Updated June 28
Looking for fewer crowds or jazz in your neighbourhood? Downtown not convenient? There are many fine opportunities to hear live jazz around the city even while the Ottawa Jazz Festival is running.
Thursday, June 21: Fiesta Cubana helps open Westboro Beach for the season with an outdoor concert of lively Cuban music. With seven musicians and dancers, the spirited rhythms of the cha cha cha and other classic Cuban music will be pulling you to get up and dance. If you miss them tonight, they'll be performing frequently on sunny evenings at the beach this summer.
Prefer gypsy jazz? The long-standing Django Libre group will be at Bar Robo. Or, for Brazilian rhythms, Jerusa Leão, originally from Brazil and living in Toronto, will evoke a Samba party in Bahia, Brazil, at the Mercury Lounge.
Friday, June 22: Pianist James McGowan and saxophonist Peter Woods will play an acoustic duo concert in the beautiful surroundings of Dominion Chalmers United Church at noon. In the evening singer Douglas Moyle and his trio will celebrate Frank Sinatra and his fellow crooners at the Options Jazz Lounge in the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.
Saturday, June 23: From 11 a.m. to noon, pianist Steve Boudreau will play an uninterrupted set of Thelonious Monk's inimitable compositions in among the bins of vinyl at the Record Centre in Hintonburg. And the Cuppa Soup combo performs Dixieland with verve from 11:30 to 2:30 at Billings Bridge Shopping Centre, as part of their charity work for the Shepherds of Good Hope.
That evening, two emerging jazz musicians, trombonist Nicholas Adema and saxophonist Austin Bassarath, bring their sextet to the intimate listening room at the Record Runner Rehearsal Studios on Colonnade Road. Adema and Bassarath met at the University of Toronto, where they're both studying, and found they had a similar passion for composers and players in the Modern-Straight ahead Jazz genre (Walter Smith III, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Michael Dease). We've been impressed with Adema's attention to detail and musicianship in earlier shows.
Also that evening, young guitarist Garrett Warner (most recently heard at the 24-Hour Jazz Ramble) begins his monthly Sundown Summer Jazz Live series at the Art House Café with his quartet, featuring saxophonist Richard Page.
Sunday, June 24: Love dancing to big band jazz? The Wild Cards Pocket Band is hosting the last of its monthly dances at Dovercourt Recreation Centre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Craig Pedersen Quartet began here in Ottawa, but it's been three years since they've last played here. Expect high-energy playing, fine musicianship, and a mix of straight-ahead and avant-garde jazz, influenced equally by Miles Davis and John Zorn, at their IMOO concert at General Assembly in Hintonburg. They have a whole new book of “impossible compositions” to perform.
Also on Sunday, Rakestar Arkestra will bring its adventuresome take on the songbook of Sun Ra to Bar Robo, adding lots of their own voices on saxophones, organ, percussion, xylophone, and tape loops along the way.
Monday, June 25: Bassist Alex Bilodeau is back in Ottawa from Boston, where he's studying for his Masters at the New England Conservatory. He will perform in a trio with drummer Michel Delage and saxophonist Richard Page in the Jazz Mondays series at Le Petit Chicago in Gatineau. Bilodeau coordinated Jazz Mondays for many years, and it will be great to hear him back in his old stomping grounds again.
Wednesday, June 27: American guitarist Ry Cooder is best known among Latin jazz fans for his Buena Vista Social Club, which introduced many North Americans to the beauties of Cuban jazz. He'll be playing his “essential” music, which also covers roots and rock, in a show at Centrepointe Theatre, and including songs from his new album, The Prodigal Son.
Thursday, June 28: At noon, you can hear the last show in this month's weekly jazz series at MacKay United Church in New Edinburgh, with Afro-Cuban pianist and composer Miguel de Armas and bassist J.P. Lapensée, who play together in Fiesta Cubana.
Friday, June 29: Every month, drummer Michel Delage plays tribute to jazz's history and its great performers and composers, in shows with local and Canadian musicians in the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata. This month, he's teamed up with Peter Gemmell on saxophone and Keith Hartshorn-Walton on bass to play the music of master Tin Pan Alley composer Hoagy Carmichael. Carmichael wrote the music for some of the most unforgettable tunes of the 20th century, without which our jazz standards repertoire would be much poorer: "Stardust", "Georgia on My Mind", "The Nearness of You", "Skylark", and hundreds more. His "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening", with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1951.
Saturday, June 30: Guitarist Justin Duhaime and friends will play the passionate gypsy jazz music of Django Reinhardt at Backdrop Food and Drink downtown. Duhaime will be joined by guitarists René Gely and Nabil Yaghi.
Sunday, July 1: If the free outdoor shows at the jazz festival don't appeal, you can hear the Miguel de Armas Quartet at the National Arts Centre's Canal Lobby Stage from 3 to 4 p.m.
There's also lots of jazz still happening every evening at restaurants and lounges around Ottawa, from Kanata to New Edinburgh. Check out OttawaJazzScene.ca's Live Jazz Guide for more details of the performances here and many more.
Updated June 28: Added the tribute to Hoagy Carmichael on June 29.