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!

Wayne Eagles, T. Bruce Wittet, Phil Bova ©Brett Delmage, 2019
(l-r) Wayne Eagles, T. Bruce Wittet, Phil Bova perform in the Record Centre tent at the 2019 Ottawa Jazz Festival ©Brett Delmage, 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019: Eagles/Bova/Wittet at the Options Jazz Lounge, Brookstreet Hotel

Wayne Eagles, Phillip Victor Bova, and T. Bruce Wittet are old friends, and they've been playing together more frequently in the last few months, They're also long-time members of the Ottawa jazz scene, each with two hats: Eagles as a jazz guitarist and director of the jazz fusion ensemble at Carleton University; Bova as a bassist and a well-respected sound engineer and owner of a studio where many local musicians have recorded; Wittet as a drummer and music journalist.

We heard the trio perform at the Record Centre tent at this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival: a set of jazz fusion tunes with a distinct ECM vibe. Alternately calming and exciting, the atmospheric music combined standards like "Little Sunflower" with flowing originals.

The same group has returned to play on Friday at the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel in north Kanata, for a longer show. Expect an electric vibe: Eagles will be on electric guitar and Bova on electric fretless bass, but one that's more thoughtful rather than overly hard-hitting. Eagles says they'll focus on his compositions, plus material by jazz greats including John Abercrombie, Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk, and John Scofield. This won't be a one-of performance either: they'll be back playing in Merrickville's Jazzfest in mid-October and Eagles said they're also looking at recording some tunes.

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!

Barrhaven Jazz Series at Anabia ©Brett Delmage, 2018
An interested crowd at the November show in the Barrhaven Jazz Series at the Anabia Cupcakery Cafe ©Brett Delmage, 2018

Friday, August 9, 2019: The Barrhaven Neighbourhood Jazz Series at Anabia Cupcakery Cafe

Where can you go to hear jazz in Ottawa? Most places people think of are in the central core, even through many listeners - and musicians - live in the suburbs. Just over a year ago (July 13, 2018), jazz musician Keith Hartshorn-Walton resolved to get jazz out to his neighbourhood, Barrhaven, playing with musicians who lived there as well. The series, at a local bakery cafe, has proven successful: locals like getting a jazz fix in their own backyard, and musicians love being only 5 minutes from home.

It will celebrate its first anniversary this week, with three experienced musicians who have performed together many times: Steve Berndt on vocals, Keith Kanwisher on bass, and Hartshorn-Walton on his third instrument, the piano. Though all three play in the group Safe Low Limit, Hartshorn-Walton said the show will instead be featuring Berndt and his material as the main attraction.

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!

Hilario Duran at Chamberfest ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Hilario Durán (standing, centre) at the "Cuban Connection" concert at the 2012 Chamberfest. (l-r) The Gryphon Trio's Annalee Patipatanakoon, Drew Jurecka, Durán, Roberto Occhipinti, Roman Borys. ©Brett Delmage, 2012

Friday, August 2, 2019: Chamberfest presents the Hilario Durán Trio at La Nouvelle Scène

Hilario Durán is regarded as one of the greatest living Cuban pianists - and he's a Canadian. He's performed with jazz greats Arturo Sandoval, Chucho Valdés, Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D'Rivera, Michel Legrand, and Omara Portuondo, and his 2007 album From the Heart was nominated for GRAMMY award. In 2007, he received the 2007 Chico O’Farrill lifetime achievement award in Miami for his outstanding contributions to Afro-Cuban jazz and Latin Jazz.

It's been 21 years since the pianist, composer, and bandleader left Cuba for Toronto - and he's become a backbone of Toronto's jazz community. He's been nominated seven times and won twice in the JUNO Awards for his own groups, as well as playing on many of Jane Bunnett's JUNO-winning and nominated albums. He's won numerous National Jazz Awards, and, in 2013, the Toronto Musicians Association named him Musician of the Year.

Durán was last here in Ottawa in 2018, at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival, where he led a 17-member orchestra playing his award-winning big band compositions [read our interview with Duran about that project]. But he's been featured equally often at Chamberfest, playing both Afro-Cuban jazz, and music which crosses the chamber music/jazz borders.

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!

Wednesday, July 24: Nicholas Bracewell Farewell Concert at Live! on Elgin

Nicholas Bracewell ©Brett Delmage, 2019
Nicholas Bracewell led the host band at Le Petit Chicago in April ©Brett Delmage, 2019

All good things must come to an end. Nicholas Bracewell, whose drumming has enlivened Ottawa's jazz scene since January, is returning to Vancouver.

Bracewell came to Ottawa because his wife was studying here. He's been performing around Ottawa, at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge, the Art House Café, and at Le Petit Chicago, where his quartet hosted the late-night Jazz Mondays jams in April.

