Florquestra's Leonard Constant and Fernando Acosta play at their sold-out CD release concert in Gatineau.    ©Brett Delmage
Florquestra's Leonard Constant and Fernando Acosta play at their sold-out CD release concert in Gatineau. ©Brett Delmage

Don't ignore the locals! Ottawa-Gatineau musicians will present a wide range of jazz and jazz-crossover styles with new musical projects at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival. Listeners who dismiss the two free local stages and larger concerts by local musicians because these are not headliner acts will miss good music.

“I had more than enough applicants to choose from. The last few years, it's been really strong. It's hard to pick,” festival programming director Petr Cancura told OttawaJazzScene.ca at the festival's 2013 launch.

“My approach to is to give opportunity to those who are really doing something new, and pushing it forward.”

Among those groups presenting new material will be The Stretch Orchestra, who received the 2012 Juno Award for Best Instrumental Album. The band, which includes Ottawa percussionist and improviser Jesse Stewart,was unable to tour after their unexpected Juno win last year because of a scheduling conflict. (8 p.m. Thursday June 27, Improv Invitational - NAC Fourth Stage)

The Souljazz Orchestra, which includes several musicians important in Ottawa's jazz, R&B, and indie scene, has developed a well-deserved following here for their dynamic live shows, as well as garnering several Juno nominations for their albums. They're following up two enthusiastically-received outdoor shows at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2012 with an indoor show at this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival. Dominion Chalmers United Church will be a very different venue for them, but they certainly do have the full, layered sound to fill that large space.

Florquestra launched their first album, Flortografia, with a lot of all-around enthusiasm at a January concert in Gatineau. They will bring a “bit of everything Florquestra, from Brazilian rhythms to Parisian rhymes” to the festival. (12 p.m.Thursday June 20, Rideau Centre)

“Funk, neo-soul & hip-hop collide with filthy R'n'B & acid jazz” - The Chocolate Hot Pockets recently released their debut album, The Filthy Chapter, and will play those songs and more. A group of four young musicians with wide and modern influences, they have been very active in the local jazz scene the past few years. Three of the group's members: Jamie Holmes, Alex Moxon, and J.P. Lapensée currently host the regular jams at the Brookstreet Hotel. (12 p.m. Wednesday June 26, OLG Stage)

Far removed from acid jazz, vocalist Peter Liu has delivered jazz standards with deep emotional intensity and creative phrasing to Ottawa audiences the past few years, with innovative shows like “Boy's Night Out”, presenting two male jazz vocalists. As one of the very few male jazz vocalists in Ottawa, Liu is thrilled to be making his festival debut this year. He will sing with The Peter Liu Quintet, which includes Yves Laroche and Scott Poll, both who have extensive experience playing at the festival (12 p.m.Thursday June 25, Rideau Centre)


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Nicole Ratté  ©Brett Delmage, 2011
Nicole Ratté ©Brett Delmage, 2011
Vocalist Nicole Ratté has frequently created and contributed to interesting projects. Most recently, she was one of three vocalists who delivered a concert at the NAC based on the classic Ella and Billie Newport Jazz Festival concerts. She's a proven crowd-pleaser at the festival's Rideau Centre Stage. This year, she returns to that stage in the Nicole Ratté Quintet, taking Québecois songs and "dressing them in jazz". This music is "part of our [Québecois] culture; it's in our skin. It goes straight to our hearts," she told us in an interview about this project. (12 p.m. Thursday June 27, Rideau Centre)

The recently formed group “eagles / mcgowan / wittet”, featuring Wayne Eagles on guitar, James McGowan on piano, and T. Bruce Wittet on drums, plays a fusion of jazz, rock, Latin and improvised musics. McGowan and Eagles both teach at Carleton University; there they performed together in a duo at last year's Carleton University Jazz Camp concert series. (12 p.m. Tuesday June 25, OLG Stage)

The Rangno-Laroche Project debuts at the 'fest this year to play mostly original compositions by Rick Rangno (flugelhorn/trumpet) and pianist Yves Laroche (piano/accordion) for a duo format. Tom Denison on bass and Robert Fontaine on drums will join them in additional songs for trio and quartet. The group of four musicians have played well together in recent years in a larger format, as the Robert Fontaine Quartet, which released a CD in 2011. (12 p.m. Monday June 24, Rideau Centre)

