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.

The Hoffman-Lemish Quartet ©Brett Delmage, 2016
At their first appearance in Ottawa two years ago, the Hoffman-Lemish Quartet packed Black Squirrel Books, with large numbers of standees and people sitting on the floor, and earned an immediate standing ovation at the end of their show. ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Sunday, June 10, 9 p.m.: The Hoffman-Lemish Quartet at Black Squirrel Books

The Hoffman-Lemish Quartet is a boundary-spanning group in several senses. Guitarist and oud player Amos Hoffman is from Israel but is now based in the U.S. Pianist Noam Lemish is an Israeli-American jazz pianist and composer currently based out of Toronto. Their rhythm section, brothers Justin Gray (bass) and Derek Gray (drums) are also from Toronto.

The quartet also crosses genre boundaries. At their last show here in 2016, they combined classic mid-60s jazz a la Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, with Middle Eastern motifs, and with an adaptation of the theme from Bach's Orchestral Suite in B Minor.

This week, they're on a short CD release tour of New York State, Ontario, and Quebec for their first CD as a quartet, Pardes. Ottawa is the last stop on the tour. The new CD blends jazz, North African and Latin rhythms, as well as melodies that come from various Jewish communities across the Middle-East and Eastern Europe. Hoffman and Lemish have been collecting Jewish melodies from different parts of the world for years, including Kurdish, Yemenite, Moroccan, Russian, Central Asian, and Israeli songs.

Hoffman is known as a "pioneer in fusing the rhythms and melodic themes of the Middle East with modern jazz", and has released five solo albums, as well as playing on albums by Avishai Cohen, Kiko Berenguer (Spain), and Jan Mlynarski (Poland). In 2013 he was awarded the Landau Prize for Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievement in the field of Jazz. Lemish has several recordings to his credit, including The Turning (2016), Nightfall (2013), and Yes And (2008).

At the quartet's 2016 show – also at Black Squirrel Books – we were impressed by the commanding tone of Hoffman's oud and the unadorned and compelling simplicity of his guitar playing. He was well-matched by the dynamic interplay from the other quartet members, in particular Justin Gray's inventive use of his bass (Justin is a notable composer on his own and will be bringing his own Indian subcontinent-crossover jazz group to Chamberfest this summer.)

They alternated between pieces by Hoffman and by Lemish, in a intimate and varied show, modulating their volume to the space so that you could clearly hear every note. The audience listened intently, and at the end, gave a standing ovation.

It was a warm and engaging show, and it will be interesting to hear this week how the quartet has developed in the last two years.

Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca review of this quartet's 2016 concert in Ottawa: The Amos Hoffman Quartet adds classical and Mid-East motifs to mainstream jazz

The Hoffman-Lemish Quartet will perform at Black Squirrel Books on Sunday, June 10, starting at 9 p.m. The admission charge at the door is $10. Black Squirrel Books is located at 1073 Bank Street near Sunnyside Avenue, across the street from the Mayfair Theatre. OC Transpo routes 6 and 7 stop immediately in front of the store. There's lots of bike parking nearby and bike access via Bank, Sunnyside, or the Colonel By/Queen Elizabeth Parkways (and their associated multi-use pathways).

The quartet's CD release tour also includes PAUSA Art House - Buffalo, NY (June 2); Lula Lounge - Toronto (June 3); Jewish Community Center - Rochester, NY (June 6); Silence - Guelph, ON (June 7); Diese Onze - Montreal, QC (June 8 & 9).

OttawaJazzScene.ca announces our pick of the week every Sunday, covering the following Monday to Sunday, in order to give listeners more notice of shows they might want to buy tickets for before they sell out.

Every week all season long we send a full-featured Jazz Bulletin with our Live Jazz Guide full of dozens of live jazz events including this concert to our donors. It's our way of saying 'Thank you! to readers who help us shine a spotlight on the scene all year long. Support OttawaJazzScene.ca and discover a lot more jazz every week