Updated June 28, 2019
John Thompson is bringing the live music vibe of his record store to the 2019 Ottawa Jazz Festival, in a major revamp of the festival's CD and merchandise tent.
“I thought we could do something that as a shopper I would find fun,” he said. “We're doing something a little different.”
Thompson has big plans – not only selling CDs and vinyl, but also offering his own listening area. He intends to present a free set by local band each day, essentially a fourth festival stage.
His store, The Record Centre Centre in Hintonburg, regularly books live bands to play shows among the bins of collectible vinyl and vintage audio equipment. It's also twice hosted the 24-hour Jazz Ramble, a one-day mini-festival of local jazz, in partnership with the Jazz Festival.
Jazz fans will find the merch tent next to, but outside of, the festival's Main Stage area, on the walkway from Laurier Avenue West to the festival gate, and beside the festival's Souvenirs tent. It will be open to all, with no tickets or passes required to hear the shows or browse the merchandise.
It will actually be a double tent, Thompson said. One side will stock CDs and vinyl; the other side will be a listening room, “a chill area where you can listen to a good Technics system”. At about 5:30 each day (the time may vary depending on sound checks for the main stage), a band will present a half-hour+ show in the listening tent – with a limited number of chairs in the tent, plus standing room.
The groups will be mostly jazz, he said, and so far includes groups from Ottawa, Montreal, and Waterloo:
Jazz from New Orleans, Afro-Cuban love songs, and chamber jazz will be featured in the Shenkman Arts Centre's 2019-20 season, which it announced June 6.
This is the third local venue which has recently announced its upcoming season. Gatineau city theatres revealed their 2019-20 lineup on June 4, while Centrepointe Theatre unveiled its shows in late May. The National Arts Centre revealed much of its upcoming season much earlier, in mid-March.
At the Shenkman centre in Orleans, the biggest sound will definitely be coming from The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which will touch down on February 25, 2020 as part of a cross-Ontario tour. The 20-piece orchestra won a GRAMMY in 2010, and has had a long association with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, with whom they released an album in 2015, and who also sings on their latest album. Led by drummer Adonis Rose, the band performs music “that exemplifies the influence of Jazz as the grandfather of all modern American music”.
On the cover of Mark Ferguson and Mike Tremblay's new quartet CD is a close-up painting of a horse.
A very happy horse, in fact, looking like he's just crunched down on a big juicy apple. It fits the vibe of a CD of primarily upbeat swinging tunes, performed by the two Ottawa jazz champions, with renowned Toronto jazz musicians Dave Young and Terry Clarke.
They'll debut the album this Tuesday in a CD release concert at the Unitarian church in Ottawa, and then again on the main stage of the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 26.
Tremblay’s wife owns a horse, and he wrote the title tune, “Appleface”, inspired by the face the horse makes when he feeds it an apple. He showed a cellphone photo of that face to Ferguson – “just a big, sloppy kind of chewing face,” Ferguson said. “And coincidently my wife, Monica, had done a painting of a horse. A real closeup, almost like a fish[eye] lens closeup of a horse. And I showed it to him and he said, 'Yes, that’s the apple face!' ”
John Haysom looked over the capacity crowd in the Arrow & Loon on Sunday evening, as the Glebop Jazz Trio opened their final show in that space.
“What a thrill to see you all here tonight! Thanks to all of you for coming out to help us to, I'm not sure 'celebrate' is the right word.”
But the mood – and the music – was still upbeat as the trio commemorated their 16 years playing at the neighbourhood restaurant and pub in the Glebe. There were hugs and laughter, as long-time jazz listeners showed their appreciation. Several made photos and captured video of the band's opening set.
The Arrow & Loon's current location will be demolished in September, as part of The Minto Group's redevelopment of 99 Fifth Avenue into a seven-story condominium behind the current Bank Street store frontage. The pub is still looking for a new space, but no news about that was announced during the show.
Saxophonist Rick Moxley and drummer Lu Frattaroli (dashing in from another gig) joined the trio – Haysom on trumpet, flugelhorn, and valve trombone, Bert Waslander on keyboards, and Howard Tweddle on double bass – as they performed a vibrant opening set of classic jazz, mostly from the 1950s and 60s, plus one original.
On Thursday, Moonglow Jazz Ensemble is offering jazz listeners a virtual cruise of the Méditerranean, bringing together a variety of jazz styles from the region, and revealing unexpected musical connections and juxtapositions between composers, musicians, and song titles.
For them, developing Jazz Méditerranée has been a long journey: 18 months of teamwork researching, arranging, deciphering, rehearsing, and polishing the music.
