This fall, GigSpace has filled every concert slot it can manage, with groups coming from NYC, Toronto, and Ottawa.

©Brett Delmage, 2013
Two listeners in an overflow crowd listen to a 2013 IMOOFest concert inside GigSpace. The festival returns on September 22-23 as part of a jam-packed season of concerts at GigSpace.  ©Brett Delmage, 2013

Its eighth season begins September 14 and includes brand-new jazz groups along with revivals of well-loved duos, three CD releases, and an improvised music festival. Most of the musicians playing there, both local and from out of town, will present material new to Ottawa audiences.

The Hintonburg concert venue has doubled the number of groups it has scheduled compared to 2017 (17 plus a festival, versus 9), and it is offering a more diverse selection than previous years. At the same time, it has updated its website with an integrated ticketing system, and increased its general ticket prices to $25.

GigSpace director Tim Bedner, who organizes the venue's concerts, said that the venue's fall season is completely booked (although they could possibly try to squeeze in a high-profile touring artist) – and, in fact, GigSpace is booked until next June.

From New York City will travel the duo of lyrical pianist Bryn Roberts and acclaimed guitarist Lage Lund, and the high-powered quintet of vibraphonist Stefan Bauer. Roberts and Lund, who were last in Ottawa in 2016 for the release of their duo album, Nightsong, will again perform music from that album.

Bauer's “Voyage West” ensemble (vibraphone/marimba, sax, wordless vocals, bass, drums) will release their new album, Some Other Time, which combines “American-infused Modern Jazz” and world music. That album even has a Canadian connection: one of its tunes is called “In The Town of Springhill, Nova Scotia”, and the ensemble includes Toronto bassist Jim Vivian.

From Toronto comes two mainstream modern jazz groups: guitarist Harley Card's quintet with pianist Matt Newton, and a quartet led by drummer Ethan Ardelli featuring pianist Chris Donnelly and saxophonist Luis Deniz. Card released his third CD, The Greatest Invention, last fall, while Ardelli's group will be on a cross-Canada tour for their debut CD, The Island of Form.

The Ottawa line-up is all established groups, almost all of whom have played GigSpace before. But their projects are fresh: for example, vocalist Karen Oxorn will pay tribute to husband-and-wife jazz musicians Julie London and Bobby Troup (best known for “Cry Me a River”), in a show with Toronto guitarist Kevin Barrett and Montreal bassist Alec Walkington.

The Garry Elliott/Steve Boudreau Quartet will release a new CD, Opus 2; vocalist Diane Nalini will debut recent songs she's written for her trio with Mark Ferguson and John Geggie; and vocalist Elise Letourneau and her trio will both interpret songs that have “moved and shaped her” as well as putting on a rare performance of her own originals.

The opening weekend, on September 14 and 15, is a particularly long-awaited project. It's been almost a decade since pianist/trombonist Mark Ferguson and saxophonist Mike Tremblay – both mainstays of the Ottawa jazz scene – released their first joint CD, Home. They're finally about to record their second album together, but this time they're collaborating with two renowned Toronto jazz musicians: bassist Dave Young and drummer Terry Clarke. The quartet will play two shows at GigSpace of all-original material and then head off to record a CD.

After a four-year break the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) have revived their weekend festival of avant-garde and improvised music and are again renting GigSpace. IMOOfest 2018 will animate GigSpace on September 22 and 23 and feature international, Canadian, and local musicians in small and large ensembles. Their first festival at GigSpace was a popular and artistic success.

Vocalist Marcie Campbell, who moved to Winnipeg last year, will be back in Ottawa for two shows with her long-time vocal partner, Caroline Gibson. The duo is reviving Not for the Faint of Heart, their collection of risqué jazz and pop numbers, which brought down the house at GigSpace in 2015 – and was so popular that GigSpace “had to turn a lot of people away”, Bedner said. They also packed the place for their closing show at GigSpace's MicroFest in 2017, and have performed together with Oxorn in tribute concerts to Blossom Dearie and Peggy Lee.

Vocalist Rachel Beausoleil, known for her in-depth research into Brazilian jazz and popular music, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the bossa nova this year. Ottawa's bass-clef-pitched group, Safe Low Limit, makes its GigSpace debut. Vocalist Geri Childs will present her annual winter concert. GigSpace regulars including improvising percussionist Jesse Stewart, pianist Steve Boudreau and his trio, and blues/jazz guitarist Ray Montford will return, but have not yet announced what they'll be performing.

GigSpace’s fall season concludes with its traditional seasonal fundraiser, Jazzin' the Holidays, this year with Letourneau, Nalini, Bedner, and bassist Normand Glaude.

Bedner said that he was personally looking forward to hearing guitarist Lage Lund. “As a guitar player, I think Bryn Roberts and Lage Lund has a nudge above everything.”

He also highlighted the Ferguson/Tremblay concert. “There's a lot of talent in our community here in Ottawa and seeing guys like Mike Tremblay and Mark Ferguson bringing in heavy-hitting out-of-towners like Dave Young and Terry Clarke – that's pretty awesome!”


Fall 2018 concerts at the GigSpace Performance Studio: