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.
Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m.: The Jon Ballantyne Quartet at the Almonte Old Town Hall
This Saturday, you can hear a jazz show with star power easily equaling the jazz festival. There's only one catch: it's out in the Valley, in Almonte, a 40-minute drive from Ottawa..
This show is the finale of the 2017-18 JazzN series, and, unlike the other shows in the series, it's a full-scale show at the Almonte Old Town Hall (known for its good acoustics), rather than a house concert.
Sakatchewan-born, long-time New-York-based jazz pianist and composer Jon Ballantyne has brought together a quartet of Canadian jazz musicians with their own strong jazz roots. Montrealer Rémi Bolduc is a leading alto saxophonist, known for both his own compositions and his fine reeinterpretations of the music of Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, and Oscar Peterson.
Torontonian Jim Vivian is arguably the finest jazz bassist in Canada, playing with the best in Canada and with international stars including Dave Liebman and Kenny Wheeler. This spring Vivian released a rare CD, Sometime Ago, featuring the late John Abercrombie.
Drummer and composer Alan Jones lives in Portland, Oregon, but is a dual US-Canadian citizen. In 2013, he brought an all-star, all-Canadian sextet - which included Ballantyne - to the Ottawa Jazz Festival for a memorable show. He and Ballantyne go way back, to studying at the Banff Centre, which inspired a sextet which also included Vivian.
Ballantyne was a laureate of the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1986. From 1989 to 1992, he played in the quartet of American tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, recording a JUNO-winning album with Henderson as guest (Skydance). In 1991, he recorded A Musing with celebrated jazz pianist Paul Bley, and began a period of free-form playing, but returned to playing some standards again by the mid-1990s.
He's performed with renowned American and Canadian jazz musicians including Dewey Redman, Billy Hart, Roy Haynes, Gene Perla, Pepper Adams, Drew Gress, Seamus Blake, Ingrid Jensen, Phil Dwyer, George Garzone, Dave Liebman, Donny McCaslin, Mark Turner, Matt Wilson, Ray Drummond, Joe LaBarbera, Herbie Lewis, Kevin Dean, Joe Lovano, Andre White, Gene Jackson, Boris Kozlov, Yannick Rieu, Kent Sangster, and The Mingus Big Band.
Over 31 years, Ballantyne has been nominated for four JUNO Awards, most recently for the experimental Twenty Accident Free Work Days in 2013 with Hugh Sicotte. He's played both very lyrical mainstream jazz and more experimental music; when OttawaJazzScene.ca reviewed his Ottawa Jazz Festival concert in 2014, his music was strongly linked to the melodic jazz tradition, in both his originals and in bop and classic Songbook standards. But in his own voice: "Each piece was reinvented: sometimes with a delicate tracery of notes, sometimes with supple ripples of sound. In Harris' “Freedom Jazz Dance”, for example, he played to either end of the piano, with deep bass rumbles underlying flickering treble notes."
With three other musicians also highly adept in extending and expanding on the tradition, it should be a concert well worth intent listening.
The award-winning New Sounds jazz quartet from J.S. McCrae Secondary School will perform before the concert, starting at 7 p.m.
Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca review of Jon Ballantyne's 2014 show in Ottawa:
The Jon Ballantyne Quartet will perform in the Ron Caron Auditorium at the Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge Street, in Almonte, Ontario, on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 each, available only on-line in advance at JazzN.
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