Every Sunday OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Saturday, April 13: Sundown Saturdays: The Garrett Warner Quartet at the Art House Café

Garrett Warner ©Brett Delmage, 2018
Garrett Warner ©Brett Delmage, 2018

Starting last summer, young Ottawa guitarist Garrett Warner has been running a regular invitational series at the Art House Café in Centretown. Each month, he puts together a bass-drums trio (this month Caylan Penny on bass and Andrew Ferderber on drums), and invites a well-known musician from Ottawa's jazz scene to play with the trio.

This time it's the strong, multi-genre trumpeter Ed Lister, known for his groups The Chocolate Hot Pockets and ERU-ERA on the groove and jazz-funk side, and the Hard Bop Association, and his Prime Rib Big Band on the mainstream jazz side. He also plays in many other jazz and funk-soul groups in Ottawa. Lister was one of Warner's first guests in this series last July. This time, they'll play a different repertoire.

"The last Sundown Jazz show with Ed was very standards heavy but this one will be limited on standards," Warner told OttawaJazzScene.ca. "All the standards being played will be re-arranged and the reason being that this show is going to be more groove oriented and fusion inspired. Caylan, Andrew, and myself have done some work together as a fusion trio (PB&Funk), and I thought Ed would make a great collaborator because of his writing is already very modern and groovy."

They'll primarily play originals from Warner and Lister: "He hasn’t told me what he will be bringing in yet but he always pulls material from a few of his projects. I imagine it will feature some ERU-ERA tunes as well as Hard Drop Quintet material. We will also be playing some classic fusion material as well as some modern repertoire."

All the musicians have performed together before, but not in this exact arrangement. "I’m very excited about it because I already know how adventurous and fun it’s going to be. It’s going to be very electric! Ed and I work together quite a bit in Angelique Francis’ band so it’s exciting to get to work together more outside a blues context."

The Art House Café is located just outside downtown proper on Somerset Street West at Bay. It's an old, much-converted mansion, accessed from the street by a large staircase leading into an open terrace. Its main floor is divided into a warren of rooms, with a large bar/coffee bar and kitchen at the front. It's also an arts hub, with varied paintings and drawings by local artists filling every open space on the walls. Concerts are held in a smaller, intimate room to the left of the main entrance. You might want to look for a seat nearer the back, given the expected power of this group.

Every Sunday OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Saturday, April 6: Christine Fagan & Garry Elliott present jazz inspired interpretations of Joni Mitchell at GigSpace

Growing up, Joni Mitchell loved the sound of Miles Davis’ Sketches Of Spain and the jazz vocalese group Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. Her initial albums in the 1960s, however, were in a simpler, folk-oriented vein: poetic and introspective songs just accompanied by guitar or piano.

But starting in 1974, she took a new, more jazz-oriented path. That year, she released Court and Spark, which closed with her interpretation of the Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross satirical jazz classic, “Twisted”, and she toured with Tom Scott’s L.A. Express jazz band, several of whose members had played on that album.

Each week OttawaJazzScene.ca's editors highlight a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Jean-Michel Pilc (photo by Conor Nickerson
Jean-Michel Pilc (photo by Conor Nickerson)

Last August, Ottawa guitarist Roddy Ellias met French pianist Jean-Michel Pilc at the JazzWorks jazz camp – and they formed “an instant musical bond”.

They performed twice in Ottawa in November, and are now returning for an even busier time this weekend, with two concerts, a masterclass, and an evening jazz gig.

Pilc is an internationally renowned jazz pianist and composer. He's best known for his inventive trio with bassist François Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig, but he's also played with musicians including Roy Haynes, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Chris Potter, and Harry Belafonte. He moved to Montreal in 2015 to join the music faculty at McGill University, and has since played with and taught many musicians in Montreal's jazz scene, as well as creating an Improvisation Workshop Project with musicians who include Rémi Bolduc and Kevin Dean.

In 2011, Pilc performed at the Ottawa Jazz Festival with Moutin and Hoenig. He returned at the 2015 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival with another trio for a well-received concert, whose final number we described as “tender and joyous, a natural extension of the music he'd previously performed, [which] eventually propelled itself to a fast-paced and satisfying conclusion.” [our review] In 2016, he played an incisive trio tribute to Thelonious Monk at Brookstreet with locals Alex Bilodeau and Michel Delage.

Each week OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

March 19: We regret to report that the entire Fête INDÉO has been cancelled.