Want some hip-swinging music? Try Groove Plus, a new project formed by saxophonist Vince Rimbach with bassist Ken Seeley. Its music walks the line between funk and jazz: think Rick Braun, Stevie Wonder and the Rippingtons, plus originals. (12 p.m. Friday June 28, Rideau Centre)

Lucas Haneman is not the front man of Go Long(!) but he's known to local jazz fans for his stunning acoustic and electric guitar work. The group allows him “a lot of room to solo on the guitar and the mandolin as well as a new eight-string guitar” which Ottawa Luthier Pat Hawley has made for him. He plays with Danielle Allard (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and ukulele), Nicolas Crisafi (bass) in what he describes as an “equal partnership” to make a sound that is influenced by “varied genres from jazz, folk, and alternative rock to metal, electronica, and hip-hop.” (2 p.m. Saturday June 22, Rideau Centre)

The Craig Pedersen Quartet returns this year, with music from his album Days Like Today "inspired by the music of John Zorn, the AACM, Ornette Coleman, Dave Douglas, Sex Mob, and Duke Ellington, the band plays original music and not-so-standards" and has some new material for this concert. Pedersen's original compositions, artfully performed by IMOO co-founder Linsey Wellman, and Ottawa drummer Mike Essoudry make compelling listening. (12 p.m. Friday June 28, OLG Stage)

The festival also makes room every year for less-commonly hear jazz styles with a long history that continue to bring smiles to many listeners.

Django Libre returns this year to keep lovers of gypsy jazz happy, as witnessed at their 2011 Rideau Centre show. They'll present a tribute to the “amazing guitar player from the 1930's and 40’s, Django Reinhardt.” Their 2013 repertoire includes jazz standards and some bebop songs played in the style of Django, and their new lineup includes a new accordion player. (12 p.m. Sunday June 30, Rideau Centre)

Fans of traditional Dixieland jazz can find this genre increasingly difficult to find. But the six-piece APEX Jazz Band will play it at the festival this year - as they have done every year since the festival started. Just listen for the “toe-tapping and sometimes irreverent favourites, mixed with some of the less-often-heard trad numbers” to find them. (Rideau Centre – Noon, Thursday, June 27)

Neil Yorke-Slader directs the Nepean All-City Jazz Band in its concert in Barrhaven. ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Neil Yorke-Slader directs the Nepean All-City Jazz Band in its concert in Barrhaven. ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Youth bands play a lot of big band music at the festival every year, and 2013 is no exception. The enthusiastic young musicians of the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band, the Nepean All-City Jazz Band, and the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra have been rehearsing and performing public concerts since early last fall They have been working towards their festival performances which provide a climax for their seasons. The two afternoons of the opening weekend have been allocated to these bands to energize the OLG Stage and City Hall with lots of sound. (Saturday June 23 and Sunday June 23, 12 p.m. and later, OLG Stage)

Juno-award winning vocalist Kellylee Evans has a solid Ottawa-Gatineau fan base (as well as being really popular over in France). She fully engages her audience, whether by running through them while singing, or getting them to actively participate in the music-making. Her festival performance follows the release of her newest album, I Remember When, on April 16. It will be an opportunity for fans who couldn't get into her sold-out Fourth Stage concert in April to hear her. (6:30 p.m. Friday June 21, Great Canadian Jazz - Main Stage)

Catch all the free jazz that you want to before the final weekend of the festival. With one exception, the festival is presenting music that isn't jazz on the OLG and Rideau Centre stages after Friday June 28. But more than fifteen of the most accomplished and active Ottawa-Gatineau jazz musicians will bring big, big sound to the the Main Stage on the final night of the Festival. The popular Latin band Los Gringos will be followed by the new Rob Frayne Dream Band which debuted in a well-attended, two-evening run at the NAC last October. The two concerts are part of the closing evening's big-band tribute to the late jazz festival programming director, Jacques Emond, who loved big bands. Expect great music and a lot of emotion as everyone plays goodbye to Jacques. (6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday June 30, Main Stage)

We've classified the many local performances, including numerous ones not mentioned here, so you can easily find the music that you like - or even try something new. Check out our Jazzfest 2013: Finding the music you like, by local musicians

     – Brett Delmage

Updated June 5, 2013: Deleted reference to local musicians performing with Aretha Franklin because this concert was canceled by Franklin.

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