His farewell concert at Live! on Elgin will feature him playing with that same quartet of well-known Ottawa jazz musicians: Alex Moxon on guitar, Peter Hum on keyboards, and Chris Pond on bass. Bracewell says they'll play originals by Hum, Moxon, and Pond, as well as a tune by Peter Bernstein and jazz standards.

At Le Petit Chicago, OttawaJazzScene.ca heard the quartet perform a mix of jazz classics by Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter, as well as originals by Hum and Moxon. The vibe was electric and elastic: in Moxon's “Crab Walk”, fluid guitar and bright piano soared over responsive bass and drums in a jazz fusion feel. Bracewell's strong drumming kept the energy up throughout, and in Coltrane's "26-2", he briskly traded 4's with Moxon.

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!

July 19-20: Festival Kafé-Karamel in downtown Gatineau

Fiesta Cubana ©Brett Delmage, 2018
Fiesta Cubana at its (indoor) Tropicana Night spectacular show ©Brett Delmage, 2018

Each summer, people in Gatineau celebrate summer with free outdoor concerts: jazz, Latin, world music, and unclassifiable combinations of all those genres. It's a good reason to cross the Ottawa River!

This weekend is Festival Afro-Latino Kafé-Karamel in downtown Gatineau (Vieux-Hull). It's an colourful outdoor party that takes place on the pedestrian path of Laval Street - a very different vibe from the grey federal government offices 4 to 5 blocks southwards. The sound is urban and tropical, with workshops, DJ's, live bands from Ottawa, Gatineau, and Montreal, and food and drink supplied in the bars and restaurants on the street. The free event is organized by Club Social Salsa Loca.

The festival is showcasing a number of hot jazz and jazz-related acts to match the melting temperatures expected this weekend:

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!

The Phoenix Jazz Group, photo by Chris Martin
The Phoenix Jazz Group (l-r: John Goddard, Greg Prior, John McLelland, Andy Klaehn). Photo by Chris Martin

CANCELLED: Saturday, July 13: The Phoenix Jazz Group at GigSpace

"Due to a sudden illness with one of their band mates the Phoenix Jazz Group regret they need to cancel Saturdays performance."

The Phoenix Jazz Group is five experienced jazz musicians from southern Ontario who play accessible original music, in a generally jazz fusion style. They've released three albums since 2009; the latest is Amparo [2018]. That means "protection" or "refuge" in Spanish; the album's title track is a fluent and thoughtful blending of instrumental voices, quietly enfolding the listener in melody.

Pianist John McLelland is the group's primary composer. He's performed with vocalists Rita Di Ghent, Jackie Richardson, Heather Bambrick, Barb Lica and instrumentalists Phil Nimmons, Rick Wilkins, Alex Dean, Peter Appleyard, Dave McMurdo, and Ted Warren, and has taught and performed in New Zealand as well as Canada. Andy Klaehn (clarinet and saxophones) teaches in the Faculty of Music at the University of Guelph, as well as playing in groups ranging from duos to sextets.

Percussionist John Goddard has performed with Carol Welsman, Peter Appleyard, Phil Nimmons, Shirley Eikhard and Heather Bambrick, and also performs and teaches classical music, including directing the University of Guelph Concert Winds and teaching Applied Percussion at the university. Bassist Greg Prior plays in both jazz (Big Band Theory) and classical (Waterloo Chamber Players); he's played at jazz festivals throughout Canada and at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and studied and performed in Havana, Cuba with the Latin jazz ensemble Masacote

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!

June 26 to 30: Free shows at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

Justin Duhaime ©Brett Delmage, 2019
Justin Duhaime (r) will bring his Gypsy Muse group with guests David Renaud (centre), William Lamoureux, and Edra Silva Cavada to the festival at noon on June 30 ©Brett Delmage, 2019

The Ottawa Jazz Festival is showcasing some local jazz groups performing free noon and afternoon shows. Check them out for free, then you’ll know that you’ll enjoy their evening club and concert shows throughout the year.

The festival offers free concerts from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in the large tent in Confederation Park. As well, the Queen Street Fare food hall (Queen Street between Bank and O'Connor) is presenting free shows in conjunction with the festival at 4 p.m. each day. (And in case you're wondering, the musicians are paid for these shows.)

Not all of these are jazz, however. Here are several we can recommend:

Wednesday, June 26, 12 noon:  CYJO 10th Anniversary Alumni Band (Confederation Park)
For many years, concerts by Nick Dyson's Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra were the place to hear classic and modern big band music, including by Canadian composers, played with energy and attention by talented Ottawa students and informed by Dyson's encyclopedic knowledge and love of big band music. Now musicians who played in that band will return for a 10th anniversary concert, playing 100% Canadian music. Read our story about CYJO's Rob McConnell tribute.

