Jesse Stewart ©Brett Delmage, 2011 David Mott ©Brett Delmage, 2013 Ernst Reijseger ©Brett Delmage, 2014
(l-r) Jesse Sterwart, David Mott, and Ernst Reijseger
share a common passion for making music
in the moment   photos ©Brett Delmage

When Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger, Toronto baritone saxophonist David Mott, and Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart first played together in Toronto in 2014, it was a memorable concert.

“He's a showman,” Stewart recalls. “The concert we did in Toronto, it was actually at David's karate dojo. Towards the end of the concert we knew this was going to be the last piece and Ernst stood up and was playing while he was walking.

“And he left the room, and he was still playing! He was in another room where there was all David's martial arts equipment and while he was still playing cello and walking, he started knocking stuff over with his foot. We could hardly play because we were laughing so hard. It was so, so funny! But, yes, he's a showman, that's for sure. But also incredibly musical and just a wonderful improviser.”

More about Ernst Reijseger
• Ernst Reijseger takes risks to create unpredictable music
• Ernst Reijseger at Chamberfest: reinventing how audiences see and hear the cello

The three will reunite in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 26, for a late-night Chamberfringe concert. It's one of several concerts which Reijseger is performing at the 2016 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, but, unlike the others, this concert will be leaning much more in the direction of free jazz.

The show at La Nouvelle Scène will mark the official release of Different Dreams, the CD that the trio recorded two years ago in Toronto – but it won't recreate the music on the CD. Instead, like the trio's previous shows and the CD, it will be completely improvised. Nothing will be determined in advance.

It's a style of making music that all three have decades of experience in and love doing. Both Stewart and Mott are well-known as inventive jazz improvisers; Ottawa audiences most recently saw them together in March creating music in the moment with William Parker in the Sonoluminescence Trio.

For them, music is a passion that doesn't run just 9-5.

“Yes, they are fanatics, you know! And this is why it's great to work with them. They are fanatics in a very nice way, in a positive sense,” Reijseger said.

“It's the most important thing in their lives, the expression through music. And it's really lovely to meet people that have such an experience doing this, for such a long time.”

Different Dreams (Reijseger/Stewart/Mott) CD cover
Different Dreams (Reijseger/Stewart/Mott) CD cover

Reijseger first met Mott in 1985, in the quintet of famed avant-garde jazz drummer Gerry Hemingway. Together with trombonist Ray Anderson and bassist Mark Helias, they immediately made an album together called Outerbridge Crossing, “which I still consider a very good album”.

The two played together several more times over the years, and always stayed in contact, with Reijseger even taking some martial arts lessons from Mott. “He's absolutely amazing. It's about understanding the energy that comes towards you and being able to divert it to its source. It's so quick-thinking, and at the same time it's by understanding slow movements really well. So there's a lot to say in musical expression like that.”

“So, yes, it's a joy to meet [up] with him.”

Two years ago, with Reijseger scheduled to play at the Guelph Jazz Festival, Mott arranged the house concert and a recording session in Toronto for the three of them, just before the festival. Mott has known Stewart since the 1990s, and played with him in many different groups, but this was the first time Stewart and Reijseger had met. And all three were very happy with the result.

“That was a treat,” Mott said. “We just had a wonderful time.”

“It was gorgeous how that went! Their sense of proportion and their feeling of how you work with contrast – it worked! It was all fine,” Reijseger said.

“Ernst is another one who's just an extraordinary musician. His level of virtuosity is astonishing,” Stewart said.

Their trio album was originally supposed to be released in a show at last year's Chamberfest, but Reijseger had to cancel all his concerts at the last minute because his mother died. Stewart and Mott performed instead with Ottawa bassist John Geggie, in a far-reaching, completely improvised, concert which stretched each of them.

Reijseger described next Tuesday's concert as essentially “instant composing”, without needing any rehearsal.

“We will make up the repertoire as we go along. I don't think there will be only one concept to show for it. It will be diverse, showing a lot of diversity and still also really compositional work. Storytelling will be part of it, although we make it up on the spot.”

    – Alayne McGregor

Percussionist Jesse Stewart, baritone saxophonist David Mott, and improvising cellist Ernst Reijseger will perform in a Chamberfringe concert at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, at La Nouvelle Scène.

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