Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

August 10: Django Libre at Bar Robo
August 15: Django Libre at Pressed

The film Django, playing at the ByTowne Cinema this week, tells the story of renowned guitarist Django Reinhardt, who combined the exotic gypsy music of his ancestors with the American jazz of Louis Armstrong, and created a new and compelling music. It was all the rage in Europe in the 1930s and 40s, as you can see in the film. [Read our review of Django]

But gypsy jazz/jazz manouche is still being performed today, and sounds as great as ever live. The Ottawa group Django Libre has been playing gypsy jazz since 2007, approaching the style with a modern sensibility, technique, and a love for the music. They released a live album in 2014, Live at the Petit Chicago.

You can hear the group twice in local clubs in the next week, and enjoy their passionate improvisations and rhythms, whether as a listener or as a dancer.

The Ottawa-based gypsy jazz group Django Libre plays Bar Robo in Chinatown (692 Somerset Street West) on Thursday, August 10, and Pressed Cafe in Centretown (750 Gladstone Avenue) on Tuesday, August 15. Both shows run from 8 to 11 p.m., and the cover charge at the door is $10.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa after the jazz festival is over? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

August 5, 6, and 7: Peter Liu and the Pollcats and Side Street Swing at the Mackenzie King Estate

Vocalist Peter Liu and the Pollcats are one of the most popular vintage swing bands in Ottawa. They play the music of the Golden Age of Jazz – upbeat and catchy, with Liu's smooth vocals and Scott Poll's evocative clarinet bringing out the music's beautiful melodies. The group is most often heard playing for Ottawa's enthusiastic swing dance groups, where they can keep the dance-floor full for hours.

This weekend, they're playing each afternoon at the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park, where their Swing Era music will step visitors back in time to when former PM William Lyon Mackenzie King first created this beautiful green getaway. The local dance group Side Street Swing will also provide swing dance demonstrations to the Pollcats' music.

When the musicians and dancers take a breather, you can also explore the estate's flower displays, its beautiful nature walks, and the fake ruins which Mackenzie King had set up to outline the best views. The Mackenzie King Tearoom is running a barbecue from noon to 5 p.m. each day (cash only). Visitors to the Estate may also bring their own picnic.

Vocalist Peter Liu and the Pollcats will perform as part of The Mackenzie King Estate's "The Estate in Bloom" garden party on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Admission to the estate is free, but there is a $9.57 charge for car parking, and you need correct change (no bills) or a credit card for the machine.

The estate is accessible by car or by bicycle: take the Gatineau Parkway from Boulevard des Allumettières or Alexandre‑Taché Boulevard. Turn left at the Champlain Parkway, and continue for about 2 km. Then turn right at Mackenzie King Road. Follow the road and turn right to access parking lot P6 at the Estate. Parkways in Gatineau Park are for bikes only (closed to motor vehicles) on Saturday and Sunday mornings. You can access the estate via Old Chelsea at that time.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa after the jazz festival is over? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

July 29: Chamberfest: Braid n’ Strings at La Nouvelle Scène

Jazz fusion is usually thought of as a combination of jazz and rock, but it's equally artistically valid to combine jazz with other genres – for example, chamber music. Recently, Toronto jazz pianist David Braid has been writing longer-form works which he performs with a string quartet. They're somewhere between jazz and chamber music: they have motifs from both genres and include both improvisation and through-composition. And the result is rich and compelling.

Braid has been regularly performing these pieces with a variety of string quartets in the last six years in Europe and North America. At the 2015 Ottawa Chamberfest, he collaborated with the Sinfonia UK Chamber Orchestra. He's recorded many of these compositions on his 2016 album, Flow, which was nominated for a Juno in the Instrumental category this year.

On Saturday, he will play with an all-star Canadian string quartet at Chamberfest: Juno and Opus award-winning Montreal violinist Mark Fewer, the NAC Orchestra's principal viola player, Jethro Marks, and two members of the Gryphon Trio, cellist Roman Borys and violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon. Both Fewer and the Gryphon Trio have previously extended their classical range in collaborations with jazz performers.

