You know how Cole Porter wrote “I Get a Kick Out of You?” Well, what I remember best about the last ten years writing and editing for OttawaJazzScene.ca is the kick I've got from talking to people about jazz.
After almost every interview I've had with musicians about their latest projects, I feel elated and energized, fascinated by the music they're producing and the stories behind it. It's energy that carries me through the hard work of writing and editing the story out of that interview..
In the last decade, I've talked to musicians all over the world – from Japan and Korea, to South America, to all over Europe and the United States – and learned that music does provide a universal bridge. And even more importantly, Brett and I have done our best to cover the Canadian and Ottawa-Gatineau jazz scenes, making sure that the talent and innovation that our own musicians display is properly chronicled. Canadians make great music, and we don't want it overlooked!
One of the odd aspects of creating a Live Jazz Guide every week is that I often know how to spell a musician's name before I remember their face. “Oh, YOU'RE Szymon!” I exclaimed this weekend when I met one of the musicians whose events we tell you about in the Live Jazz Guide.
Talking with fellow listeners at concerts (and before, standing in line) has also been a joy. I learned a great deal from chatting with knowledgeable jazz fans like Ron Sweetman and Gaby Warren about the history of jazz and about current artists from around the world. And I've really enjoyed meeting OttawaJazzScene.ca readers and donors and other local jazz fans and hearing about your reactions to the music and your ideas and news about the jazz scene.
We work within a community of jazz lovers – letting you know about what's going on in jazz and improvised music, but also learning from you. I really appreciate the tips and heads-up (and constructive criticism) I get from listeners and musicians, which ensure we cover all of the Ottawa-Gatineau jazz scene in our Live Jazz Guide and in our articles. And I am grateful to the musicians who answer all my questions about their shows and projects, by email, telephone, and in person, so that we can provide you with the most accurate and interesting information.
There are frustrations, of course: the shows and series that get abruptly cancelled and no one tells us; the times when there's no clear information and I have to make educated guesses; the musicians and venues who only post their gigs on Facebook, which we don't source from or access anymore. It's sad when venues close, and much worse when members of our jazz community die - but we’re glad to have reported about their music and talked to them about jazz when they were alive. While we still miss them, it's heartening to see younger musicians develop their own voices, including some active professionals who we’ve followed since they were students. And new locations for jazz do keep popping up.
Looking back over 10 years, I don't think I ever doubted that Brett and I were capable of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca. But I didn't realize exactly how much effort and time it would take, or the amount of time and mental energy that fundraising would take away from content. Nevertheless, I think we've produced a body of work – interviews, news articles, reviews, videos, photos – that's a respectable representation of the jazz and improvised music here and elsewhere in Canada. It's helped you to learn more about the music you love, and musicians to find their audiences – and that's important.
Read Brett Delmage's 10th anniversary article: OttawaJazzScene.ca 10 years later: a busier, more diverse, more exciting jazz scene