Modasaurus ©Brett Delmage, 2016
James McGowan and J.P. Lapensée of Modasaurus ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Each week recommends a live jazz or improvised music performance in Ottawa-Gatineau from the dozens of live jazz events in the comprehensive Jazz Bulletin we send to donors. There's a lot of wonderful jazz being presented, so it's often a difficult choice.

Saturday, February 10, 2018: Modasaurus CD Release Concert at GigSpace

Everything in Modasaurus has at least a double meaning. The Ottawa group's name refers to musical modes and also to dinosaurs – and then also to the multiple word meanings in a thesaurus. The title of their debut album, Two Intents, can be heard as a reference to double meanings and intentions – or to the intensity with which the group plays its compositions.

And each of those compositions features more than one meaning behind its name. As the group notes: "For example, Prime Time features pre-chorus and chorus sections composed with phrasing with prime numbers, while at the same time creating an "epic" sound meant to be heard in prime time; and the disco-funk Cereal and Eggs brings together a melody and chord progression based on 12-tone serial music with a repeating melodic motif of E-G-G."

Did we mention they also like puns?

The group plays  jazz fusion, but again on several levels. Their tunes have many aspects of classic 70s jazz fusion (electric guitar and bass, strong grooves), but also explore other traditions: Latin, Middle Eastern, Hindustani.

Modasaurus is also a fusion in another sense: between pianist and composer James McGowan, and the three members of the HML Trio: guitarist Alex Moxon, bassist J.P. Lapensée and drummer Jamie Holmes (who are also three-quarters of the Chocolate Hot Pockets). They originally met at Carleton University, where McGowan teaches and the trio studied music.

The group has been playing together since 2016. This show is the official release concert for their debut album, Two Intents. Ottawa saxophonist Mike Tremblay, who is featured on two tracks on the album, will guest at the concert. has heard Modasaurus in concert several times. As you might guess from their dinosaur-inspired name, the group has a big sound – not excessively loud, but full-bodied and complex. Most of their repertoire is original compositions by McGowan, which use the talents of all four, and allow for considerable interaction and interplay.

The result: music that is both multi-layered and highly listenable.

Read our previous articles about Modasaurus

Modasaurus (James McGowan - piano, Alex Moxon - guitar, J.P. Lapensée - bass, Jamie Holmes - drums, and special guest Mike Tremblay - saxophones) will perform at GigSpace in Ottawa on Saturday, February 10, starting at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7). Tickets are $20 and may be purchased in advance on the GigSpace website, or at the door for cash. GigSpace has only 46 seats, so advance purchase is suggested. GigSpace is located within in Alcorn Music Studios at 953 Gladstone Avenue, one long block west of Preston Avenue. OC Transpo route 14 runs by GigSpace; route 85 runs down Preston Avenue nearby.

The CD Two Intents will be available for sale at the concert as a CD or a digital download. See the Modasaurus website for more details. releases its pick of the week on Sunday, covering the following Monday to Sunday, in order to give listeners more notice of shows they might want to attend before they sell out.

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