The Glebop Jazz Trio will celebrate its anniversary on Sunday with a special jazz jam, to say goodbye to the location in the Glebe where it's played for the last 16 years.
But as the group's trumpeter, John Haysom, emphasizes, it's not goodbye for good. Both Glebop and the Arrow and Loon, the pub/restaurant that's hosted their monthly jazz nights, are hoping to return in the fall, he says.
“The [pub's] owner is looking for another location and says that he will take us with him. It's our last performance at that location, not our last performance at the Arrow and Loon – being optimistic, as I am!”
The pub is currently located in Fifth Avenue Court, a low-scale, red-brick office and retail complex at Bank Street and Fifth Avenue, in the central Ottawa neighbourhood just south of downtown. The complex opened in 1980, and is centred around an interior public courtyard, which the Arrow and Loon opens into.
In 2017, the building's owner, the Minto Group, proposed tearing down all of Fifth Avenue Court except the original heritage buildings along Bank Street, and replacing it with a new condo building. The seven-story, 160-unit redevelopment was approved by City Council in July, 2018. The current tenants not on Bank Street – including the Arrow and Loon – must move out by August, and demolition will begin in September.
Haysom said that he had invited the Arrow and Loon's owner, Jacob Samaha, “to come on Sunday and tell us where things stand, and he said he would if he had something to say.”
He was “pretty disappointed” at Minto’s decision. “I felt better about when Jacob said that if he finds a new location he'll take us with him. But it's certainly a disruption.”
The Sunday jazz nights have worked for both the trio and the pub. Two of the trio's three members have lived in the Glebe, making the Arrow and Loon a convenient location. In fact, the trio's name comes from melding "Glebe" and "bebop". For the pub, jazz evenings are an attraction on otherwise-quiet Sunday evenings, Haysom said.
“It's a nice place. They have good beer. We've built up a fairly faithful audience. We don't make a lot of money, but it's a pleasant place to play.”
Vocalists remember the series
The trio plays “mellow, accessible jazz consisting of popular standards, jazz standards and originals”. They began by playing every week at the Arrow and Loon, but found it difficult to get people to come out every week. “And then finally we realized that the best way to help get people out was to have singers.” Since 2013, they've run a popular monthly vocal jazz series, with a rotating list of local jazz vocalists.
“We had some good experiences with singers, some not so good [he laughs]. It's always a challenge with singers because they tend to sing songs in non-standard keys to match their vocal range. So in my basement I have about a foot-worth of three-ring binders full of what I call 'crazy singer keys' [charts]. Karen [Oxorn] has said, 'Who's crazy – the singer or the keys?' And I said 'I'm not saying'. ”
Oxorn has been a regular guest, and will be at the final show. She said she particularly remembered marking special occasions for regular Glebop listeners with song requests: for example singing “My One and Only Love” to mark the 50th wedding anniversary for saxophonist Rick Moxley, with Moxley playing on the tune and dedicating it to his wife Sue. When her father died, she was scheduled to perform with Glebop that evening, and sang his favourite song, Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean” to remember him there. “It was tearful at times, but it felt like the right place to be.”
She even wrote lyrics to two of Haysom's tunes which were written for his granddaughters: “Alexandra's Smile” and “Song for Sydney”. Haysom said that “we've had fun doing those.”
Betty Ann Bryanton said she had been “absolutely delighted” to sing with Glebop, and hoped to make it to the final show, “to celebrate not only Glebop, but the Arrow & the Loon Pub, which we will all miss with its nice neighbourhood feel. I hope that A&L will find a new home that will be equally as pleasant for them and that Glebop will continue their vocal jazz series that people have come to know, love, and look forward to.”
Vocalists choose their songs for the Glebop shows they're featured in, so that the audience is treated to a variety of tunes. For her show with Glebop in April, Bryanton said she “introduced some tunes that the Glebop guys weren’t all familiar with.”
Peter Liu, another regular, said that “John, Howard, and Bert always created a fun and lighthearted space in which to explore, take risks, and play.”
Caroline Cook, who will be master of ceremonies on Sunday, said that it was a “a treat” to sing with the trio after having played with them individually at local jam sessions. Patricia Balfour, who will also attend, said she was personally grateful to Haysom for teaching her how to produce jazz charts, and thanked the trio for having created “such a lovely community of jazz listeners in the Glebe”.
Bringing back "everybody who has ever played with us"
For the June 2 show, Glebop has invited “everybody who has ever played with us, plus some other musical friends”, and Haysom says he's already received a couple dozen confirmations. “If even a fraction of them come out we should have a pretty good crowd!”
The veteran trio – Haysom on trumpet, flugelhorn, and valve trombone, Bert Waslander on keyboards, Howard Tweddle on double bass – has also invited vocalist Floyd Hutchinson, plus saxophonist Rick Moxley and drummer Lu Frattaroli, to play the first set with them.
They'll play tunes “representative of what we'd done over the years. There's one that I wrote called “GM” which stands for Gerry Mulligan, because it's in his style. And a blues, and a Latin, ones that demonstrate the range of the type of stuff we do.”
“Even one you could actually call a bebop. So Glebop will play bebop.”
Hutchinson will sing one of his favourite tunes, “Song for My Father” by Horace Silver. And Haysom's granddaughter Sydney, who is now 13, will sing “Over the Rainbow”. She recently starred as Dorothy in a production of The Wizard of Oz.
“She sang 'Over the Rainbow' as Dorothy, so she's going to do that and hopefully a little bit jazzier on this Sunday.”
Then they'll open up the evening for a jam and will go as long as people are willing to play. Their anniversary jam sessions held each September in previous years have gone as late as 10:30 p.m., Haysom said.
Glebop normally takes July and August off. It’s a decision made several years ago after Haysom drove all the way in from the cottage to play for three listeners.
“But hopefully towards the end of August we'll have a better idea of what's going to happen in the fall, and whether Jacob has found another place – or whether we need to start looking on our own for another place.”
The Glebop Trio's show will begin at 6 p.m. at the Arrow and Loon Pub, 99 Fifth Avenue (at Bank Street). Reservations are strongly recommended at 613-237-0448. The pub is easily accessible by bicycle, and is served by OC Transpo routes 6 and 7. Try the OC Transpo Trip Planner to find your trip to this show!