There's lots more heartfelt jazz to hear in Ottawa-Gatineau in the final half of November. Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's independent look at what's bright in jazz in a traditionally grey month.
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On Thursday, November 24, the Quebec chamber jazz group Esmerine make their yearly trek to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. A perennial favourite for both jazz and world music fans, the group is centred on cello and percussion with other instruments like violin adding special touches. Its music incorporates genres such as drone music, post punk, and Turkish folk. Esmerine won an Juno for Instrumental Album for Dalmak .
Also that evening, the Carlos Alberto Santana Jazz Band officially releases its debut CD, Oye Latino, in a show at the Mercury Lounge. You can read about the circuitous path Santana took to releasing this album in the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview.
On Thursday, November 24, saxophonist Petr Cancura begins a new year of his National Arts Centre Crossroads folk/jazz series, the time in the NAC Theatre with local singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. The idea behind the series is that Cancura works with the folk musician to create jazz arrangements of their sonigs; they then perform the arrangements together, along with jazz musicians Roddy Ellias, John Geggie, and Greg Ritchie. OttawaJazzScene.ca reported the first of these collaborations in video, with Ian Tamblyn [Petr Cancura and Ian Tamblyn combine jazz, folk in satisfying Crossroads concert] and reviewed the second Crossroads show with Lynn Miles. Expect the singer-songwriter ethos to predominate over the jazz arrangements.
Korean percussionist and vocalist Dong-Won Kim is Carleton University's music artist-in-residence this fall, and has been offering a series of Friday morning masterclasses to students on listening and composition. OttawaJazzScene.ca's editors have seen him perform several times at the Guelph Jazz Festival and have been very impressed by his inventiveness and responsiveness in the moment.
On Friday, November 25, Dong-Won Kim reunites with Ottawa percussionist and Carleton University professor Jesse Stewart. The two musical friends have performed several times together in Ottawa, Guelph, and elsewhere. They'll perform two shows at GigSpace, freely improvised, with each energizing and engaging the other with different instruments and ideas. Dong-Won Kim plays specifically Korean drums and gongs, but has also been known to create music from whatever's at hand – even drumming on a convenient piano.
On Friday, November 25, local saxophonist and flutist Rene Lavoie collaborates with Toronto flutist Bill McBirnie in the Court Mais Jazz series at La Nouvelle Scène. Together with Tim Bedner on guitar and Normand Glaude on bass, they'll play a varied selection of classic jazz tunes: Brazilian melodies, standards like “In a Sentimental Mood”, classic bebop and post-bop tunes by Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Mobley, and Horace Silver – and some Miles Davis and Monk.
The series has an unusual format, including National Film Board short films interleaved with the music. Read our review of the first show in the series with Sienna Dahlen.
McBirnie will also give a free masterclass at noon on November 25 at Carleton University, in the Patrick Cardy Studio (A900) in the Loeb Building.
The last show in this year's Buckingham Buzz Jazz series, on November 25, opens with a reprise of Caroline Cook's and Martine Grenier's Now is the Time show from earlier this month. They will be followed by a rare appearance by Florquestra, which combines authentic and lively Brazilian rhythms (samba, forró, axé, and more) with the romantic music and poetic style of French songwriter Georges Brassens.
Also on November 25, guitarist and vocalist Rômmel Ribeiro pays tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim at the Marshes, along with Miguel de Armas and bassist J.P. Lapensée.
Michel Delage has brought in some excellent musicians from other Canadian cities for his monthly tribute series at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge. He's got a real catch this month. On Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26, he and bassist Alex Bilodeau will perform with renowned French pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, who is currently based in Montreal and teaching jazz at McGill University. Pilc was last in Ottawa in 2015, in a joyous and tender trio show at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival [read our review]
They’ll reinterpret the music of pianist Thelonious Monk – a composer whose work is so notoriously individual and immediately recognizable that any musicians playing his compositions must walk a very fine line between excessive reverence and not staying true to the bones of the music. Pilc promises “lots of improvisation and lots of fun” in the shows, but says he hasn't yet picked which Monk tunes the trio will play. As he writes with a twinkle in his keyboard: “I love all of TM's music so I don't really have favorites, or rather, they are all favorites of mine.”
This is the second time Delage has paid tribute to Monk: the first was with Hamilton pianist Adrean Farrugia 18 months ago [review]
On Sunday, November 27, the trio will perform a shorter version of this tribute in an afternoon show at The Record Centre in Hintonburg.
On Saturday, November 26, Ottawa vocalist Steve Berndt will give a sneak preview of his upcoming CD when he appears at GigSpace, together with Steve Boudreau on piano, Alex Mastronardi on bass, and David Pontello on drums. Berndt has written a number of original songs for the album, which will be his first solo release: he'll present those along with pop tunes from the 60's and 70's done in a jazz treatment.
Berndt has released two duo albums of standards with pianist Brian Brown, Déjà Vu and All Over Again, each of which included one of his own songs evoking the classic feel of jazz standards. He's also written many originals for the jivin' jump blues/jazz group The Jivewires for their five albums.
Also on November 26, the NAC will again present Polaris and Juno-winning throat singer Tanya Tagaq with two notable improvisers – percussionist Jean Martin and violinist Jesse Zubot – this time in the NAC Theatre. And at the Mercury Lounge, you can hear the dancing rhythms of the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra on November 26. The orchestra, which was nominated for a Juno this year, fuses Colombian percussion with the music of gypsy brass bands from Eastern Europe.
On Sunday, November 27, the new jazz series at the Church of the Ascension in Ottawa East will showcase Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio. OttawaJazzScene.ca was particularly impressed with this trio's mix of Balkan melodies and fiery improvisation when it was premiered at Le Petit Chicago in 2014, and is glad to see Wellman reviving it. [review] Wellman says he's excited at how the rehearsals are going, with himself on alto sax, Mike Essoudry on drums, and Keith Hartshorn-Walton sitting in on tuba. He expects they will be including at least a couple new tunes. We reported about the positive experience at the first Ascension Jazz series show last month.
Ottawa-Gatineau is jam-packed with with jazz jams, in locations across both cities and on many days of the week: Jazz Mondays at Le Petit Chicago in Gatineau, Tuesday jams with the Beeched Wailers at The Wellington Eatery in Hintonburg, Wednesday jams at Café Nostalgica in Sandy Hill, Thursdays with the HML Trio at Brookstreet in Kanata, two Fridays a month at the Georgetown Pub in Ottawa South, and JazzWorks' monthly Sunday afternoon jams in Westboro.
Now a new monthly jam is starting: at the Record Runner Studios on Colonnade Road in central Nepean. The open jam will run from 7 to 10 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month: November 27 this month.
Interested in the Ottawa Jazz Festival’s financial and operational results this past year? On Monday, November 28 at 6 p.m., the Festival holds its annual general meeting in the Colonel By Room on the second floor of Ottawa City Hall, where it will elect next year's board of directors and hear reports from the treasurer, the president, and the executive director. Read our reports about what happened in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012
Looking for a more harmonious experience? Also on November 28, the Carleton University Guitar Ensemble will hold a free recital in the Patrick Cardy Studio, Room A900 in the Loeb Building at the University.
And if you'd prefer a larger sound, the Stan Clark Orchestra will fill the Metropolitain Brasserie downtown with big band fanfares and the vocals of veteran Ottawa crooner Johny Vegas on November 28.
Peeking into December, the first week is extremely busy with vocals and instrumentals, and everything from classic favourites to the avant-garde. We've already got details of 19 events in just the first five days of December! Donate to our reader funding campaign to be one of the first to learn more about them.
– Alayne McGregor