Updated April 5, 2017

Update May 4: The five Canada Scene jazz concerts being co-sponsored by the Ottawa Jazz Festival were finally officially announced this morning: David Occhipinti's Camera Ensemble (June 22); Erin Costelo (June 23); Gord Grdina's Haram (June 24); Al Muirhead Trio featuring Guido Basso (June 25); and Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms (June 26). All are Canadians, and all will be performing in the NAC Back Stage at 6 p.m.

The National Arts Centre announced today some of the Canadian jazz musicians it will present as part of its Canada Scene festival to celebrate Canada's 150th.

The festival, which will run from June 15 to July 23, will present 1000 Canadian artists in more than 100 events in the National Capital Region, including music, theatre, circus, dance, visual arts, film, and culinary arts. It announced its full line-up this morning.

Six jazz groups will be presented at the NAC in joint concerts with the Ottawa Jazz Festival between June 22 and 26. They include:

  • Toronto guitarist David Occhipinti’s Camera
  • Vancouver guitarist/oud player Gord Grdina with his Haram project
  • Calgary trumpeter Al Muirhead and his straight-ahead quartet, with Alberta bassist Kodi Hutchinson, Toronto flugelhornist Guido Basso, and Ottawa pianist Brian Browne. Hutchinson told OttawaJazzScene.ca that Browne has replaced the originally-announced Don Thompson.
  • Montrealer improviser, saxophonist and objects player Jean Derome
  • and two more concerts, which have not yet been confirmed.

The highest-profile Canada Scene jazz concert was announced last fall: the July 10 “Oscar, with Love” tribute in Southam Hall – with six renowned jazz pianists, but ironically not all Canadian, playing on Peterson's own beloved Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano, which will travel to Ottawa for this occasion. The evening will be hosted by Peterson's daughter, Céline. [See the OttawaJazzScene.ca video interview with Robi Botos about that show]

The NAC will host free Scene@6 concerts in its new Atrium, from July 2 to 23 at 6 p.m. each day. The series will include shows by “top folk, roots, world, and jazz artists”. Afro-Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas – from Ottawa – will perform there on Monday, July 10, before Oscar, with Love. de Armas gained multiple standing ovations for his concert with Jane Bunnett at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival in February.

Ottawa’s Atlantis Jazz Ensemble and the Montreal jazz/orchestral pop group Bellflower will also perform in Canada Scene's Scene@6. More groups will be announced later.

Jesse Stewart and audience members interact with sampled sounds on his Reactable at the Guelph Jazz Festival ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Jesse Stewart and audience members interact with sampled sounds on his Reactable at the Guelph Jazz Festival ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Ottawa improvising/jazz musician Jesse Stewart has been compiling hundreds of music samples drawn from Canadian music and popular culture. He will be loading them into his Octamasher – a “raucous, interactive audio installation made up of eight repurposed keyboards arranged in an octagon. Each keyboard has a particular musical function (drum loops, vocals, bass lines, riffs, and more), but they are all connected to a central computer, which enables them to work together musically.”

All those music samples will be available through the Octamasher – by pressing on a keys, which will play song loops and pre-programmed beats instead of notes. Stewart worked closely with MOLDOVER, the creator of the Octamasher, to develop this Canadian Remix.

The Octamasher will be installed at the NAC for all of July, allowing anyone to create their own Canadian Remix. And on July 14, three Canadian DJs will join Stewart in a 20-minute demo before inviting members of the audience to join in.

Several years ago, artist David Rokeby's “Very Nervous System” musical installation was set up at Carleton University, and musicians (including Stewart) performed in collaboration with it, evoking its sounds through their movements and music.

For Canada Scene, the NAC and the Music and Beyond Festival are presenting two collaborations between pianist Eve Egoyan and Rokeby's installations. On July 16, you can hear their collaborative work: with Egoyan’s live performance of the late Canadian composer Ann Southam’s composition “Simple Lines of Enquiry” and Rokeby’s video installation “Machine for Taking Time”

Egoyan and Rokeby will also join forces on “Surface Tension”, an interdisciplinary work for disklavier (an acoustic piano with a computer interface) and interactive video. Egoyan’s performance at the keyboard will be “transformed and interpreted by a computer into live visual images projected onto a screen rising from the body of the piano”.

Canada Scene is the culmination of a biennial series of “Scene” festivals, starting with Atlantic Scene in 2003 and each emphasizing the culture of a specific region of Canada. The Canada Scene line-up was unveiled by Canada Scene producer Heather Moore at a launch where all the music – live and recorded background – was explicitly Canadian.

Many of its events will be co-sponsored with festivals, including the Canada Dance Festival, Music and Beyond, Chamberfest, and the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Moore told OttawaJazzScene.ca that these were festivals they'd often worked with in the past. “So we got in touch with them when we knew a Scene was happening, to see if we had programming in common, and things that would interest us.”

Since the Ottawa Jazz Festival was already presenting shows at the NAC, “it made perfect sense to come up with some Canadian work here. So it was a matter of finding out where our commonalities are and finding out how we could do more together.”

With the jazz events, she and the jazz festival's programming manager, Petr Cancura, talked together about possible artists. In partnering with local galleries or festivals, she said, “we look to them for the programming ideas. In the case of the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra that we're presenting with Chamberfest, we both had our eye on that organization! In the case of Eve Egoyan, she was on our list and we found she was also on Julian's list! Those things happen organically.”

“Certainly we're not experts in everything, and we defer to our partners who are more specifically in certain genres to help us with programming.”

See the developing Canada Scene line-up and ticket information.

    – Alayne McGregor

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Updated April 5, as we learned that Brian Browne would perform in Al Muirhead's quartet instead of Don Thompson.