CANCELLED: Thursday, March 21: Fête INDÉO Soirée jazz at Christ Church Anglican Church, Aylmer

The Delphinus Quintet ©Alayne McGregor, 2017
Delphinus (with André Massicotte on trumpet) opens the jazz evening.
©Alayne McGregor, 2017

Fête INDÉO is a three-day festival of Canadian music in Aylmer, curated by three independent producers. Thursday, March 21 is the jazz night, curated by André Massicotte. Friday features folk music and Saturday presents blues with the Lucas Haneman Express. See the full schedule

The mini-festival opens on Thursday night with jazz. The headliner, the Jean-Pierre Zanella Quartet, will perform at 9 p.m. The quartet will highlight the 60 years of Bossa Nova.

Saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella is one of the great names in Quebec and Canadian jazz. He has seven solo albums to his credit. Caminho received a Félix nomination (1994). Mystic Infancy was awarded the Opus Prize for Best Jazz Record in 1998. Puzzle City received both the Opus Award for Best Jazz Album in 1999 and a JUNO nomination. In 2011, the Montreal International Jazz Festival gave Zanella the Oscar Peterson Award.

His most recent album is Quattro Venti [2016], recorded with Quebec artists in Italy, and inspired by Italy's grande bellezza.

Entouré de ses musiciens, Jean-Pierre Zanella offre un jazz contemporain qui reste enraciné dans les traditions du jazz. Ainsi, il joue avec des métriques variées, alternant entre musique d'ambiance et pièces plus rythmées. Dans une parfaite complicité, le groupe repousse les frontières avec beaucoup d'énergie et d'interaction.

Every Sunday OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose so it's often a difficult choice!

Friday, March 15: Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita with Gustavo Ovalles at Salle Jean-Despréz (Gatineau City Hall)

Cuban born-and-trained and seven-time Grammy nominee Omar Sosa will stop in Gatineau on Friday – as part of a tour that just visited NYC, plays through Québec this week, and then continues to California before wrapping up in Europe, where Sosa now lives.

He''ll play with his Transparent Water Trio: Sosa on jazz piano, Seckou Keita from Senegal on kora and vocals, and Gustavo Ovalles from Venezuela on percussion.

Keita plays the kora, a 21-string African harp, in a blazing flurry of notes to more contemplative runs. Both he and Sosa draw experiences from Cuban, African and jazz improvisation. Long-time collaborator Gustavo Ovalles performs on a variety of hand drums and percussion.

Ed Lister's Prime Rib Big Band at Carleton University ©Brett Delmage, 2018
Ed Lister's Prime Rib Big Band performing at Carleton University ©Brett Delmage, 2018

Each week OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Wednesday, March 6: Ed Lister's Prime Rib Big Band 2nd Anniversary Party at Irene's Pub

Ed Lister's Prime Rib Big Band celebrates its 2nd Anniversary Party at Irene's Pub on Wednesday. The show marks two years of popular monthly performances at the Glebe neighbourhood music venue and pub, where the band has attracted a steady audience.

The band’s style is very much rooted in big band swing in the style of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk, and others, but much of its material is new charts written for this band by leader Ed Lister. On Wednesday they’ll showcase more brand-new, original material.

Sam Kirmayer ©Brett Delmage, 2018
Sam Kirmayer at his quartet show at Record Runner Rehearsal Studios ©Brett Delmage, 2018

Each week OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Saturday, March 2: The Sam Kirmayer Quartet at GigSpace

Montreal guitarist Sam Kirmayer is steeped in the jazz guitar tradition of Wes Montgomery and Grant Green – and reinterprets them in his own voice. He's an articulate and fluid guitarist, and a stimulating composer, unapologetically in love with the hard bop idiom. He doesn't use effects, instead creating a  clear, direct tone that speaks emotionally and honestly.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's review of Kirmayer's show in Ottawa a year ago described his music as a collection of approachable tunes which flowed easily from one to the other, in a friendly and inviting show which consistently evoked warm applause from the audience.

Last September, he released his second CD (this time on the high-profile Vancouver jazz label, Cellar Live), and performed another packed and well-received concert here with the same guitar-organ trio who played on that album. We were impressed with both the album and the show.

In 2018, Kirmayer won the Julian Award for Excellence for Emerging Canadian Artists, a prize given by Simon Fraser University's CJSF 90.1FM to an album by a young Canadian jazz up-and-comer. CBC Music also included him in their list of "The 35 Best Canadian Jazz Musicians Under 35". He has a degree in Jazz Performance from McGill University (2016) with Outstanding Achievement, and is very active in the Montreal jazz scene, with several weekly performances including hosting a weekly jam session in Saint-Henri and frequent appearances as both a leader and sideman at all the city's major jazz clubs.