Wednesday, June 26, 4 p.m.: Pimienta Blanca (Queen Street Fare)
Pimienta Blanca ("white pepper") perform a spicy blend of Latin jazz and music from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Brazil – including by the Buena Vista Social Club, Rubén González, Chucho Valdés, Cal Tjader, Joe Henderson, and Antônio Carlos Jobim.

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!

Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22: The Nick Maclean Quartet at the Brookstreet Hotel Options Jazz Lounge

Nick Maclean ©Brett Delmage, 2018
Nick Maclean with his quartet in Ottawa ©Brett Delmage, 2018

In the 1960s, pianist Herbie Hancock released a series of quartet/quintet albums on the Blue Note label which continue to speak to jazz lovers today, with tunes which have become standards and a postbop ethos which is both approachable and musically invigorating. Ex-Ottawa and now Toronto jazz pianist Nick Maclean is one of those, and last year released a quartet album which he describes as a “love letter” to Hancock.

Rites of Ascension contains both his quartet's reinterpretation of classic Hancock tunes and new compositions inspired by their compelling and melodic vibe. “What we're trying to do with the quartet is to take the ethos of Herbie's 1960s Blue Note Quartet, but move it into the modern day – with modern compositions, with modern sensibility – and see where that ethos goes today,” Maclean says.

For this weekend, Maclean is bringing the acoustic quartet which actually played on the album: trumpeter Brownman Ali, bassist Jesse Dietschi and drummer Tyler Goertzen. Ali, who studied with Randy Brecker, is also a musician who encompasses both the jazz tradition and modern electric music, and has himself organized tributes, for example a recent five-week tribute to Miles Davis, each week dedicated to a different era in Davis' career.

Maclean has recently expanded the group's repertoire, with three new originals added since their last Ottawa show, and two further Herbie Hancock numbers folded in. With two nights at Brookstreet this time, they should have lots of time to explore all these numbers.

Both Maclean and Ali are powerful performers, Maclean with expressive piano lines and dense harmony, and Ali's trumpet lines ranging from floating and serene to  brash and exclamatory. Expect a crisp and clean and essentially acoustic sound in fast-moving show - with the occasional ballad like Hancock's gentle “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” or the summery “Driftin'” to leaven the more grooving numbers. And listen for impassioned pieces like Maclean's "Nation’s Unrest: A Tribal Conflict" or Ali's “The Madness of Nero” (which was a finalist in the USA Song Writing Competition).

Read OttawaJazzScene.ca's interview with Maclean about the quartet: Nick Maclean performs a love letter to Herbie Hancock

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.

Mark Ferguson ©Brett Delmage, 2019 Mike Tremblay ©Brett Delmage, 2018
Pianist/trombonist Mark Ferguson and saxophonist Mike Tremblay recorded their new quartet album, Appleface, with renowned Toronto jazz musicians Dave Young and Terry Clarke © Brett Delmage, 2018, 2019

Saturday, June 8, 2019: Ferguson/Tremblay/Young/Clarke CD Release at the Unitarian Church

It's been ten years since Ottawa saxophonist Mike Tremblay and pianist/trombonist Mark Ferguson released their first album together. Home has been a long-time favourite (and even an ear-wormer) for us, and we were delighted to hear they had recorded a new album, this time with the renowned and swinging rhythm section of bassist Dave Young and drummer Terry Clarke.

The combination worked, says Ferguson. “Listening to the album I marvel sometimes how Terry will... it’s almost like he has a sixth sense. He’s hearing what a soloist is doing, and really doing something complementary. And Dave’s the same way. Dave’s sense of swing is just amazing, and it makes you sound better. He’s easy to play with and they’re both so supportive, they make you sound better.”

The quartet will officially release the album, Appleface, in Ottawa on Tuesday in a concert at the Unitarian church. They'll perform the entire album, a varied collection of original tunes by Ferguson and Tremblay. They first performed them at GigSpace last September, and then recorded them in December. “For me, it was just really cool to hear my tunes come alive, with all these different perspectives that I had no real idea were there when I wrote these tunes,” Tremblay recounts.

Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Ferguson and Tremblay, in which they explain the unexpected story behind the album's title, the important role audiences played in its development, and the tribute they included in it to a late Ottawa jazz master.

Mark Ferguson, Mike Tremblay, Dave Young, and Terry Clarke will release Appleface in a concert on Tuesday, June 11, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve a seat (advised).

Get there! The concert is at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Avenue. The church is just off Richmond Road, east of Woodroffe Avenue and west of Broadview Avenue. The church has directions and a map. OC Transpo route 11 stops on Richmond Road close to the church, route 16 stops at Dovercourt and Sherbourne about 10 minutes walk away, and route 87 stops at Woodroffe and Richmond, about 12 minutes walk away. Try the OC Transpo Trip Planner to find your trip to the show!