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.
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