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, December 9, 2018: IMOO #186 - HMMH at General Assembly

HMMH: Fleur de Chaos
HMMH released its latest album, Fleur de Chaos, in 2018 on the Ambiances Magnétiques label.

Eerie, haunting, reverberant, innovative. Those are some of the words you can apply to the music of the group HMMH (Hétu - Martel - Mouchous - Hübsch). Composed of well-known members of Quebec's avant-garde jazz and creative music scene, the quartet has just released a new album Fleur de chaos. They'll be showcasing this album in an IMOO series show at General Assembly on Sunday.

Saxophonist and composer Joane Hétu has co-directed the Ensemble SuperMusique, a major force in Quebec's jazz scene, since its founding in 1998, as well as the weekly series Mercredimusics since 2002. Pierre-Yves Martel's main instrument is the viola da gamba, but he has reinterpreted this traditional instrument for a new century, creating "an authentic musical language through non-conventional techniques and instrumental preparations", He he also works outside of instrumental music altogether, using a variety of objects rife with new sonic possibilities, from contact-mics and speakers to motors, wheels, surfaces and textures. Ottawa audiences have most often heard composer and tuba player Carl Ludwig Hübsch through his trio with Martel, Hübsch Zoubek Martel, which plays improvised music characterized by the transparent overlaying of wonderful timbres through intelligent-but-spontaneous structures. Émilie Mouchous "makes electronic instruments that induce touch and movement that find their context in improvised performance and installation. Inventor of the term 'mouth feedback,' she uses a panoply of everyday and absurd objects, and enjoys 'playing the spaces' that receive her."

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!

Friday, November 30, 2018: Malcolm Goldstein and Jesse Stewart at GigSpace

Music must be written down, in staffs with key signatures and time signatures and notes. That's the assumption behind most Western music.

Not so, says pioneering violinist, composer, and improviser Malcolm Goldstein. For the last 50 years, Goldstein has been showing that there is an alternative. He's been a noted innovator in creating graphic musical scores: in the form of written words, or pictures, or symbols. He's collaborated with (and also disagreed with) avant-garde musicians such as John Cage and Ornette Coleman.

He's also a noted improviser - his "Soundings" improvisations have been acclaimed in North America and Euope for "extending the range of tonal/sound-texture possibilities" of the violin and "revealing new dimensions of expressivity". He's also integrated structured improvisation into his compositions.

Back in the 1960s, he was challenged to create music in-the-now by a New York dancer troupe. “Why don't you just walk around the room and play something?” When he asked them what he should play, they replied, “Anything you want.” And so he did, improvising as they danced.

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!

Ethan Ardelli ©Brett Delmage, 2015
Ethan Ardelli ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Saturday, November 24, 2018: The Ethan Ardelli Quartet CD Release at GigSpace

Toronto drummer Ethan Ardelli and his quartet are currently on a cross-Canada tour promoting the release of the group's debut album. The three-week tour has extended from Denham Island (off Vancouver Island) in the west, to Ardelli's hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia in the east. GigSpace will be their final stop.

Although The Island of Form is Ardelli's first CD as leader, he has years of experience in Toronto's and New York's jazz scenes. He was in David Virelles' Quintet which won the 2006 Grand Prix de Jazz at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and then played on Virelles' subsequent CD along with Deniz and Henderson. He has also played on two JUNO-winning albums, Jane Bunnett's Radio Guantanamo and Mike Downes' Ripple Effect. He currently performs in Toronto groups led by Darren Sigesmund, Nancy Walker, Brian Dickinson, and Harley Card, and has also played with international artists Dewey Redman, Mark Turner, Mark Feldman, Jeremy Pelt, George Mraz, Mulgrew Miller and Greg Osby. 

OttawaJazzScene.ca was impressed with Ardelli's performance with Allison Au's quartet at the 2015 Merrickville's Jazz Fest. He's also played multiple times in the house band at the Ottawa Jazz Festival jams and in John Geggie's former Invitational series at the NAC Fourth Stage.

