For the first time this year, the Ottawa Jazz Festival has sponsored a series of afternoon jazz workshops. The first two were held June 26 and July 2, and the last one will occur today (July 3), from a little after 1 p.m. to about 4:30 p.m.

As organizer Petr Cancura explained at the first workshop, these are based on a models used at folk festivals. Musicians -- who may have never played together before -- are plopped onto a stage, given a theme, and invited to produce music fitting that theme. At this festival, the results were always interesting, and mostly excellent.

Each day has three workshops. On the first two days, one workshop was experimental, with musicians trying new mixtures of instruments, time signatures, and tones. The other two were more mainstream, but still offering lots of room for trying new combinations: for example a sousaphone playing against trumpet and sax.