On Saturday, he'll perform at GigSpace with a different group of younger players: two Montrealers, pianist Andres Vial and bassist Jonathan Chapman, along with drummer Ben Zweig from New York. All of them have notable experience. Vial has performed with famed guitarist Peter Bernstein (among many other Quebec and American jazz musicians), including on Vial's 2018 album Sphereology Volume One, a rethinking of the music of Thelonious "Sphere" Monk. In its review, JazzDaGama described the album as including "beautifully-crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness".

Each week OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Thursday, February 21, 2019: Samuel Bonnet CD Launch: "Oriental Blue" at the Avant-Garde Bar

Samuel Bonnet (image provided by artist)
Samuel Bonnet (image provided by artist)

Montreal guitarist and composer Samuel Bonnet will launch his new album, Oriental Blue, this week in Quebec and Ontario. The album combines both North American, European, and Middle Eastern influences: "The 'Blue Notes' of Jazz flirt here with the oriental 'melisms', the memories of his native Israel mingle with the scents of Andalusia and Jewish scales combine with North African rhythms."

The tunes are "a poetic journey" inspired by different musical traditions: flamenco, klezmer, gnawa, jazz, and Latin music. They also have a visual dimension: "Oriental Blue" is Bonnet's name for "ultramarine" blue, made from lapis-lazuli, a precious stone prized by painters and jewellers for its intensity since the time of the ancient Egyptians.

The concert will feature Bonnet and French saxophonist Mathias Wallerand, whose roots in Lebanon and Armenia are also reflected in his playing. In performances "fed by jazz and contemporary music", their musical dialogue explores "all the resources and dynamics" of both their instruments. They've performed this music for several years, most recently on tour last October, including in Ottawa.

Each week OttawaJazzScene.ca highlights a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau in our comprehensive Live Jazz Guide. There's a great deal of interesting, new jazz to choose from every week, so it's often a difficult choice!

Sunday, February 17, 2019: Karen Oxorn presents Nancy Wilson: The Great American Song Stylist at Music@Mill Road

Karen Oxorn ©Brett Delmage, 2016
Karen Oxorn's tribute to Nancy Wilson is the latest in a long series of concerts she's presented honouring her favourite jazz vocalists. ©Brett Delmage, 2016

In a 50-year career, vocalist Nancy Wilson recorded more than 70 albums. She won three GRAMMY Awards, an Emmy Award in 1968 for her NBC TV series, The Nancy Wilson Show, and was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2004. She sang pop, soul, R&B and jazz: her website says she blurred the line between jazz singer and pop singer, preferring to be called a “song stylist.”

But jazz fans remember her particularly fondly. The album she recorded in 1961 with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley has proven to be a jazz vocal classic: Adderley helped launch Wilson's career as a major jazz vocalist, and convinced her to emphasize more sophisticated jazz and ballad material. She also recorded with George Shearing, Ramsey Lewis, Toots Thielemans, Grover Washington, jr., Gerald Wilson, and Hank Jones.

In a 2007 interview with the National Endowment for the Arts, Wilson said, “I've always surrounded myself with great jazz musicians although what I was singing might not have been considered jazz. It's probably because I did not scat in the Ella or Betty Carter tradition. Because I didn't do those things, maybe some of the jazz critics did not think that I was [a jazz singer]. But it didn't bother me. I figured if I was true to myself, if I sang the things I liked, it would touch people's heart and their ears and they would hear, and they would feel. I think that that's what a master is, if you can do that.”

She died in December, and among those remembering her music with affection is Ottawa jazz vocalist Karen Oxorn. On Sunday, Oxorn, together with Tim Bedner on guitar and Ken Seeley on bass, will present a tribute concert: Nancy Wilson: The Great American Song Stylist.

Oxorn says that Wilson was "one of my favourite interpreters of the timeless standards of the Great American Songbook". She originally conceived the tribute  as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Wilson's debut album Like In Love, but "it has become a fond and appreciative look back at her lengthy and influential career".

The show will include songs from across Wilson's career, beginning with her debut recording, Like In Love from 1959 up to her 2006 CD entitled Turned To Blue. The audience will hear well-known standards – "Almost Like Being In Love", "Fly Me To The Moon", "Teach Me Tonight", "This Time The Dream's On Me", "What A Little Moonlight Will Do" – and Oxorn will particularly feature Wilson's signature tune, "Guess Who I Saw Today", which she describes as "a beautiful testament to love with a surprising twist".