Every Sunday 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!
June 26 to 30: Free shows at the Ottawa Jazz Festival
The Ottawa Jazz Festival is showcasing some local jazz groups performing free noon and afternoon shows. Check them out for free, then you’ll know that you’ll enjoy their evening club and concert shows throughout the year.
The festival offers free concerts from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in the large tent in Confederation Park. As well, the Queen Street Fare food hall (Queen Street between Bank and O'Connor) is presenting free shows in conjunction with the festival at 4 p.m. each day. (And in case you're wondering, the musicians are paid for these shows.)
Not all of these are jazz, however. Here are several we can recommend:
Wednesday, June 26, 12 noon: CYJO 10th Anniversary Alumni Band (Confederation Park)
For many years, concerts by Nick Dyson's Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra were the place to hear classic and modern big band music, including by Canadian composers, played with energy and attention by talented Ottawa students and informed by Dyson's encyclopedic knowledge and love of big band music. Now musicians who played in that band will return for a 10th anniversary concert, playing 100% Canadian music. Read our story about CYJO's Rob McConnell tribute.
Wednesday, June 26, 4 p.m.: Pimienta Blanca (Queen Street Fare)
Pimienta Blanca ("white pepper") perform a spicy blend of Latin jazz and music from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Brazil – including by the Buena Vista Social Club, Rubén González, Chucho Valdés, Cal Tjader, Joe Henderson, and Antônio Carlos Jobim.
Thursday, June 27, 12 noon: Nicole Ratté Jazz Quintet - Tribute to Michel Legrand (Confederation Park)
Vocalist Nicole Ratté was devastated when Michel Legrand died this spring, shortly before he was scheduled to perform in Ottawa. He has always been one of her favourite songwriters, and she has several times performed this bilingual tribute to his music, with songs both familiar and less well-known, in a jazz setting with accomplished Ottawa musicians. See photos of her Legrand tribute.
Friday, June 28, 12 noon: Renée Landry (Confederation Park)
Landry is a powerful singer who combines jazz, R&B, and a bit of Amy Winehouse in her vocals, and is backed by powerhouse jazz musicians. Read our review of her Christmas show.
Saturday, June 29, 12 noon: The Chocolate Hot Pockets (Confederation Park)
The Chocolate Hot Pockets is a jazz/funk/neo-soul band with four talented young jazz musicians – trumpeter Ed Lister, guitarist Alex Moxon, bassist J.P. Lapensée, and drummer Jamie Holmes – who are heard in varied groups all over Ottawa. Read our review to get an idea of CHP's hard-edged groove, as well as quieter moments.
Saturday, June 29, 4 p.m.: Mélanie E. (Queen Street Fare)
Mélanie E. plays jazz interpretations of French and Quebec chanson, with Melanie Hartshorn-Walton's vocals anchored by guitar, drums, and husband Keith’s tuba. Read our interview with her and Keith about this project.
Sunday, June 30, 12 noon: Justin Duhaime's Gypsy Muse (Confederation Park)
Guitarist Justin Duhaime has been steadily gathering audiences for gypsy jazz in Ottawa with shows celebrating the music of Django Reinhardt and his successors. For this concert, he'll feature his favourite musical collaborators: fellow gypsy jazz guitarist Nabil Yaghi, double bassist Normand Glaude, violinist William Lamoureux, clarinetist David Renaud, and vocalist Edra Silva Cavada. Read our review of a recent show with many of these musicians.
Sunday, June 30, 4 p.m.: Patterns of Change (Queen Street Fare)
Patterns of Change is a local jazz quartet inspired by jazz of the 60s and 70s. They play original material along with music by some of their favourite musicians like Joe Zawinul, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk, arranged with some extra groove and funk. Read our review of the group's debut show.
In addition, the late-night festival jams, hosted by fine Ottawa and Montreal jazz musicians Roddy Ellias on guitar, Greg Ritchie on drums, and either Ron Seguin or John Geggie on bass, have no cover charge and often feature an interesting mix of visiting, local, and student musicians playing real jazz. They start at 10:30 p.m. in the ground-floor Grill 41 restaurant at the Lord Elgin Hotel, across the street from Confederation Park. Seating is first-come, first-served.
The festival CD/merch tent run by the Record Centre is offering concerts by local artists, some jazz, at about 5:30 p.m. each day. See our article for the list of shows.
And on Canada Day (July 1), the festival is offering free shows in its Confederation Park Tent. The TD Jazz Youth Summit and Stingray Rising Stars – talented young jazz players drawn from across Canada – are always worth hearing; they'll be performing from 2 to 3 p.m. Read our review of last year's ensemble. At 6 p.m., you can hear the Dirty Catfish Brass Band from Winnipeg play hot, spontaneous music in the New Orleans brass tradition.
The OLG Tent in the middle of Confederation Park (Laurier Avenue West at Elgin Street, opposite the festival gounds in front of Ottawa City Hall) offers concerts at noon from June 25 to June 30 and in the afternoon of July 1. Queen Street Fare (170 Queen Street between Bank Street and O'Connor Street) will offer shows at 4 p.m. from June 25 to 30. There is no admission charge to these series.
Any downtown bound-buses should get you close to these locations. Try the OC Transpo Trip Planner to find your trip to the show!
Get the details of this show and dozens of more jazz events every week in our Live Jazz Guide, available exclusively to OttawaJazzScene.ca donors and subscribers.