They'll perform on July 29 in a late-evening show at La Nouvelle Scène. Braid says their repertoire will be from Flow, although they won't repeat his large-scale composition "Chauvet", which they'd previously played at Chamberfest and at the National Arts Centre [read our review of the NAC show].

Pianist David Braid and an all-star string quartet will perform Braid's compositions in a Chamberfest late-night show at La Nouvelle Scène (333 King Edward Avenue, just north of Rideau Street in Lowertown) at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 29. Tickets are $30, or you can use a Chamberfest festival pass. Tickets and passes are available on-line at chamberfest.com or at their offices at 4 Florence Street in Centretown, or at the door.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa after the jazz festival is over? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

Free jazz outdoors in Ottawa and Gatineau this week

We've checked the forecast, and it's supposed to be sunny this weekend. Honestly! For real! In fact, the 14-day forecast is showing clear skies almost all the way through.

So, after all the soggy weather we've lived through recently in Ottawa, it's time to get out and hear live jazz outdoors. You have lots of choice in the next few days:

  • on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Chamberfest is offering free Alfresco concerts outside the National Gallery, with the Stretch Orchestra (both days), and Percussion A to Z on Saturday
  • The free Festival Kafé-Karamel is on until Saturday in Gatineau. On Saturday evening, you can hear the Latin Caribbean Roots group with powerhouse Cuban vocalist Caridad Cruz at 8 p.m., followed by Lengaїa Salsa Brava.
  • On Tuesday at noon, you can hear jazz vocalist Steve Berndt and guitarist Alex Moxon perform at Inspiration Village on York Street in the ByWard Market
  • On Tuesday at 7 p.m., vocalist Nicole Ratté brings her jazz quintet with violinist William Lamoureux to Les Mardis Classiques in Gatineau [read our interview with Lamoureux]
  • On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., vocalist Stella Gonis from Martinique performs at Place de la Francophonie in downtown Gatineau
  • On Wednesday at noon, the jazz group Constant performs on the terrace of Gatineau City Hall
  • And Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. is the first show in this year's Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer, with soundscape artist Martin Rodriguez

Don't miss your chance in the sun!

Chamberfest's Alfresco concerts will be held in the Ampitheatre outside the National Gallery on Sussex Drive at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23. The Festival Kafé-Karamel is held in Laval Street in downtown Gatineau (vieux Hull). Inspiration Village is located on York Street near Sussex Drive in the ByWard Market. The Nicole Ratté Quintet will perform in Parc des Deux-Ruisseaux in the Plateau sector of  Gatineau on July 25. Stella Gonis will perform at Place de la Francophonie (outdoors) at 1, rue Wellington (on an island west of Terrasses de la Chaudière). Constant will perform on the terrace of la maison du citoyen at 25 rue Laurier in Gatineau on July 26. The Festival de Jazz Desjardins is held in Parc de l'Imaginaire in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, across from the Aylmer Marina.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa after the jazz festival is over? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

July 3, 2017: Canada Scene: Kellylee Evans in the NAC City Room

On Monday, Ottawa vocalist Kellylee Evans kicks off a series of free concerts in the Canada Scene festival at the National Arts Centre. Called the Scene@6 series, it will run every evening at 6 p.m. until July 23 in the NAC's new City Room – and will even include a few jazz artists, including the Miguel de Armas Quartet from Ottawa (July 10), Alejandra Ribera (July 12), Bellflower from Montreal (July 16), and the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble from Ottawa (July 17).

Because of lingering health issues related to her being hit by lightning, Kellylee Evans has been keeping a lower profile in the last few years. This will be a chance for Ottawa audiences to catch up with her new music and (we hope) see her back in full active form!

OttawaJazzScene.ca has seen Evans capture and charm a huge outdoor audience at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

You can also watch our video of her rehearsing with the NAC Orchestra and read the accompanying interview.

Her album Nina, a tribute to music legend Nina Simone, won Evans the 2011 JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. She has captivated audiences across Canada and has a huge following in France, opening for stars such as John Legend, George Benson, and Willy Nelson. She has released several other albums of original songs along the way, and as well as her jazz interpretations of classic hip-hop.

Kellylee Evans will perform in the new City Room at the renovated National Arts Centre (1 Elgin Street) at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 3. Admission is free. You may wish to get there early.

Most cross-town OC Transpo transit routes stop within a few blocks of the NAC, particularly on Elgin Street and on Albert/Slater. There's also bicycle parking on Elgin and Queen Street.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa after the jazz festival is over? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

June 23 to July 2, 2017: 12 free daytime jazz concerts at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

If you're in downtown Ottawa this week or next, consider moving your lunch hour earlier or later. The music being presented on the Ottawa Jazz Festival's daytime is well worth catching – and free!

This year, all the mid-day shows are being presented on the festival's second stage, in front of Ottawa City Hall, after the Rideau Centre decided to drop its long-standing festival stage. This will improve the listening experience: the sound quality in the Rideau Centre Stage was always problematic, with the large amount of ambient noise and echo, and there were never enough chairs. But it's meant that the festival cannot present all its concerts at noon. Instead, they'll be held at 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. on weekdays this year.

The tent is covered and has plenty of chairs (although you can bring your own, too), and you're welcome to munch your sandwiches while listening. Ottawa City Hall has clean washrooms and water fountains nearby.

And, most importantly, who you'll hear: some of the best jazz musicians in Ottawa presenting new and innovative projects. We're particularly interested in guitarist Wayne Eagles' new collaboration with drummer Jesse Stewart and double bassist John Geggie; Steve Boudreau's untraditional tribute to George Gershwin; and the all-too-rare chance to enjoy younger Ottawa musicians who have moved elsewhere in the MDB Quartet. We've heard both the Rakestar Arkestra and the Juliet Singers' tribute to Joni Mitchell's Blue recently, and we'd recommend them. We'd like to hear more of Michael Hanna's vocalese, and where Garry Elliott and Steve Boudreau have taken their quartet in the last year. And we've been assured by other listeners that the Bank Street Bonbons and the Prime Rib Big Band have been sounding great in recent shows.

You can read all about these shows and much more in our complete wrap-up of Ottawa musicians at the festival.

The festival is also running a free hour-long Jibber Jazz Jam at the fountain in Confederation Park at 4 p.m. on June 23, 26, 27, and 29, and July 2. Run by a trio of local jazz musicians, it's designed as a non-elite show in which all are welcome to participate, even if you can only shake a rattle in time.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival will present Ottawa-area groups at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays from July 23 to 30 in the Tartan Homes Stage in front of Ottawa City Hall (south side of Laurier Avenue, just east of Elgin Street, across from Confederation Park). On Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25, twelve student jazz bands will perform from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. On Sunday, July 2, groups will perform at noon and 2 p.m.

Most cross-town OC Transpo transit routes stop within a few blocks of City Hall, particularly on Elgin Street and on Albert/Slater. There's also plentiful bicycle parking at City Hall.

Read our clear guide to everything happening at the 2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa after the jazz festival is over? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017: The John Dapaah Trio at Southminster United Church

Young pianist John Kofi Dapaah has hands in both the jazz and classical genres. A graduate of Carleton University, he also studied in Austria, and obtained his Masters in Music from McGill University. He's performed in Japan, Austria, and here in Canada, including before two Governors-General. His composition for string quartet was performed with choreography at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

Jazz/gospel singer Roxanne Goodman describes Dapaah as a musician with “an amazing destiny before him. He lives to play the piano. He will be classed as a young Oscar Peterson and has the foundational moral character to go all the way.”

On the jazz side, Dapaah has been featured in concert with local jazz musicians, playing standards, improvisations, and arrangements of spirituals. For this concert, he's reuniting with with two strong members of the local jazz scene, whom he performed with in February: bassist J.P. Lapensée and drummer Jamie Holmes from the HML Trio. At this show, they'll perform jazz standards and a special 150th-anniversary arrangement of ‘O Canada’.

