Jazz fans have decided what they liked most about jazz in Ottawa-Gatineau in 2013, in The OttawaJazzScene.ca Jazz Favourites Poll. These poll results are part of the complete report that OttawaJazzScene.ca is publishing this week.
Find out more about this poll and view all the results.

Favourite jazz and improvised music series: NAC Presents (National Arts Centre)

Runner-up: John Geggie Invitational (National Arts Centre 4th Stage)

How the poll defined this category: "Each series included at least three concerts, presented by the same musician or organization."

One of the many sold-out NAC Presents shows in 2013 featured jazz vocalist Molly Johnson (with pianist Robi Botos) ©Brett Delmage, 2013
One of the many sold-out NAC Presents shows in 2013 featured jazz vocalist Molly Johnson (with pianist Robi Botos) ©Brett Delmage, 2013
In 2013, the NAC Presents series included major Canadian jazz artists like Diana Krall, Molly Johnson, and Phil Nimmons and David Braid, as well as popular younger musicians like Elizabeth Shepherd, Laila Biali, and Kellylee Evans. With that lineup, it's no surprise that the series, which promotes Canadian popular music and particularly singer-songwriters, would be a favourite in our poll.

But right on its heels in the vote was the John Geggie Invitational series, also at the National Arts Centre, which presented only three concerts in 2013. The long-running series of unabashedly instrumental jazz has loyal fans, and they spoke out vehemently in our poll's comments.

In fact, each series in this category garnered considerable support among those who voted. The votes were comparatively evenly split among the different series and we received strongly favourable comments for all of them.

At the same time, fewer respondents picked a favourite in this category. We got many comments saying the respondents had not attended any of these concerts, or too few to form an opinion. As one respondent said, “Most of the O-G series I find are too hard to access or too expensive to attend. We need to bring jazz to the people rather than the other way around!”

NAC Presents: fun, creative

Respondents liked the “fun, creative” jazz in NAC Presents, and the “nice selection” of musicians presented. “The programming was quite appealing, although I must admit that I was not aware of some of those performances.” “I enjoyed the particular artists that were presented.”

“I was attracted to the type of jazz and the fact that the performance was at the NAC, which is convenient for me since I live in the downtown area. I also like to listen to jazz alone and feel more comfortable doing so in this atmosphere.”

The venue itself was also a draw: “Easy to access. Easy to get tickets. Good advertising.” “We are big NAC supporters, get lots of information on up-coming events.  Perhaps tend to be more biased to NAC than other venues.  Perhaps we should "broaden" our experiences!”

And respondents repeatedly mentioned the “super sound” at these shows.

John Geggie Invitational: excellent music, excellent musicians

2013 was the 12th year for the John Geggie Invitational jazz series at the NAC. The attraction for respondents: the “excellent music and very enjoyable mix of musicians.” The “quality and novel mix of musicians, thoughtful, interesting, new music” were extolled, as was the “chance to hear collaborations and fresh material and observe the creative process.”

“[Geggie] is a wonderful player and he seems to attract such fine musicians.   I just trust his musical leadership.”

“It is so important to have a regular series in the National Arts Centre. John does an incredible job of bringing in great talent and putting on intellectual, enlightening, but still enjoyable shows. An important memory for me was hearing him play with David Braid, Roddy Ellias and Pierre Tanguay. That concert was the first time I heard David Braid play and his music has gone on to influence me enormously."

Listeners were disappointed to hear the series was ending. “What a great series over the years. It's really very sad the Geggie series was cancelled, in fact an embarrassment for Ottawa. They also trimmed his budget for bringing in musicians from NYC etc. We lost one of the highlights in Ottawa. Anything you can do to bring this back would be excellent.”

Praise for each nominated series

The uniqueness and interesting lineups at the shows in the IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) biweekly series was often mentioned: “classical people doing free-improv. free-jazz people doing lowercase improv, improvised dance movement in a small, intimate space where the dancer plays off an instrumentalist's ideas, and vice-versa, right before our eyes, etc. ... What other series has music that dares to even ask the question: 'Just what is music'?”

“I believe that the IMOO series deserves wider support.  Its regular concerts and mini-festivals are always interesting.” “Great variety of local and international musicians, comparable to series in Montreal and Toronto. Best of the best: Christine Duncan and Jean Martin at IMOOfest.”

The JazzN house concert series in Mississippi Mills was praised for its “personal, individualized flavour” and its “incredibly attentive and emotionally responsive” audiences: a “fine alternative to larger venues in the metropolis”.

The series of concerts at GigSpace curated by guitarist Roddy Ellias received many kudos: “great musician with beautiful music and a very engaging personality in a great venue with amazing acoustics.” The “breadth of Roddy's musical knowledge and creativity was brilliantly showcased in the series.” “Excellent guitar playing, creative brilliant music, nothing else like it ...”

And the evening concerts at the Carleton University Jazz Camp were well received. “They have great performers, people I'm really excited about hearing.”

The Favourite Jazz and improvised music series nominees

  • NAC Presents (at the National Arts Centre) [info]
  • John Geggie Invitational (at the NAC 4th Stage) [info]
  • Carleton University Jazz Camp concert series (at the Kailash Mital Theatre in August) [listings]
  • JazzN House Concert series (in Almonte and environs) [info]
  • Roddy Ellias (at GigSpace) [listings]
  • Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais (IMOO) (at Umi Cafe and elsewhere) [listings]

Visit OttawaJazzScene.ca each day this week to see that day's favourites!

– Alayne McGregor and Brett Delmage

Do you have any comments about this poll or the favourites ? We invite you to share them in our Facebook group, or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Please refer to “The OttawaJazzScene.ca's Jazz Favourites Poll” when citing or linking to results. On twitter please use the #OttJazzFavs tag. Thank you.

OttawaJazzScene.ca is community supported. Our content, including projects like this, is made possible by our generous donors. We thank them for their support.

See also: