New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra released a tribute album to New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint this spring (photo provided by Shenkman Arts Centre)

Jazz from New Orleans, Afro-Cuban love songs, and chamber jazz will be featured in the Shenkman Arts Centre's 2019-20 season, which it announced June 6.

This is the third local venue which has recently announced its upcoming season. Gatineau city theatres revealed their 2019-20 lineup on June 4, while Centrepointe Theatre unveiled its shows in late May. The National Arts Centre revealed much of its upcoming season much earlier, in mid-March.

At the Shenkman centre in Orleans, the biggest sound will definitely be coming from The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which will touch down on February 25, 2020 as part of a cross-Ontario tour. The 20-piece orchestra won a GRAMMY in 2010, and has had a long association with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, with whom they released an album in 2015, and who also sings on their latest album. Led by drummer Adonis Rose, the band performs music “that exemplifies the influence of Jazz as the grandfather of all modern American music”.

This spring, the orchestra released a tribute album to New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint, the legendary composer, singer, pianist, and producer. The album features six songs by Toussaint and one associated with him, as well as two original tribute pieces. The idea for the album came from Bridgewater, who said she'd never heard a big band take on Toussaint's music. That immediately inspired Rose, who ended up not only highlighting Toussaint's jazz roots on the CD, but also the broader musical culture of his hometown with second-line numbers and brass-band street groove.

The Shenkman Centre's Sunday afternoon Café Classico series usually features chamber musicians, but on October 20, the focus will be on chamber jazz with John Geggie and Friends. Geggie is a double bassist who is both important in the local jazz scene and a regular in the chamber music scene. He'll team up with well-known local jazz musicians Tim Bedner on guitar and Steve Boudreau on piano for a relaxed and intimate cabaret-style concert in the centre's lower lobby.

On November 20, local Afro-Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas returns with Chilean-Canadian vocalist Cristina Sayén, with whom he also performs in his salsa/cha cha cha band Fiesta Cubana. They'll perform an afternoon show of Latin rhythms, jazz standards, bossa novas, and French classics. Sayén will sing in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Extremely enthusiastic listeners almost completely filled Harold Shenkman Hall for the previous Fiesta Cubana spectacle.

On December 19, the Sultans of String return with their Christmas Caravan, for their third year in a row in Ottawa. The show presents holiday songs from around the world, some with a jazzy twist such as a Gypsy-jazz inspired "Django Christmas”. This year it will feature four Ottawa women vocalists as special guests: Kellylee Evans, Rebecca Campbell, Lynn Miles, and Kristine St-Pierre.

At the city theatres in Gatineau, the main jazz event is the soulful jazz vocals of Montreal singers Dominique Fils-Aimé, who was just named the 2019-20 Révélations jazz artist by Radio-Canada. She'll perform at Salle Jean-Despréz in Gatineau City Hall on February 21. Also of possible interest is the afro-funk fusion groove Papagroove (with several notable Montreal jazz musicians) on May 1 at Cabaret La Basoche in Aylmer.

On November 16, the musical theatre show, La bibliothèque interdite, will be presented at Salle Jean-Despréz. It features a score and story by Quebec jazz musician Denis Plante, and live music by Plante on bandonéon, Francis Palma on bass, and Matthieu Léveillé on guitar. The show is a tribute to Argentine poets and writers who took up their pens to denounce totalitarianism. It's set in a forbidden library, where poetry and songs mix in an atmosphere of fantastic realism.

Alexandra Stréliski, a Montreal pianist and neo-classical composer whose music appeals to some jazz fans, will perform in Salle Odyssée in La Maison de la Culture on January 23. Her National Arts Centre show this spring sold out very quickly.

The Centrepointe Theatre in western Ottawa also recently revealed its upcoming season. The Grey Jazz Big Band will return for another popular Concert to Remember on November 8, and the funk-soul group The Commotions (with many local jazz musicians) has a big show on February 22.

All these venues do add more shows throughout the season. Watch OttawaJazzScene.ca for more jazz as it's announced.

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