Montreal pianist François Bourassa will appear with Cordâme at the Festival de Jazz Desjardins on August 1. ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Montreal pianist François Bourassa will appear with Cordâme at the Festival de Jazz Desjardins on August 1. ©Brett Delmage, 2012
This is the 2014 lineup. Read about this year's (2015) festival.

This July and August, you can hear Ottawa vocalist Kellylee Evans, high-profile Montreal jazz musicians Michel Donato and François Bourassa, and local Latin group Rimbombante, all in free outdoor concerts in Aylmer.

The Festival de Jazz Desjardins, now in its 28th year, is again featuring Ottawa and Quebec jazz musicians, performing on four consecutive evenings in a park in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, Quebec.

This year's festival runs from July 30 to August 2, 2014, and opens with Kellylee Evans on Wednesday, July 30. A crowd-pleasing performer who can't help moving with the joy of her music, Evans won a Juno in 2011 for Nina, her tribute to Nina Simone. She also placed second in the highly-competitive Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in 2004.

She has repeatedly sold-out ever-larger stages at the National Arts Centre; her two free concerts at the 2013 Montreal Jazz Festival filled almost an entire block of rue Ste-Catherine with listeners. Her latest album, I Remember When, features well-known hip-hop songs taken into the jazz sphere.

Rimbombante (Thursday, July 31) is an Ottawa-based group whose Spanish name denotes something flamboyant or having a strong resonance. Its music is inspired by Latin America, and it combines Latin, jazz, and world music influences. Led by saxophonist Dean Pallen, who is also its main composer, the group's members include several well-known local Cuban, Mexican, and Brazilian instrumentalists. This summer, Rimbombante is planning to record its second album. Car Crash.

Cordâme (Friday, August 1) is a Montreal-based group whose members play instruments more frequently heard in chamber music – harp, cello, violin – as well as piano, bass, drums, and clarinet. They will present their new CD, Rêve éveillé, which was recorded live at L'Astral in 2013. Its music is described as “dreamlike, accessible and captivating”, featuring “strong melodies and sophisticated arrangements”.

Jazz fans should recognize pianist François Bourassa (who celebrates 30 years in music at this year's Montreal Jazz Festival), and drummer Isaiah Ceccarelli in Cordâme. But we were interested to see that the group's bassist and composer, Jean Félix Mailloux, and its clarinetist, Guillaume Bourque, are two-thirds of the group Bomata, whose performance very much enjoyed last year at the Guelph Jazz Festival

Simplement Jazz (Saturday, August 2) is the duet of renowned Montreal bassist Michel Donato and guitarist Robert Ménard. Their show is billed as an intimate concert of familiar jazz tunes with wide appeal.

The city of Gatineau will also offer world music concerts, some with a flavour of jazz, in the park from July 9 to 23, including:

  • 7 Swaras (Wednesday, July 9) is an Ottawa group which plays South Asian music. Its name comes from the seven notes (or Swaras) in the Indian musical scale. Their music combines traditional sounds of the bamboo flute, the Dohol (drum), the vina (Indian lute) and sitar (long-necked lute, plucked) alongside drum beats, bass and cello.
  • Marinda & Solari (Wednesday, July 16) is a Montreal duo which sings ironic songs on the subject of popular music, identity, wealth and poverty, using minimalist voices and acoustic Spanish guitar.
  • Afrodizz (Wednesday, July 23) is a nine-piece Montreal band which plays a mixture of AfroBeat, jazz and funk with an urban feel.

All concerts start at 7:30 p.m. and last for about an hour. Picnics and families are welcome. 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 Parc de L'Imaginaire is beside Le Centre d'expostion L'Imagier at 9 Front Street, about 15 km from downtown Ottawa. It's accessible by bike: you can cross the river by the Champlain or Chaudière Bridges (Champlain is more comfortable), and take the multi-use paths westward along Quebec side of the Ottawa River. 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 the Outaouais public transit service, STO (info: 819-770-3242). STO route 51 takes you into and out of Aylmer, but you will likely have to transfer from/to an Ottawa-bound bus at Rivermead Station. You can get directions via the STO Planibus.

You could even try boating to the park, if you can tie up at the nearby Aylmer marina.

For more information:

    – Alayne McGregor

Read related stories about the musicians:

Read the reviews of 2013 Festival de Jazz Desjardins concerts:

Read previous stories on Le Festival de Jazz Desjardins