Bill Jupp at Taste of Wellington ©Brett Delmage, 2011
Bill Jupp at Taste of Wellington ©Brett Delmage, 2011
Long-time Ottawa teacher, saxophonist and big-band arranger Bill Jupp is 89 now, but you wouldn't have known it by his two-hour performance at the Carleton Tavern on September 17. Jupp was following the tunes of big-band standards with no obvious effort, and smoothly coming in with punchy solos at the appropriate moments, bending backwards to get the maximum sound from his alto sax.

If he sat down between sets – well, who could blame him?

Brought out of retirement for the Taste of Wellington event, he was well supported by his sextet: Don Paterson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Glenn Robb on drums, Art Katona on trombone, Craig Kennedy on guitar, and Bob Langley on bass. Paterson even added vocals on their one non-jazz tune: "Rock around the Clock". The arrangements allowed all the musicians to shine, and Jupp several times introduced and acknowledged the other musicians.

Jupp was well-known for the written arrangements he wrote for his big bands. But Katona told OttawaJazzScene.ca that "the songs we were playing at the Carleton were all 'head arrangements' that Bill made up as we went along.  As the leader, he gave us his idea of the general structure and key of a song just before we played it, and then he directed traffic, as it were, as the song went along.  There was only one actual written arrangement by Bill:  the horn lines and rhythm at the very end of 'Take the A Train.' " 

Well before the musicians hit the stage, the Carleton was filled to overflowing with not a seat empty, and it stayed that way for the entire two hours. Mayor Jim Watson showed up partway through to award a charity draw prize, and ended up staying until the end enjoying the music. There were lots of smiles, and a few couples even got up to dance.

Jupp got two standing ovations (before and after the last song); he smiled, and then thanked the other musicians again.

The Jupp show was the culmination of a day of events sponsored by the Wellington West BIA (Business Improvement Area) to encourage people to patronize Wellington Street West-area merchants. Three other jazz groups also played: Elise Letourneau and Tim Bedner drew an interested crowd outside Herb&Spice with Tim's 7 string guitar and Elise's scatting; Cuppa Soup drowned out the traffic with its mini-big-band sound playing trad jazz near the sidewalk in front of the Metro Grocery store while raising money for the Shepherds of Good Hope; and Mike Essoudry's Mash Potato Mashers marched up and down Wellington Street, producing a big, infectious sound that engaged both pedestrians and motorists alike.

    – Alayne McGregor

Related: A tribute to Bill Jupp's lasting influence


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