Ardelli's group has been together since 2014. It's a high-powered quartet of fine Toronto musicians, whom we haven't seen enough recently. Saxophonist Luis Deniz, who was born and educated in Cuba, has played with David Virelles, Kirk MacDonald, Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, and Mark Turner. He was last in Ottawa at Chamberfest in 2017 and before that at the Carleton U Jazz Camp in 2015. Pianist Chris Donnelly was nominated for a JUNO Award for his Solo piano album, as well as for his trio Myriad3, and has been frequently heard at Cafe Paradiso and the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Bassist Devon Henderson (also originally from Nova Scotia) has played with Michael Kaeshammer (in Ottawa and elsewhere), Robi Botos, and David Virelles.

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

J.P. Allain and Nicole Ratté ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Vocalist Nicole Ratté praised pianist J.P.Allain for his understanding of Michel Legrand's style at her previous tribute concert to Legrand in 2017. ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Saturday, November 17, 2018 - Nicole Ratté Jazz Quintet: Tribute to Michel Legrand at La Grange de la Gatineau

On his website, French composer Michel Legrand says that he puts “a great deal of faith in melody. … Nadia Boulanger always said: 'Put whatever you want above and below the melody but, whatever happens, it’s the melody that counts.' For example, modern music tends to bore me now. It does of course contain innovative rhythmic and contrapuntal devices but, without melody, its lifeblood, it is lifeless and this helps to dehumanize it. For my part, melody is a mistress to whom I’ll always be faithful.”

Legrand has carried forth this commitment in producing some of the most beautiful melodies of the 20th century. He has written classic tunes including “The Windmills of Your Mind”, “I Will Wait For You”, “Sea and Sky”, and “You Must Believe in Spring” – songs which were touchstones of film scores and which have become jazz standards. He's written hundreds of songs, recorded more than a hundred albums, and produced over 200 film and television scores. He's won three Oscars, five Grammy Awards, and won or been nominated for dozens of others.

For Ottawa jazz vocalist Nicole Ratté, Legrand is one of her very favourite composers. She performed a tribute concert to him in 2017 at Les Brasseurs du Temps. It was a “un coup de foudre” (love at first listen) for the audience, who applauded strongly from the first song onwards. (View photos of the performance)

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

Sunday, November 11, 2018: 2018 Battle of the Big Bands at Greenfields

updated Nov 10: tickets may also be purchased at the door according to new information from Greenfields

On another Sunday night 80 years ago, two big bands full of big names - many recognizable to even casual jazz fans today - took to the stage of The Savoy Ballroom in a historic evening of swing battle. The bands were there to compete for the attention and praise of jazz fans and swing dancers. In an evening filled with tension and drama, Count Basie’s band went head-to-head in a tight competition against drummer Chick Webb’s band. Read the Downbeat article about this epic battle.

Ottawa jazz fans can experience some of the same excitement hearing two of Ottawa’s big bands: Big Band Ottawa and The Wild Cards, going to “battle” this Sunday (Remembrance Day) while helping raising money for the Support our Troops charity.

The evening will be a friendly event full of music, but not “cutting.”

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

Holly Cole ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Holly Cole with her long-time pianist Aaron Davis in her previous NAC show ©Brett Delmage, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2018: Holly Cole at the National Arts Centre Theatre

UPDATE: Read OttawaJazzScene.ca's review and photos of this concert

It's amazing how many songs Holly Cole has made her own. "Girl Talk". "Santa Baby". "Blame It on My Youth". "I Can See Clearly Now". "My Foolish Heart".  "Don't Smoke in Bed". While still remaining true to a song and not adding extraneous musical gestures, Cole inhabits a song, creating a definitive version.

The Canadian jazz vocalist has always combined standards from the Great American Songbook with her own jazz interpretations of more modern songs, by musicians including Tom Waits, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson, and Lyle Lovett. She keeps to classic jazz arrangements (piano, horns, bass, drums), and a minimalist style that allows her expressive voice and the lyrics to shine through.

It's been almost three decades since the Holly Cole Trio made its debut, and in that time, Cole has developed a huge following of jazz and pop listeners in Canada and abroad. At her sold-out Christmas show at the NAC in 2012, you could hear the enthusiasm in the audience even before the music started. She has also inspired a generation of jazz singers who came after her, including Emilie-Claire Barlow and Amy Cervini.