The John Dapaah Trio (John Dapaah, J.P. Lapensée, and Jamie Holmes) will perform in the weekly noon-hour series at Southminster United Church on Wednesday, June 21, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. The concert is open to all, but donations to support the musicians and the series are strongly encouraged. Southminster United Church is located at 15 Aylmer Avenue (at Bank Street, just south of the Bank Street Bridge); the all-day OC Transpo routes 1 and 7 stop immediately in front. It's easily accessible by bicycle, on road and via the recreational paths along the Rideau Canal.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, 2017: Wes Montgomery Tribute with the Michel Delage Quartet at Brookstreet Hotel Options Jazz Lounge

It's taken a few years, but Mike Rud is finally confident enough as a jazz guitarist to tackle the music of Wes Montgomery, one of his jazz heroes.

In the interim, Rud's won a Juno Award, released five albums, and worked with jazz greats like Peter Bernstein, Kenny Wheeler, Herb Ellis, Joey DeFrancesco, and Randy Brecker. But Wes Montgomery still is a big deal: in his hard bop albums in the early 60s, he revolutionized the techniques and ways of thinking about jazz guitar. Rud has been studying and transcribing Montgomery's solos for years to learn more about his ideas.

In fact, Rud's still a bit in awe of Montgomery. Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Rud to learn more about why he reveres Montgomery's playing and vision of the guitar.

This weekend, Rud has teamed up with drummer Michel Delage in their second tribute show together (they produced lovely music last summer playing songs by guitarist George Benson, who was also influenced by Montgomery). They'll be playing with pianist Peter Hum and bassist Alex Bilodeau at Brookstreet and at the Record Centre here in Ottawa, then Tuesday back in Montreal.

The Michel Delage Quartet (Mike Rud, Michel Delage, Peter Hum, and Alex Bilodeau) will present music by Wes Montgomery at the Brookstreet Hotel's Options Jazz Lounge, on Friday, June 9 and Saturday, June 10. The music starts at 8 p.m. and runs until midnight each night. There's no cover charge, and no reservations are required. The Brookstreet Hotel is located at 525 Legget Drive in Kanata North; the all-day OC Transpo route 63 goes immediately by it, while route 64 stops about 14 minutes walk away.

On Sunday, June 11, the quartet will perform at the Record Centre,1099 Wellington Street West (at Sherbrooke) in Hintonburg, from 2 to 3 p.m. Donations to the musicians are strongly encouraged.

On Tuesday, June 13, Rud, Delage, and Bilodeau will perform three sets at the Upstairs Club, 1254 rue MacKay in Montreal, starting at 8 p.m. Cover is $8, and free after 10:30 p.m.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa? Please donate.

Each week, OttawaJazzScene.ca recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive listings. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice!

Saturday, June 3, 2017: Karen Oxorn: Celebrating Canada's 150th In Song at The Baldachin Inn

Vocalist Karen Oxorn isn't the first Ottawa jazz musician to focus a show on Canada's 150th birthday this year, but she's taken an interesting and different approach. She's listened to CDs by her favourite Canadian jazz artists – including "Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, Susie Arioli, JUNO winners this year Bria Skonberg and Diana Panton, Denzal Sinclaire, Carol Welsman and k.d.lang" – and picked jazz standards which they've recorded. She's topped those off with more Canadian content: non-jazz songs by Céline Dion and Leonard Cohen.

Karen does her research: every time we've heard her, she's been extensively prepared with a smoothly-flowing set, and told the audience lots of background about the music and the artists. She'll perform with her quartet (pianist Nick Gummeson, bassist Ken Seeley, and drummer Nenad Duricic) at the dinner show, which will be hosted by the Baldachin Inn in Merrickville – a favourite venue for her and a frequent location for Merrickville's Jazz Fest.

The Karen Oxorn Quartet will perform in the Dining Room at the Baldachin Inn, 111 St Lawrence Street, in Merrickville, Ontario (about an hour's drive south of Ottawa) from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 3. Reservations are required at 343-925-0229. The cost of the three-course dinner and show is $49. More info.

We send a full-featured JazzScene newsletter detailing dozens of live jazz events every week to donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you!' to those readers who pay the costs of producing OttawaJazzScene.ca and helping us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Would you like all the details of what's going on in jazz in Ottawa? Please donate.