Kellylee Evans  ©Brett Delmage, 2017
Ottawa vocalist Kellylee Evans' summer-time album, Come On, is nominated in the Vocal Jazz category in the 2018 JUNO Awards. ©Brett Delmage, 2017

Read about the 2018 JUNO Award jazz winners

Ottawa jazz vocalist Kellylee Evans has received her third JUNO Award nomination, for her long-delayed album Come On.

Evans will be competing against Diana Krall, Matt Dusk, Michael Kaeshammer, and last year's winner Bria Skonberg in the Vocal Jazz Album category in the 2018 JUNO Awards. This year's nominations were released today, and the winners will be announced in Vancouver on March 24 and 25.

Two musicians appearing this week at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival – Chet Doxas and Hilario Durán – are also on the nominees' list, along with Michael Kaeshammer, who will perform at the National Arts Centre on Thursday, and Christine Jensen, who performed here last Friday and who will return in April.

The awards “raise the public profile and recognition of musical artists in Canada” – and, unlike the 2017 JUNOs, most of the jazz musicians nominated this year do live in Canada. Of the 15 nominated in jazz categories, most are from Toronto or British Columbia, with three from New York City.

Evans released Come On in Ottawa last November – two years after its original release in France, because of delays caused by her being hit by lightning and a subsequent concussion. She told that she was excited to finally release it in North America.

The album is a collection of originals she wrote with her co-producer, French jazz pianist Eric Legnini. She describes it as vibrant, and “a summer kind of album. Lots of fun. It's a more joyful album. Less introspective.”

The Vocal Jazz category also contains Krall's and Skonberg's collections of jazz standards, Matt Dusk's Christmas jazz CD, and Michael Kaeshammer's album of original jazz and pop tunes (mostly vocal with two instrumentals). Krall was also nominated in the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year category for her album Turn Up the Quiet, which she co-produced with the late Tommy LiPuma.

In the Jazz Album: Solo category, the nominees are highly diverse. Pianist Hilario Durán's album, Contumbao, is a tribute to his roots in Cuba with performances by Cuban musicians including Chucho Valdes. Saxophonist Chet Doxas took his inspiration from modern art for his compositions in Rich In Symbols. Saxophonist Ralph Bowen, who has been part of the NYC jazz scene for three decades and teaches at Rutgers University in New Jersey, is nominated for his straight-ahead jazz quartet album with a suite of animal-inspired titles.

Mike Downes explores the possibilities of his double bass in his originals in Root Structure, which also features JUNO-winning pianist Robi Botos, guitarist Ted Quinlan, and drummer Larnell Lewis. Bassist Brad Cheeseman has followed on his 2016 Grand Prix de Jazz Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival with the thoughtful originals on The Tide Turns, featuring saxophonist Kelly Jefferson.

All but Cheeseman are previous jazz JUNO nominees, and Durán, Downes, and Bowen previous winners – Bowen the earliest, for Free Trade in 1995.

The Jazz Album: Group category has music ranging from the chamber jazz of Andrew Downing’s Otterville and The Carn Davidson 9, to the three-horn mainstream jazz of Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop. Christine and Ingrid Jensen continue their decades-long collaboration with Infinitude, a quintet recording about the “concept of boundless possibility” for which each has contributed half the compositions, including some they've been playing and refining for years. And David Braid, Mike Murley, Anders Mogensen and Johnny Åman pay tribute to The North, in a collection of originals which are inspired by the experience of living and playing jazz in Canada and Scandinavia.

Crooner Michael Bublé, who was honoured in Ottawa last year with a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, is nominated for Album of the Year and Adult Contemporary Album of the Year. His CD, Nobody But Me, combines three originals with jazz standards and covers of pop and Italian songs. Bublé has previously won 12 JUNOs, four Grammys, and seven Smooth Jazz Awards.

The Ottawa group Kobo Town was nominated in the World Music category for their album Where the Galleon Sank. The album features Ottawa saxophonist Linsey Wellman, who performs in many jazz and improvised music groups as well as coordinating the local IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais) series which he co-founded.

In other categories, improvising throat singer Tanya Tagaq, who performs with jazz musicians Jean Martin and Jesse Zubot, is nominated in the Alternative Album category for Retribution. The Album Artwork category includes nominations for gypsy jazz quartet The Lost Fingers and chamber jazz/world music ensemble Esmerine. The Instrumental Album category, which has included jazz and improvised music in the past, had none this year.

2018 JUNO Award nominations in jazz and related categories:

(from the official list at

Vocal Jazz Album of the Year

  • Kellylee Evans: Come On [Ottawa]
  • Matt Dusk: Old School Yule! [Toronto]
  • Michael Kaeshammer: No Filter [Vancouver Island]
  • Bria Skonberg: With a Twist [NYC]
  • Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet [Vancouver]

Jazz Album of the Year: Solo

  • Hilario Durán: Contumbao [Toronto]
  • Mike Downes: Root Structure [Toronto]
  • Ralph Bowen: Ralph Bowen [NYC]
  • Brad Cheeseman: The Tide Turns [Toronto]
  • Chet Doxas: Rich in Symbols [NYC]

Jazz Album of the Year: Group

  • Andrew Downing’s Otterville: Otterville [Toronto]
  • Carn Davidson 9: Murphy [Toronto]
  • David Braid, Mike Murley, Anders Mogensen & Johnny Åman: The North [Toronto, Denmark, Finland]
  • Christine Jensen & Ingrid Jensen: Infinitude [Montreal, NYC]
  • Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop: Rev [Toronto]

World Music Album of the Year

  • Kobo Town: Where the Galleon Sank [Ottawa]

Jack Richardson Producer of the Year

  • Diana Krall: “L-O-V-E”, “Night and Day” (co-producer Tommy Lipuma) from Turn Up the Quiet

Album Artwork of the Year

  • The Lost Fingers: Coconut Christmas [Quebec City]
  • Geneviève Lapointe (Art Director), Martin Tremblay (Photographer)
  • Esmerine: Mechanics of Dominion [Montreal]
  • Jean-Sébastien Denis (Art Director & Illustrator), Ian Ilavsky (Designer), Guy L'Heureux (Photographer)

Album of the Year

  • Michael Bublé: Nobody But Me [Los Angeles, Vancouver]

Adult Contemporary Album of the Year

  • Michael Bublé: Nobody But Me [Los Angeles, Vancouver]

Alternative Album of the Year

  • Tanya Tagaq: Retribution [Brandon, Manitoba]

Read's stories about previous JUNO nominations and winners: