©Brett Delmage, 2017
Epoch leader/drummer Mike Essoudry has brought a great deal of his original music to this project ©Brett Delmage, 2017

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Mike Essoudry is giving compositions – which he says reflect our current times – their first airing this month, as his new Epoch Quintet hosts Jazz Mondays at Le Petit Chicago.

He's workshopping the tunes – many brand-new – with the quintet, which also premièred this month. When OttawaJazzScene.ca heard them on September 11, the music was rich, multi-layered, and strongly interactive. The room was mostly full, and the audience applauded strongly.

Essoudry has been a regular player in the decade-long series at the downtown Gatineau club, and several times used it as a place to try out new projects. The Jazz Mondays host band (which changes each month) plays a first set of approximately an hour, and then opens up the second set for other musicians to join in for a jazz jam.

He's gathered four other Ottawa musicians into the quintet, all of whom he's played with before in other groups. Guitarist Alex Moxon (the HML Trio and the Chocolate Hot Pockets) and saxophonist Zakari Frantz (the Souljazz Orchestra) are well-known on the scene, while bassist Phil Charbonneau has lately been playing more with indie groups like the Hilotrons. Pianist Roland Racz moved to Ottawa a few years ago from Hungary, where he had won many awards, and has been steadily increasing his profile here.

Besides being one of Ottawa's best-known jazz drummers, Essoudry is a prolific and inventive composer and bandleader. His projects have ranged from brass bands like the Bank Street Bonbons and the (former) Mash Potato Mashers, to more groove-oriented projects like his organ-drums duo Bumpin' Binary, and improvised groups like the two-drum Mirror Duo and his duo collaborations with Linsey Wellman. He also performs in high-profile Ottawa bands including the Rakestar Arkestra, the Back-talk Organ Sextet, The Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio, Megan Jerome and the Together Ensemble, and The Ottawa Jazz Collective.

For many years, he led his own Mike Essoudry Sextet, with musicians from both Ottawa and Montreal, which performed at the NAC Fourth Stage several years ago. The Epoch Quintet is a successor to that group.

OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor interviewed Essoudry about the quintet and his new compositions on September 11. You can hear him explain why it's called the Epoch Quintet, the origins of the music, why he picked this group of musicians, and where he's taking the music next in our podcast – and hear music from the show that night.

Listen to the complete podcast including the interview with Mike Essoudry and clips of "The Time is Now" and "Black Flower" from their September 11 performance    Download

The Epoch Quintet will perform at Jazz Mondays on Monday, September 25, starting about 9:30 p.m. The second set will be open for jamming. Le Petit Chicago is located at 50 Promenade du Portage in downtown Gatineau, just the other side of the Chaudière Bridge – only a few minutes from downtown Ottawa. It's easily accessible by bike or car. OC Transpo route 8 stops at Place de la Chaudière, one block away.

September 11 Set List

  • All the Kingsmen
  • The Time is Now
  • The Fifth Side
  • Kaprekar Smith
  • The Lament
  • Black Flower

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