 20, 2015 – 6:30 p.m.

There was a time when jazz didn't take itself too seriously.You went to a jazz show to have fun, to dance, to get cheered up.

The vocal trio Duchess – Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou – did its damnedest to bring back that era at its Ottawa Jazz Festival concert Saturday. Supported by a strong rhythm section, they sang cheerful jazz standards in tight harmony, in a show that was very easy to enjoy.

“Girl-on-girl harmony” is how the trio describes its music, and a great deal of it was sung in unison. They alternated verses and even lines, and their voices melded well as they celebrated the songs – which were mostly from the 1930s to 50s, and which they described as “timeless”. They followed that theme through by dressing similarly – though not identically – in well-cut, blue polka-dot dresses in a distinctly retro style.

Read more: Duchess: “Girl-on-girl harmony” in a very easy to enjoy show (review)

 

Ottawa Jazz Festival's late-night jam an upbeat completion to Saturday's music

Festival programming manager Petr Cancura (l) listens to a swinging duet by jam hosts pianist Steve Boudreau (on June 27-30) and guitarist Roddy Ellias. All three played with a variety of guest musicians throughout the jam  ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Ottawa Jazz Festival Late-night jam
Spin Kitchen & Bar, Ottawa Marriott Hotel
10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 20 to 1 a.m. Sunday, June 21, 2015

View photos of this jam by OttawaJazzScene.ca photojournalist Brett Delmage

Jazz fans who wanted an upbeat end to Saturday evening would have enjoyed the Ottawa Jazz Festival's late-night jam session. For 2½ hours, Spin Kitchen & Bar was filled with fast-moving jazz, with a good participation by both local and visiting musicians.

The house band – Roddy Ellias (guitar), John Geggie (double bass), and Nick Fraser (drums) – all have years of experience running jams. They opened with a half-hour set of three standards, including “Cheek to Cheek” and “Domino”. Each was given an extended treatment, and the music quickly captured the attention of the listeners near the stage.

By 11 p.m., the room, seating approximately 50 with clear sight lines to the stage, was mostly full. Ellias called up local pianist Steve Boudreau to the stage to join the band for several instrumentals. That set the shape of the music for the evening: energetic with lots of interplay, including a swinging duet between Boudreau and Ellias. The audience responded with continued appreciative applause.

Read more: Ottawa Jazz Festival's late-night jam an upbeat completion to Saturday's music

 

Ottawa Jazz Festival June 19 - jam session (review)

Even a short stay at the first night of jamming on June 19 gave me a good feeling for what to expect late at night at this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Walking in at 11 p.m., I saw a pianist intently bent over his keyboard, his hair obscuring his face. He was producing long strings of separated notes, clearly playing free jazz improv. Guitarist Roddy Ellias standing nearby on the stage, was responding to and contributing to the pointillist flow, together with John Geggie on double bass and Nick Fraser on drums. The music kept cornering unexpectedly – you couldn't predict where it would go – but it was very clear there was a strong thread connecting all four.

Read more: Ottawa Jazz Festival June 19 - jam session (review)

 

Laura Crema brings a fresh approach to jazz standards

Laura Crema's strong, supple voice, with a huskiness in her lower registers added extra depth and interest to the show ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Laura Crema
NAC Presents
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage
Saturday, May 30, 2015

View photos of this performance

There have been times when I've become Great American Songbooked-out. No more Broadway show tunes. No more songs that are indelibly associated with Billie or Peggy or Lena or Blossom. No more George Gershwin or Harold Arlen.

It's not that these jazz standards aren't extremely well-written – both lyrics and melody. But I've heard them sung in much the same way too many times.

This is an issue for any singer who includes more than a few standards in a show. Recognizability gives you an extra link to the audience, but it can also make you blend into a crowd of similar singers – unless you make an individual connection to a song.