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

Rachel Beausoleil ©Brett Delmage, 2017
Rachel Beausoleil singing Jobim at the GigSpace MicroFest ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Sunday, October 28, 2018: The Rachel Beausoleil Trio at GigSpace

Rachel Beausoleil's devotion to Brazilian jazz is deep and sincere. She's played regularly with Brazilian musicians, studied with masters of vocal jazz in Brazil, and recently completed a PhD in that topic at Carleton University. Her thesis was on Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), which includes most of the music that we would refer to as Brazilian jazz.

She also sings that music regularly in concerts here. For this Sunday afternoon show, she's teaming up with regular collaborator Garry Elliott on guitar, whom we've heard assuredly evoking the Brazilian feel of the music – and with a new colleague, Ottawa percussionist Liz Hanson.

Hanson is a classically-trained percussionist who has also extensively studied Brazilian music and rhythms. A few years after taking her university degree in classical percussion, Hanson moved to São Paulo, Brazil, living there for 2½ years. She studied Brazilian folk drumming part-time, and played an instrumental music group with young people there part-time, as well as recording an album there called Espaço Imaginário. She's learned many of the hundreds of different kinds of rhythms in that country. She's most often been heard in Ottawa in Rob Frayne's projects, but also runs a women's community drum group called Diga, Diga, Da.

The trio will play "gems from the Brazilian popular music repertoire that took the world by storm sixty years ago and is still an international treasure".

Read more about Rachel Beausoleil's love of Brazilian jazz and Música Popular Brasileira, and about Liz Hanson:

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

Normand Glaude ©Brett Delmage, 2017
Normand Glaude ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Sunday, October 21, 2018: Toots' Suite with Normand Glaude at the NAC Fourth Stage

About 6 years ago, we began hearing Normand Glaude play chromatic harmonica in addition to his supple double bass performances. It was an extra voice – expressive and sensitive – which added new textures and emotion to his shows with jazz vocalists and instrumentalists. Glaude often included pieces by Toots Thielemans, the Belgian jazz musician who was the acknowledged master of the jazz harmonica. If you expressed the slightest interest, he would tell you all about Toots and his compositions and why he enjoyed listening to his recordings.

It's an opinion we strongly agreed with: we'd heard Thielemans in concert several times at the Ottawa and Montreal Jazz Festivals, and each time were delighted by his performance and the joie de vivre he injected into his music.

Glaude has continued to refine his harmonica expertise and add more of Thielemans' pieces to his repertoire. Last year he took the major step of presenting a full tribute to him, first in a sold-out concert at GigSpace and then in a very well-received show at the summer Ottawa Jazz Festival. Alayne heard the festival show and was impressed by how well researched it was and how well it connected with the audience, with melodic and multi-layered jazz. It featured Thielemans' signature compositions along with other songs Thielemans regularly played that captured his unmistakable sound.

Now Glaude is taking this show to the NAC, with an expanded group of accomplished Ottawa jazz musicians – Steve Boudreau on piano, Tim Bedner on guitar, Tom Denison on bass, and Scott Latham on drums. He's also adding new tunes to reflect this bigger line-up. Expect melody, interaction, and a painless and fun introduction to jazz harmonica.

Read our interview with Normand Glaude's about his love of Toots Thielemans' music and the jazz harmonica: Normand Glaude on jazz harmonica: "it's the emotion in people's faces that rewards me the most".

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

Diane Nalini and Adrian Cho (photo by Lukas Romsicki)
Diane Nalini and Adrian Cho (photo by Lukas Romsicki)

Friday, October 12, 2018: The Diane Nalini Trio at GigSpace

Diane Nalini is best known in Ottawa as the resident vocalist with the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, but she also performs in much smaller ensembles. For this show she's collaborating with two acclaimed Ottawa musicians accustomed to playing in vocal trios – pianist Mark Ferguson and double bassist John Geggie – in the intimate listening hall at GigSpace.

She promises jazz adaptations of songs from across the Americas in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, plus recently-written original songs which she'll be recording for her next project.

Nalini has released four CDs over the past decade, and performed at festivals around the world. She won second prize in the UK's Young Jazz Vocalist of the Year awards in 2001, and was one of two finalists for the Grand prix de jazz at the 2002 Montreal International Jazz Festival. She has given gala performances for President Bill Clinton and Sir Paul McCartney.