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Way North at mixing board. l-r: Michael Herring, Richie Barshay, Petr Cancura, Rebecca Hennessy
Way North (l-r): Michael Herring, Richie Barshay, Petr Cancura, Rebecca Hennessy
photo by Diana Piruzevska

Wednesday, September 11, 2019: Way North at Irene's

This Wednesday is a rare chance to hear the cross-border group, Way North. It's a quartet which contains three notable Canadian jazz composers: saxophonist Petr Cancura from Ottawa and trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy and double-bassist Michael Herring from Toronto – plus drummer Richie Barshay from Brooklyn. They're on a three-city mini-tour this week – Ottawa, Toronto, and the Guelph Jazz Festival – and playing new material.

Cancura is prominent in Ottawa's jazz scene, leading his own groups and playing in Ed Lister's Prime Rib Big Band; he was nominated for a JUNO for his album Down Home. Hennessy leads the FOG Brass Band and is co-leader of the chamber jazz group Hobson’s Choice. She was included in Christine Jensen's “=” Jazz Orchestra at this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival as a soloist and as one of the featured composers. Herring co-leads and composes for the JUNO-nominated group Peripheral Vision, as well as for his jazz quartet and sextet. Barshay regularly collaborates with Cancura, and has played with everyone from Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Esperanza Spalding, to Fred Hersch and Kenny Werner, to Pete Seeger.

They describe their group as “four musicians who love to use jazz and improvisation as a means of exploring folk and world music”. In other words, more melodic and nuanced than your average jazz quartet, with touches of “blues, old-time, Balkan, Brazilian, and Calypso”. It's music that's fun to play and to hear, with “street-beats and dancing good times”. Their second album contains waltzes, calypso, ballads, Mississippi beats, Balkan-jazz grooves, and two medleys of songs by ragtime pianist Jelly Roll Morton.

In January, after a tour that began in Halifax and ended in Saskatoon, Way North recorded its third album, which won't be released until next year. But audiences on the tour will get a preview: Herring told OttawaJazzScene.ca that their setlist will be mostly new material, plus likely a tune or two from their two albums.

One of their new tunes is Herring's “Come Over To Our House”, which he says they'll not only play but get the audience to sing along to. You can see the band play that song at the 2019 Open Waters Festival in Halifax, on YouTube

The band has performed twice in Ottawa, once in 2016, and most recently last November at the NAC Fourth Stage, when they released their second album, Fearless And Kind. Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Petr Cancura about that show and the band: An episodic journey Way North

Living in three cities, it's not easy for them to get together, Herring says. “We’re really excited for the chance to play (and sing songs in the van too).   We’re really grateful to the Guelph Jazz Festival for inviting us which was the impetus to do this tour.”

They did get together recently for a happy occasion: Barshay's wedding, “where we got to play some music together while celebrating with him.

Read our interview and story about Way North

Way North (Petr Cancura - saxophones, Rebecca Hennessy - trumpet, Michael Herring - bass, Richie Barshay - drums)  at Irene's Pub on Wednesday September 11, from 8 to 11 p.m. Seating is limited so arrive early for the best seats. Cover is $15, payable at the door.

Irene's Pub is at 885 Bank Street, just south of 5th Avenue in the Glebe. OC Transpo routes 6 and 7 serve it. Try the OC Transpo Trip Planner to find your trip to this 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.