So we come to Vancouver jazz vocalist Laura Crema, who made her National Arts Centre debut as part of the NAC Presents series on May 30. Crema's four solo albums have almost exclusively featured jazz standards; her latest, Fotografia [2013], includes seven standards, but also two songs by Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and two originals.

For the NAC show, she interspersed the jazz standards with three Jobim numbers, two songs by John Lennon and by Paul McCartney (“new standards”), and a few originals. And what really appealed to me is that she and her musicians took a fresh approach to the music.

Read more: Laura Crema brings a fresh approach to jazz standards

 

Celebrating Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's rich legacy at Brookstreet (review)

Roddy Ellias and Nancy Walker collaborated beautifully ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Tribute to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn
with Nancy Walker, Roddy Ellias, Kieran Overs, and Michel Delage
Brookstreet Hotel Options Jazz Lounge
Friday, May 29, 2015

Jazz composers Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn wrote such a huge range and number of compositions that a tribute to them doesn't have to stick to the obvious. And on the first evening of a two-night run at Brookstreet, Toronto pianist Nancy Walker and Ottawa guitarist Roddy Ellias chose some less well-known numbers like “My Little Brown Book”, “Day Dream”, and “Rain Check” to complement the classics like “Prelude to a Kiss” and “Upper Manhattan Medical Group”.

Walker and Ellias hadn't played a full show together before this, but, with occasional quick conferring between songs, they collaborated beautifully, easily switching roles between lead and accompaniment or both working to display the melody in different ways. Almost all these pieces were originally performed by Ellington's big band, and in several songs such as “Purple Gazelle”, Ellias' archtop electric had a similar flowing feel to a tenor saxophone solo.

This was the third show in the monthly jazz tribute series at Brookstreet organized by Ottawa drummer Michel Delage, and Delage and veteran Toronto bassist Kieran Overs provided swinging and nuanced rhythms behind Walker and Ellias, occasionally stepping out for short solos reflecting the melody and feel of the songs, and trading fours with the guitar or piano.

Read more: Celebrating Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's rich legacy at Brookstreet (review)

   

Garry Elliott and Bumpin' Binary make the organ trio fresh and compelling (review)

Don Cummings, Mike Essoudry, Garry Elliott ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Garry Elliott and Bumpin' Binary
GigSpace Performance Studio
Saturday, May 23, 2015

Just a few days after Mad Men ended its TV recollections of the 1960s, three Ottawa musicians brought some of that decade's music back – and made it fresh and compelling.

It was an evening of organ trio music, with guitarist Garry Elliott performing for the first time with the Bumpin' Binary duo: Don Cummings on Hammond organ and Mike Essoudry on drums. And their inspiration came from the giants of that genre, including organist Jimmy Smith and guitarist Grant Green.

There was groove – lots of it. There were sharp contrasts between bright guitar licks and light cymbal taps, and the full organ chords. And there was melody and feeling expressed in the slower numbers.

The organ trio, with Hammond B3, drums and either electric guitar or saxophone, flourished in the 60s with artists like Smith, Jimmy McGriff, and Jack McDuff on organ teaming up with guitarists like Green, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, and Wes Montgomery. After a partial eclipse over the next few decades, it's been revived more recently by musicians like Joey DeFrancesco and Larry Goldings.

Read more: Garry Elliott and Bumpin' Binary make the organ trio fresh and compelling (review)

   

The young and the experienced collaborate in a fast-moving show

Ben Heard was double-bassed all evening ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Roddy Ellias / Ben Heard / Keagan Eskritt (set 1)
The Chris Maskell Quartet (set 2)
Pressed
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three talented young jazz musicians teamed up with three experienced musicians on Tuesday to perform two sets, each with a very different vibe.

Common to both was young bassist Ben Heard, who arranged the first set with fellow student drummer Keagan Eskritt and master guitarist Roddy Ellias. The three met at the JazzEd sessions which Ellias had taught with local high school musicians in 2013, and kept playing together even after the last JazzEd concert.

