Super Awesome Club / Carleton University Jazz Fusion Ensembles
Kailash Mital Theatre, Carleton University
Thursday, November 27, 2014 – 7 p.m.

In the late 60s, jazz musicians started picking up electric instruments and incorporating musical ideas from rock, funk, and R&B – and jazz fusion was born. And it's stayed vibrant ever since, as a concert last Thursday at Carleton University showed.

The Super Awesome Club played highly listenable, fast-moving music at their Carleton University concert, with a definite fusion feel. ©Brett Delmage, 2014
The Super Awesome Club played highly listenable, fast-moving music at their Carleton University concert, with a definite fusion feel. ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Headlining was a long-time Ottawa groove/jazz band, the Super Awesome Club – torn out of its usual haunt of Irene's Pub in the Glebe. They were preceded by three student ensembles, directed by Carleton jazz instructor – and Super Awesome Club member – Wayne Eagles.

Why the “Super Awesome Club”? Because, unlike some jazz musicians, these ones don't take themselves at all seriously.

“We're awesome and we're super and bingo! We added two and three together and got the Super Awesome Club,” says drummer Matt Ouimet. “And everyone's a member who comes to see it because everyone's welcome in our club! But we're very important in that club. We might be the leaders.”

Three of the group's members – Ouimet, Steve Boudreau on keyboards, and Jake von Wurden on electric bass – met in Ottawa and formed the group close to a decade ago; Eagles (electric guitar) joined three to four years ago.

But because one or another was almost always touring or working elsewhere, they'd only really get together during the holidays – particularly Christmas – for a blow-out show at Irene's, with lots of laughter. Von Wurden moved back to Ottawa about a year ago, which has allowed the group to get together more regularly and possibly record.

Their aim: to make their music more approachable to all listeners. Eagles described their music as “a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a lot of improvisation but there's a groove to it. As Matt once described it in an interview: it's like jazz but it doesn't suck. Just good tunes.”

“They're all goofy,” Eagles said. “That's what they are. They're super awesome guys and a lot of fun and they're all goofy. It's all about the jokes for this.”

At Carleton, the group played all originals: fast-moving and definitely fusion-influenced, sometimes bluesy, sometimes funky. The music had a large dynamic and rhythmic range – and was highly listenable.

The show was being simulcast on CKCU-FM (on “Infinite Ceiling”) and the band members used that for comic effect, claiming that they couldn't announce the names of the songs because they were too raunchy and not fit for broadcast. You can hear the show (minus song titles) on CKCU's Concerts on Demand at cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/19721.html.

The Super Awesome Club will be back at Irene's for a Boxing Day show on December 26. Also on the bill will be Friends on Friends, which plays instrumental interpretations of Beach Boys songs and includes both Boudreau and Ouimet, as well as Philip Shaw Bova on drums.

Student ensembles demonstrate wide range of styles in jazz fusion

Opening the show were three student ensembles, which demonstrated the wide range of styles available in fusion – but all with a strong electric guitar vibe. The first combo opened with “I Got a Woman” by Ray Charles, with their vocalist giving it an intense soul feel, followed by an original, and “Pretzel Logic” by Steely Dan.

The second combo, whose pieces included a number by jazz drummer Tony Williams and the funky “Sista Strut”, leaned more closely to the rock side of fusion with screaming guitars and hard drumming – starting out loud and staying there throughout.

The third combo added tenor sax to the standard guitar/bass/drums, and had a greater diversity in sound and tempo. They played hard-edged fusion pieces by Williams, John Scofield, and one original: energetic, sometimes funky, but very catchy and with a good mixture of dynamics.

The concert was one of many which Carleton University's music department presents at the end of each term, showcasing the work of its different student ensembles. They include shows by student jazz, fusion, and contemporary guitar ensembles, as well as the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra, which includes many Carleton students. They're inexpensive or free ways to hear classic jazz with great sound.

Tonight (Thursday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), you can hear the pure jazz ensembles, under the direction of Mark Ferguson and Clayton Connell, at Kailash Mital Theatre. Their show will include music by Horace Silver, James Moody, Henry Mancini, and Canadian composers Roddy Ellias and Matt Devost.

And if you miss that, all the ensembles will be back for end-of-year shows in late March and early April.

    – Alayne McGregor

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All photos © Brett Delmage, 2014
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The Super Awesome Club:

Carleton University Jazz Fusion Ensembles: