Put electronically-processed vocals and keyboard on one side of the stage, and trumpet, clarinet, sax and drums on the other, in an improvised "electronic versus acoustic" mix and you've got the quirky start of the first Jazz Workshops series on Friday June 25. Anchored by versatile local jazzmen Mike Essoudry (drums), Linsey Wellman (sax, bass clarinet) and Craig Pedersen (trumpet), the music had an appealing range of dynamics and new sounds and textures to keep the curious engaged - and wake them up from after-lunch drowsiness.
The sizable crowd of listeners who stretched their ears during the first workshop were given a respite in the second set, as the Mighty Popo of Rwanda (guitars, vocals) and more African musicians, played with series Curator Petr Cancura (saxes) to present a more traditional sound.
The third set featured local vocalists Steve Berndt, Renée Yoxon, and Christine Fagan showing The Power of Song.
The free Jazz Workshops series continues on Wednesday June 30 with `Working it`on the theme of `originals` by JazzWorks alumni and faculty, followed by `New Directions` where double-bassist John Geggie, percussionist Olivier Fairfield and some special guests will explore different ways of expressing musical ideas; and `Reeds Meet Strings` with guitarist Roddy Ellias, saxophonist Petr Cancura.
On Friday July 2, Sonic scavenger Jesse Stewart directs his Balloon Orchestra and Paperphonics ensemble in a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with free jazz players: `It’s Only a Paper Balloon`. Finally, Ottawa saxophonist Mike Tremblay will lead a workshop on the ‘top end’—featuring just saxophone, brass and percussion. What happens when you take all the bottom out?
The series will close with `Jagged Lines`: Adam Saikely and Wayne Eagles conduct an electro-acoustic journey that blends improvisation and composition.
– Brett Delmage
All photos ©Brett Delmage, 2010