Ottawa guitarist Sean Duhaime was inspired by a new collaboration and by the death of one of his musical heroes for the music he'll present in concert this Wednesday evening.

Sean Duhaime ©Brett Delmage, 2015
Guitarist Sean Duhaime with drummer Jansen Richard ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Duhaime's long-time jazz fusion trio, with bassist Laura Greenberg and drummer Jansen Richard, will be joined by two guests for their show at at Live! on Elgin – vocalist Doressa Dorcilhomme and keyboard player Nathaniel Clarke.

Dorcilhomme was a 2017 finalist in the Ottawa Bluesfest's “She's the One” competition for local vocalists. Duhaime said she sings neo-soul and R&B, and will sing some tunes by Robert Glasper, Sade, and Erykah Badu on Wednesday.

Clarke has had a closer connection to Duhaime – they've both been playing in the local hip-hop/funk/soul group, BlakDenim. Over the last year, they found they had a lot in common musically.

Playing with Clarke inspired Duhaime to write “nearly 15” new compositions which incorporated keyboards into his sound for the first time: “I never thought I wanted to have a keyboardist”. One of the new songs, “Opportunity” is dedicated to Clarke.

“We've been taking a lot of time to rehearse the music, and Nathaniel took a lot of time to practice. We just tried to figure it out and make a new voice, a new repertoire for this music and this band.”

He described the music they'll play on Wednesday as “a little bit more funky and rockin' – something that has a lot more energy to it”, although he also does have some pure jazz compositions. He'll also be playing music from the EP the trio released last year, although Clarke will be sitting out their best-known piece, “Bert”.

Clarke said he thought Duhaime's music was “really something to aspire to. Just by listening to it, or just from reading the music charts, you can tell that there's a story behind it, from song to song. I guess over time he got inspired and that's the whole art behind composing songs. It's like an everyday journey, an inspiration like he mentioned.”

“It's not something superficial, I believe. It's something that's really heartfelt. Hopefully by Wednesday people have the sense of what he's been inspired by, and from there we can evoke those emotions and those experiences of what he's been going through in terms of working his compositions.”

At the show, Duhaime also wants to pay tribute to a jazz fusion musician who has influenced him from the beginning of his career: British guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who died April 16. The group will play pieces by Holdsworth on Wednesday.

“I grew up listening to rock and roll music from when I was a child, and when I picked up the guitar, I was inspired by listening to Allan Holdsworth and all the great jazz fusion musicians, before I was into pure jazz.. When I found out about Allan Holdsworth, I was heartbroken, and I thought about maybe getting back into that style of music."

The trio doesn't often play in Ottawa, partially because all three members are busy in other non-jazz bands – Greenberg, for example, regularly tours internationally with blues guitarist J.W. Jones. In addition, Ottawa audiences don't necessarily want to hear the same band every month, Duhaime said, so he decided to limit their shows to three times or four times a year – “taking our time to just focus on what we can do to make the audience to appreciate the music”.

But, at this point, he said, he “wanted to get back into the scene. I just really wanted to play my own music, and perform to express myself musically.”

The Sean Duhaime Trio with Laura Greenberg and Jansen Richard will perform at Live! on Elgin (220 Elgin Street, at Lisgar Street, 2nd Floor) on Wednesday, August 23, at 8:30 p.m. They will be joined by guest vocalist Doressa Dorcilhomme and keyboard player Nathaniel Clarke. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the cover charge at the door is $8.0

Read a related story by OttawaJazzScene.ca: Jazz Monday: The Sean Duhaime Trio fills Le Petit Chicago with fusion