January, 2015: The jam moved to the Georgetown Pub in Ottawa South because Christopher's couldn't get a lease renewal from its landlord.
A new band, a new location, new organizers – everything came together for a new jazz jam in Ottawa last month.
And it's returning for its second set this Friday.
On November 7, OttawaJazzScene.ca arrived at Christopher's, a cozy Greek restaurant near Mooney's Bay. It was shortly before the jam was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. – and the front parking lot was already completely full.
Inside were many people eating heaping platters of Greek food, and chatting animatedly in two different sections of the dining room. Lots of guitar and horn cases were piled near tables and sitting in corners. The sign-up sheet for the jam was being passed from table to table, and getting carefully filled in.
The host band, MMAD-Men, was also new. This was the group's first public appearance, but the group (Michael Lechasseur on bass, Marc Salsbury on guitar, Andre Ferraton on drums, and Dmitry Egunov on alto sax) opened the jam smoothly and competently. Beginning with the Miles Davis classic, “All Blues”, they played a set of classic jazz instrumentals featuring strong bass lines and an overall swinging feel.
It was easy to hear the band (aside from an annoying and frequent door chime), and there was a happy, generally listening vibe in the audience.
During the host band's set, there was a steady stream of new arrivals; by 8 p.m., most seats were taken. The organizers had no problem starting the jam off, with some of the host band staying on-stage, but adding a steady stream of horn players, guitarists, and vocalists.
The jam is the brainchild of jazz fan Jacquie Dixon. With the enthusiastic help of vocalist Betty Ann Bryanton, she had been talking up the jam for the previous month, creating posters and on-line ads. She said she was delighted at the turnout, and the amount of local talent participating. Many JazzWorks jazz camp alumni were present.
The jam continues this Friday, December 5. The host band will be Mango Upstart, a local Latin band making its first public appearance since 2012.
– Alayne McGregor