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 Concert Venue: National Arts Centre Fourth Stage

Runner-up: GigSpace Performance Studio

How the poll defined this category: “A jazz concert venue is defined as a facility where people go to listen to music without talking or socializing during the performance itself. Nominees presented at least five jazz concerts in 2013.”

An attentive audience enjoys an intimate Fourth Stage concert by Phil Nimmons, David Braid, and photographer Nathan Wirth ©Brett Delmage, 2013
An attentive audience enjoys an intimate Fourth Stage concert by Phil Nimmons, David Braid, and photographer Nathan Wirth ©Brett Delmage, 2013

The NAC Fourth Stage has been home to many memorable jazz concerts and seated thousands of jazz fans in its 14-year history. Those good memories may have helped it reach favourite status in our concert venue category.

Certainly it has a lot of enthusiastic fans. As one listener summarized: “Amazing sound, lighting, stage, ambiance, tables, space, green room areas, bar service...no place is better for listening intimately to great jazz.”

Another described it as “fancy without being too formal. I like the tables and the bar and meeting other people there. It is a great place to bring visitors to show off the NAC, the downtown canal and Parliament.”

This venue's conversion from a former bookstore has clearly been successful according to listeners' observations: “very intimate and close but big enough that a band can really stretch out without being confined to playing quietly.”

“To me, it's a more natural setting for improvised music. Encourages more of a closer connection with the audience,” said one. Another praised the “attentive audiences”.

The stage's downtown, “accessible” location was seen as a plus by several; similarly, its easy access by OC Transpo and its ample car parking.


And what didn't they like? “Not enough jazz.” “[I] regret loss of Geggie series.”

GigSpace Performance Studio: passionate hosts and knowledgeable fans

The much younger GigSpace Performance Studio (almost three years old) was a close contender, however – both for its space and its programming.

Listeners repeatedly praised its “intimacy” and its acoustics. “The only place that is small enough to be close to musicians and without noise interference from cash registers, coolers, arrogant waitresses, patrons yak yak.”

One response praised the range of talent it offers, “from emerging to cutting edge”. Another noted “they had by far the most interesting out of town musicians”.

“It hosted some of the jazz that appealed to me the most. It's also very accessible with good choices of nearby restaurants for dinner out beforehand. An additional valuable feature was the bar service that started this year.”

The ambiance was a big attraction, too. “The people who run it just love music, you can tell. The audience members know a lot about the artists and so you can talk about the show at intermission with them. It just enhances the experience.”

Musicians appreciated it too. “The new space seems to be absolutely thriving. A warm, welcoming environment is always a given and the atmosphere of the venue is conducive to music-making.” “A very professional, easily affordable space where musicians can put on concerts to an appreciative audience.”

And any complaints? “I just wish they were bigger.”

Location, location, location

Overall, acoustics was the factor most mentioned – and praised – in all venues, followed by ambiance and sightlines. But what really appeared to make a difference in poll results was location.

As one respondent said: “Well I have never actually been over to the Quebec side for any music.”

We did get a few comments praising all three Gatineau concert halls, but much fewer than other locations. However, one listener did say that “(upon your suggestion here!) I am going to check out Cabaret La Basoche.”

Similarly, the Kailash Mital Theatre (formerly Alumni Theatre) at Carleton University was praised for its “great stage management, great recording and audio technicians”. Those who praised it stated they had attended the university or its jazz camp, or belonged to bands who played there, again suggesting that access to a venue has been an important aspect of going there to hear a concert.

Several respondents were surprised that Les Brasseurs du Temps was not included in this category (it didn't fit the criteria, as it is foremost a bar/restaurant, albeit one that is respectful to the listening experience), nor Centrepointe Theatre (it had too few jazz concerts in 2013).

The Favourite Jazz Concert Venue nominees

  • Salle Jean-Deprèz (Hotel de Ville, Gatineau) [website]
  • Salle Odyssée (Maison de la Culture, Gatineau) [website]
  • Cabaret La Basoche (Gatineau, Aylmer sector) [website]
  • GigSpace Performance Studio [website]
  • National Arts Centre (NAC) 4th Stage [website]
  • Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton University) [website]
  • Dominion Chalmers United Church [website]

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

       – Alayne McGregor and Brett Delmage

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