Love jazz? So do we! OttawaJazzScene.ca connects you with live jazz and improvised music every day of the year. Discover the latest jazz news, learn more about upcoming shows in our musician interviews, revisit concerts in our reviews, see shows in photos and videos, and go out with our jazz club and venue listings and comprehensive jazz event listings. It's all made possible by reader donations. Jazz is something you feel - and it feels great. See you on the scene!
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.
Saturday, July 21, 9 p.m.: The Justin Duhaime Quartet presents the music of Django Reinhardt at Irene's
Ever since its debut in the 1930s in France, the "hot jazz" of Sinto (gypsy) guitarist Django Reinhardt has won over audiences with its bright energy and appealing melodies. Ottawa jazz guitarist Justin Duhaime has been promoting this music for the past few years, bringing European and North American gypsy jazz musicians into town for concerts - as well as regularly playing it himself, in duos with guitarist Nabil Yaghi and in larger groups.
For this show, he's featuring well-regarded local jazz clarinetist David Renaud, and spotlighting Reinhardt's compositions featuring clarinet.
While Reinhardt's best-known collaborations were with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Grappelli left the group at the beginning of WWII, remaining in England when Reinhardt returned to France. By 1940, Reinhardt had replaced him in the Quintette du Hot Club de France with clarinetist/saxophonist Hubert Rostaing. Rostaing was a regular member of the band for more than two years and played occasionally with Reinhardt until 1948. He performed on many of Reinhardt's recordings, and is is best-known for his clarinet work on "Nuages".
This tribute show will feature music written and recorded in Paris during the Nazi occupation and beyond. Duhaime promises "an eclectic mix of high energy danceable swing, Latin grooves, virtuosic fast tempo tunes, and luscious ballads."
Ottawa vocalist Antoine Collins sang of love, in the most inclusive way, as he presented his tribute to Nat King Cole in a noon-hour concert at the 2018 Ottawa Jazz Festival. He released a CD of these songs, Nature Boy, in March.
Collins had invited members of the city's LGBTQ community to hear the show, and not only they but a considerable number of other jazz lovers came out to fill every chair (and stand at the back) in the festival's large Ontario Stage in Confederation Park.
Collins sang his favourite Nat King Cole classics, and talked about how those songs spoke to him and to the world. He was well supported by Mark Ferguson on keyboards, Brian Tansley on saxophone/flute, Phil Victor Bova on electric bass, Mike Essoudry on drums, and Marianne Dumas on percussion, with a guest appearance by Petr Cancura.
Our video story includes excerpts from several of the numbers in the show, plus an interview with Collins and representatives of Capital Rainbow Refuge, the refugee assistance group to which he was donating part of the proceeds of his album.
Eagles / Schroeder / Essoudry Ontario Stage, 2018 Ottawa Jazz Festival Tuesday, June 26, 2018 – 5 p.m.
Normand Glaude Quartet: Toots’ Suite Ontario Stage, 2018 Ottawa Jazz Festival Wednesday, June 27, 2018 – 12 noon
Each year, Ottawa-Gatineau jazz groups showcase their latest projects in free shows at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. It's an opportunity for listeners to investigate groups or shows that sold out in smaller venues, or which they might want to hear in local bars and halls in the future.
This year, the festival gave local groups greater visibility – adding late afternoon and evening shows to supplement the regular noon-hour shows, and locating them in a large tent on the Elgin Street side of Confederation Park, better placed to catch the attention of passers-by. [See the full list of local shows at the 2018 festival]
But the result was more listeners and a higher profile for the groups. Every time we went by the 7:30 p.m. shows, every seat was taken and listeners were spilling out of the tent. The noon and 5 p.m. shows we heard were almost full, with more listeners than in previous years.
Extravagant costumes. Acrobatic dancing. Strong rhythms. Music ranging from tender ballads to all-out ensemble performances. Tropicana Night gave Ottawa listeners a taste of Cuban music and dance in its many forms.
It was the biggest production ever undertaken by artistic director Miguel De Armas and producer Yasmina Proveyer, with the Los Cubanitos dancers, the Fiesta Cubana band led by De Armas, the rumba percussion group Clave y Guaguancó, and four vocalists: Rusdell Nuñez, Caridad Cruz, Cristina Sayén, and Sheyla Fernandez. They performed classic Cuban tunes by composers from across the 20th century, with the dancers adding glamorous interpretations.
The 500-seat Harold Shenkman Hall was mostly full. By the end of the first set everyone was up and dancing to the infectious rhythms. The second set ended with more dancing and a full-out standing ovation.
Our video contains excerpts from several of the numbers in the show, plus an interview with Yasmina Proveyer.
The Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer will feature two tributes to important milestones in jazz and two individual jazz voices this month.
A recreation of the best-selling jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue; a tribute to Ry Cooder's ground-breaking collaboration with Cuban musicians, The Buena Vista Social Club; a trio show by Ottawa guitar master Roddy Ellias; and a quadrilingual show by jazz vocalist Diane Nalini and her trio – you can hear all these in the four nights of the outdoor festival, from July 25 to 28.
This is the 32nd year of the Desjardins festival and it is again free to all. Its concerts are held in Parc de l'Imaginaire in Aylmer, immediately across from the Aylmer Marina. All concerts start at 7:30 p.m. and finish between 9 and 10 p.m. Picnics and families are welcome. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets because seating is not provided. And hope for clear skies, because concerts are canceled in the event of rain. Donations are welcomed.
The festival is run by la Ville de Gatineau, which will also offer world music concerts (shading into jazz) in the park on the first three Wednesdays of July, with Boogát, Laetitia Zonzambé, and Mamselle Ruiz.
Wednesday, July 25: Montreal trumpeter Ron Di Lauro opens this year's Desjardins festival with his sextet of accomplished Montreal musicians: Jean-Pierre Zanella on alto sax, André Leroux on tenor sax, Geoff Lapp on piano, Michel Donato on bass, and Dave Laing on drums. Di Lauro was awarded the prestigious Oscar Peterson Prize in 2014 by the Montreal Jazz Festival, and his sextet has toured across Canada.
Each year, the Ottawa Jazz Festival brings in an all-star group of young Canadian jazz musicians to play in its Jazz Youth Summit. Under the direction of trumpeter and university educator Jim Lewis, they rehearse together, take masterclasses, perform in the evening jam sessions, and immerse themselves in jazz during the festival. Then they play two public concerts on the festival's main stage on the final days of the festival.
This year's crop of nine musicians came from across Canada: from Antigonish, Nova Scotia to Montreal to Owen Sound to Winnipeg to Edmonton to Prince George, BC. Trumpeter Evan Dalling was the Ottawa representative.
On the festival's last full day, June 30, the youth summit ensemble opened for jazz superstar Herbie Hancock – and Hancock sat by the side of the stage listening to them. OttawaJazzScene.ca heard a bit of that concert, and all of their well-received second show on Canada Day.
For their July 1 concert, all of the pieces were composed or arranged by the summit members themselves. Some had been performed in their June 30 show and some were added for this show. Each musician introduced his or her own piece, which they had arranged for the ensemble: the arrangements included less-common instruments like sousaphone and flute as well as standard horn and rhythm sections.