Although the trio's set had lots of swing, it was on the quiet, thoughtful side, opening with a flowing version of Henry Mancini's “Days of Wine and Roses”. Ellias contributed a new composition, “Postcard”, a wistful, melodic piece which included exploratory passages; Heard's original, “Spindle”, moved from stately and a bit melancholy to almost flamenco in style, before ending with delicate harmonic notes on the guitar.

They closed in a more emphatic vein with Eskritt's “Smash”, which began with a deep bass riff and hard drumming and then added strongly-accented guitar lines, to produce intense music where notes were held and played before and after the beat. It ended abruptly, and was greeted with appreciative applause from the audience, which filled almost every seat in the café.

For the second set, Ottawa tenor saxophonist Chris Maskell, who will enter his final year studying jazz performance at McGill University this fall, teamed up with Heard and two well-known players on the local scene: drummer Mike Essoudry and guitarist Alex Moxon. They played originals by all members of the group and a good mixture of less-common jazz classics, such as “Punjab” by Joe Henderson and “Take the Coltrane” by Duke Ellington.

Read more: The young and the experienced collaborate in a fast-moving show

   

Big Band Ottawa plays to keep big band music alive

Big Band Ottawa leader Robert Vogelsang (trombone): 'We're all here because we love to play'  ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Big Band Ottawa
Canadian Tulip Festival
Commissioner's Park, Dow's Lake, Ottawa
Saturday, May 16, 2015

This year, the Tulip Festival showcased big band jazz in honour of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.

The energy and enthusiasm of Big Band Ottawa – and the interest they created in their audience – showed that this music was far more than a historical artifact.

The big band attracted listeners who stayed – and grew in number – during its two, hour-long sets, and not just people who danced to that music back in the 40s and 50s, either. It included everyone from toddlers to teenagers to 20-somethings to seniors, and of a wide range range of ethnicities.

Big Band Ottawa's leader and trombonist Robert Vogelsang told OttawaJazzScene.ca that the group has been together for four years. Many of the members had played in other, now-defunct big bands, such as Big Band Caravane, and missed playing the music, he said. They rehearse every week and play 10 to 12 shows a year, some private, some for veterans, and some huge shows – for example last year's New Year's show at the National Arts Centre, which sold out with 1000 attendees.

The band's 18 instrumentalists include both professional and amateur musicians, with ages ranging from late teens/early 20s to much later.

Read more: Big Band Ottawa plays to keep big band music alive

   

Kathryn Ladano takes her bass clarinet from growls to helices of melody

 ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Kathryn Ladano
Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) #121
Raw Sugar Café
Sunday, May 17, 2015 - 7 p.m.

Bass clarinetist Kathryn Ladano took her instrument from deep bass growls to unearthly treble lines to percussive pops at her Ottawa concert Sunday – in a café of silent listeners absorbed in her music, despite the attractions of balmy spring weather during a long weekend.

The Waterloo-based musician and educator, who studied with bass clarinet master Lori Freedman, is on tour across Canada. She's performing solo but also promoting ...Listen, the just-released album by Stealth, her duo with Richard Burrows of the TorQ Percussion Quartet.

On that album, she said, Burrows primarily plays vibraphone – which made the second half of this concert, a duet with Ottawa percussionist Rory Magill playing the similar xylophone and assorted percussion, particularly fitting.

This show was the second stop on Ladano's tour, and part of the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) biweekly concert series. It attracted IMOO regulars, but also new audience members who stayed for the entire concert.

For the first set, Ladano performed solo: a series of six compositions and improvisations, each lasting about 5 to 8 minutes. She opened with vibrating bass notes, reminiscent of whale songs, and deeper than I'd heard on a bass clarinet – and then moved to lighter, shimmering notes, more like from a bass flute. She filled the entire room with long, vibrating tones, quiet blankets of sound which ebbed and flowed in intensity, dual circling lines of melody, and memorable rhythms.

Read more: Kathryn Ladano takes her bass clarinet from growls to helices of melody