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Drummer and composer Mike Essoudry has been a consistently-innovative and interesting jazz voice in Ottawa for many years. His own music is diverse – avant-garde improvisation in duo projects and with the Rakestar Arkestra; the groove-oriented drums-organ duo Bumpin' Binary; his popular brass bands including his former Mash Potato Mashers and his current Bank Street Bonbons; and intricate through-composed modern jazz in his own ensembles, like his current Epoch Quintet.
Essoudry thinks large when it comes to groups. His ensembles have previously been sextets, septets, and octets; this quintet is the smallest he's brought together to play modern jazz.
They're all musicians he's played with before. Guitarist Alex Moxon and alto saxophonist Zakari Frantz are well-known on the local jazz scene; pianist Roland Racz moved to Ottawa a few years ago from Hungary, where he had won many jazz and classical awards, and has been steadily increasing his profile here. Phil Charbonneau, on double bass, has a strong jazz and improv background, but lately has been playing more with indie groups like the Hilotrons.
The Patterns of Change Quartet has a classic jazz line-up – saxophone, piano, bass, drums – and musical tastes which run from 60s modal jazz to a more modern groove. But what I noticed most about these four Ottawa-area musicians’ performance was their high energy, their wide dynamic range, and how carefully they interlaced their sound.
The group is co-led by saxophonist Vince Rimbach and bassist Marc Decho, with pianist Clayton Connell and drummer Valeriy Nehovora. The four first started playing together last fall in Decho's larger Warp'tet group, but only debuted as this quartet last month.
Performing before an enthusiastic audience at Record Runner on Friday, the quartet combined originals by Rimbach and Decho with jazz and pop classics from the 1960s and 70s. They strode forth assertively in their first number: “Resolution” from John Coltrane's classic album “A Love Supreme”. The combination of Rimbach's powerful, rolling tenor sax lines over thundering grooves on keyboards, bass, and drums enveloped the audience in the music, while a later joyous keyboard solo by Connell and sultry bass-lines from Decho provided a notable contrast.
Every Sunday OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from the dozens of live jazz events in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide we send to donors. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice.
Wednesday, May 23, 8 p.m.: Toshimaru Nakamura and Martin Taxt + Sound of the Mountain at General Assembly Sunday, May 27, 7 p.m.: IMOO #178: Tatsuya Nakatani and Mark Molnar at General Assembly
This week, avant-garde jazz fans have the chance to hear two accomplished, but very different, Japanese improvising musicians.
On Wednesday, improvising artist Toshimaru Nakamura,. whose instrument is the Japanese no-input mixing board, will team up with Norwegian avant jazz tuba player Martin Taxt. They've recently released their second record as a duo, Listening to the Footsteps of Living Ones Who Are Still on the Ground, in which Nakamura processes Taxt's deep tuba tones. Taxt describes the result: "We ended up with me connecting the tuba to Toshi’s mixing board, so actually it became a «tuba input mixing board» The metallic sounds you hear is my tuba going through Toshi’s mixer."
One review of the album concludes that: "this album thoroughly subverted all of my expectations in a way which I find to be both interesting and a joyous pleasure to listen to, and that's exactly what I want from this kind of album: it's one thing to give the listener something that they want, but it's another thing to give them something that they didn't know they wanted."
Since the mid-1990s, Nakamura has used a standard mixing board as an electronic instrument. "The use of the mixing board in this manner is not only innovative in the sounds it can create but, more importantly, in the approach this method of working with the mixer demands.The unpredictability of the instrument requires an attitude of obedience and resignation to the system and the sounds it produces, bringing a high level of indeterminacy and surprise to the music."
On May 1, the festival unveiled the full list of shows which it will present from July 26 to August 9, 2018 in a slightly longer programme than usual to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The announced shows are primarily from the core classical repertoire, but several are also of interest to jazz fans.
On July 26 and 27, violin virtuoso Roby Lakatos will appear with his gypsy jazz quartet. Lakatos comes from a family of Romani violinists descended from Janos Bihari, an influential composer and performer who brought gypsy music into aristocratic fashion in the early 19th century, and whose melodies were used by Liszt and Beethoven.
Lakatos moves easily between classical, jazz, and his native Hungarian folk idioms. His violin training came both from within his own family, and at the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Budapest, where he won the first prize for classical violin in 1984. His biography notes that he has collaborated with Vadim Repin and Stéphane Grappelli, and his playing was greatly admired by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, who always made a point of visiting the club in Brussels to hear Lakatos. In the jazz realm, his ensemble has played with Herbie Hancock, Nigel Kennedy, and Randy Brecker.
Last fall, Lakatos and guitarist Biréli Lagrène – who also played with Stéphane Grappelli as a youth – released Tribute to Stéphane & Django, along with the big band of the Modern Art Orchestra, and jazz drummer Niek de Bruijn and guitarist Andreas Varady. The CD/DVD included Jazz Manouche standards such as "Djangology", "Nuages", "Minor Swing", and "Nuits de Saint-Germain-Des-Près".
Lakatos will perform a classically-oriented concert on July 26 at Dominion Chalmers United Church, and a jazzier late-night concert on July 27 at La Nouvelle Scène.
Most tributes to Jazz Age composer George Gershwin either concentrate on the piano or give his music a full orchestral treatment. But Montreal's Buzz Brass quintet has a different idea: their Gershwin show combines piano with two trumpets, two trombones, and French horn.
The coalition's membership has ballooned from 10 to close to 150 members in the three years it's been in operation, and OMIC president Mark Monahan (executive director of Ottawa Bluesfest) told the AGM “sometimes the challenge is figuring out who your members are and what they want.”
“One of the biggest challenges we have I think in the coming year is to keep the organization relevant. We would like to think everybody joins this organization because they have a sense of supporting and wanting to support local music, but also people want to know what's in it for them. And that's a natural tendency when you join organizations like this. One of the things that we've been conscious of is trying to continue to build benefits for all of the members.”
After 15 years playing together in Montreal, clarinetist Lori Freedman and bassist Nicolas Caloia decided it was time to create music together, in a daring new duo they call Mercury.
The music they're creating isn't straight jazz, and it takes improvised music to new places. They say they are “on the brink of finding a new sound aesthetic: unpredictable, untempered, organic, and irregular, but none-the-less, with cadence, consonance, transparency and silence.”
Freedman and Caloia are both prominent in Montreal's “actuelle” music community, performing what could be called freely improvised, or avant-garde, or new music. Caloia, who is originally from Ottawa (he moved to Montreal in 1989), is a composer, improviser, and double bassist. He leads groups ranging from duos, to his Tilting quartet, to Spell (his 10-piece marching band), to his 30-piece Ratchet Orchestra.
Freedman is a virtuoso player on all the clarinets, from the little Eb to the giant contrabass clarinet. She specializes in playing music by living composers – “I don't know when the last time I played music by a dead composer was” – but in contexts ranging from contemporary chamber music (including at Ottawa Chamberfest) to highly avant-garde. In addition to writing her own compositions, she often performs music specifically composed for her. She's a fearless jazz improviser: at the first Ottawa IMOOfest in 2012, every eye was riveted on her solo performance.