Listeners enjoy the free outdoor festival experience at The Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer. It returns from July 24-27. Brett Delmage, ©2011
Listeners enjoy the free outdoor festival experience at The Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer. It returns from July 24-27. Brett Delmage, ©2011

This story is about the 2013 festival. Read about this year's (2015) festival.

The Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer (Gatineau), which runs from July 24 to 27, 2013, is focusing on vocalists this year, with performances by Montreal singer Coral Egan, Ottawa vocalist Renée Yoxon, and Toronto's The Sicilian Jazz Project featuring the rich voice of Dominic Mancuso.

But instrumentals won't be ignored, with a performance by a trio that includes Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart and Toronto baritone saxophonist David Mott.

The festival, which is free to attend, is now in its 27th year. It is presented outdoors in le Parc de l'Imaginaire, immediately opposite the Aylmer Marina and beside Le Centre d'expostion L'Imagier (9 Front Street, in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau). [view map]

Listeners should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets, because seating is not provided. And they should hope for clear skies, because concerts are canceled in the event of rain.

The first three Wednesdays in July preceding the festival will also see music in the park, sponsored by the city of Gatineau.

Each of the three jazz/world music groups also prominently features vocals. They include

  • the trio of local jazz guitarist René Gely, presenting his Pulse Mondiale project (July 10)
  • Montreal's Pierre Kwenders (July 3) whose singing is influenced by Congolese rumba (
  • Montreal's Wesli Band (July 17), which plays Afro-beat, roots, and reggae (

Jazz vocalist Coral Egan (July 24) was nominated for a Juno and won a Felix for her first two albums. Her latest album, The Year He Drove Me Crazy [2012], is centered thematically on relationships, specifically on the effects of romantic love and the complications of blended families. Its influences include “California soul, singer- songwriter and indie-rock, while retaining Egan's distinctive jazz-inflected vocal style”. (

Renée Yoxon (July 25) is a strong presence on the Ottawa jazz scene, with a regular Monday night show at the Mercury Lounge and many different ensembles and projects. In 2012, she performed a tribute concert to American jazz songwriter/pianist Dave Frishberg at the NAC Fourth Stage, and released her second album, Here We Go Again, in collaboration with pianist/arranger Mark Ferguson. Yoxon's Gentlemen Friends is the band she has put together to play at swing dances – expect music that will get you up and moving! (

Jesse Stewart (July 26) is a multi-talented drummer and percussionist, who won a Juno in 2012 as a member of the Stretch Orchestra. He has played with many of the greats of improvised music and free jazz, including Hamid Drake, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Snow, George Lewis, and Joe McPhee. Stewart is also known for the sheer originality of his instruments, including those made of ice, fire, stone, and water, and is the only musician to have incorporated the waterphone into jazz compositions. He'll be playing with two Toronto musicians: baritone saxophonist David Mott (last seen here at the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival) and bassist Rob Clutton (last seen here playing with Nick Fraser at the 2013 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival. Clutton has also performed at IMOO with Lina Allemano's Titanium Trio).  (

The Sicilian Jazz Project (July 27) reflects Toronto jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti's own family heritage. Starting with field recordings of Sicilian folk music made by musicologist Alan Lomax in 1954, Occhipinti reinterpreted that music as a mix of global genres, modern jazz, and even chamber music. The project was last heard in Ottawa at the 2008 Ottawa Jazz Festival, and the CD received a Juno nomination in 2009.

Occhipinti has continued to present the project world-wide and add new material ever since. The ensemble has included his brother Roberto on bass, Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), Ernie Tollar (saxophones and flutes), Barry Romberg (drums), Louis Simao (accordion), and vocalists Maryem Tollar and Dominic Mancuso.

The concerts start at 7:30 p.m. Le Parc de l'Imaginaire is easily accessible by bicycle from the NCC recreational paths along the Ottawa River (cross at the Champlain Bridge from Ottawa, It's an enjoyable ride along the river, about an hour long - but remember to bring lights for the trip home. You can also reach the park by automobile and by Outaouais public transit service, STO (info: 819-770-3242).

How to get to the park by STO (many thanks to Marie Fleming and Jeff Gleeson for the directions):

"Pour se rendre au parc de l’Imaginaire et en revenir, il faut prendre l’autobus 59 à Ottawa, transférer au parc-O-bus Rivermead (fin de la ligne 59) et prendre l’autobus 51 jusqu’à la rue Front où se trouve le parc. Il suffit d’utiliser le planificateur de trajet pour trouver les horaires. Pour l’autobus en fin de soirée: l’autobus 51 est aux 30 minutes, à et vingt et moins dix. L’autobus 59 part du parc-O-bus Rivermead à et huit et et trente-huit."

"Getting there from Ottawa – take any STO bus heading West on Wellington with a number starting with 4 or 5 (ex. 46, 59) to Rivermead Station. From Rivermead, take the 51. One leaves Rivermead 7:08 pm and stops across from the park at 7:22 pm. Getting back – catch a 51 heading South on Rue Front to Rivermead. They come every half hour. Take a 59 from Rivermead back to Ottawa."

For more information:

    – Alayne McGregor

Read the reviews of these concerts:

Read previous stories on Le Festival de Jazz Desjardins

Read stories on musicians performing at the festival this year

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