“We’ve discovered this goldmine of incredible music that you never hear in Ottawa. So we’re so excited,” said their researcher, arranger and saxophonist Devon Woods. “We have so much fun with this. We’re thrilled to be able to share it.”
“It was really, really great to discover all those great tunes and great musicians that we never heard about,” said Hélène Knoerr, Moonglow’s bassist and vocalist.
For example, one of their Italian stops on the musical tour came out of a Renaissance style album which Moonglow's guitarist, Ed Stevens, had listened to and told the group about, Knoerr said. She was especially impressed by musicians from North Africa, from the Maghreb area: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, Lebanon.
“We found some amazing musicians who were very well known in France and Europe like this Oud player from Tunisia, Anouar Brahem. He is very well-known in France. He plays with jazz musicians and a lot of other people. A trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf from Lebanon, he plays with Sting and a lot of other well-known musicians in France including some jazz musicians.
But they also wanted to bring in as many jazz tunes as they could, as well as the compositions by Méditerranean musicians.
The Glebop Jazz Trio will celebrate its anniversary on Sunday with a special jazz jam, to say goodbye to the location in the Glebe where it's played for the last 16 years.
But as the group's trumpeter, John Haysom, emphasizes, it's not goodbye for good. Both Glebop and the Arrow and Loon, the pub/restaurant that's hosted their monthly jazz nights, are hoping to return in the fall, he says.
“The [pub's] owner is looking for another location and says that he will take us with him. It's our last performance at that location, not our last performance at the Arrow and Loon – being optimistic, as I am!”
The pub is currently located in Fifth Avenue Court, a low-scale, red-brick office and retail complex at Bank Street and Fifth Avenue, in the central Ottawa neighbourhood just south of downtown. The complex opened in 1980, and is centred around an interior public courtyard, which the Arrow and Loon opens into.
In 2017, the building's owner, the Minto Group, proposed tearing down all of Fifth Avenue Court except the original heritage buildings along Bank Street, and replacing it with a new condo building. The seven-story, 160-unit redevelopment was approved by City Council in July, 2018. The current tenants not on Bank Street – including the Arrow and Loon – must move out by August, and demolition will begin in September.
Updated May 29 to include further information
In Nanaimo, B.C. there is a long lineage of jazz, and specifically women jazz musicians. Last week, 25 students from a Nanaimo school worked to live up to that example in their performances at MusicFest Canada Nationals in Ottawa.
In the 1980s, pianist Diana Krall, saxophonist Christine Jensen, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen took their first steps in jazz as high school students in the Vancouver Island city, participating in earlier MusicFests, before going on to global stardom for Krall, and highly-respected and award-winning international careers as composers and bandleaders for the Jensen sisters.
This year, the Wellington Secondary School in Nanaimo was one of the most active at MusicFest Canada, with nine ensembles ranging from trios to jazz bands. Women were prominent in many of these groups, more than in many other groups OttawaJazzScene.ca heard performing at MusicFest.
Wellington band director Carmella Luvisotto said women became interested in participating because of Nanaimo's legacy of female jazz musicians.
The jazz started at 7 a.m. and lasted until the late afternoon – and rarely took a break longer than the time it took for one band to leave the stage and the next one to walk on and tune up. Every 30 minutes, another student band played its heart out in Ottawa, at the MusicFest Canada Nationals from May 13 to 17.
It was an important rite of passage for student musicians, giving those who wanted to continue professionally an early step up. Ottawa ensembles and musicians did well, with four young musicians receiving notable awards and scholarships, and seven of the thirteen Ottawa ensembles earning top Gold status.
Outside the Bronson Centre, a large grey-stone converted school on a busy street in central Ottawa, tour buses pulled up, delivering eager groups of students clutching instrument cases. Students milled about outside and inside the foyer, some nervously talking, some quiet and concentrating, some looking relieved and relaxed.
Jazz bands came from from elementary, middle, and high schools; from public schools and private academies; and from almost every province in Canada, from PEI to Vancouver Island, though the majority were from Ontario and B.C., including a large Ottawa contingent. Each had received an formal invitation to attend, from having already performed well in their regional music festivals.
They had been playing in their high school jazz bands since September, and had been invited to compete nationally. But when these talented students from across Canada joined this year's Conn-Selmer Centerstage Jazz Band, they had no time to rest on their laurels.
“We've been doing hard, long practices, 6 hours each day,” said Ottawa trumpeter Matt Roberts, shortly before the band's concert last Friday at MusicFest Nationals in Ottawa. This was his third and final year in the band, and he was featured in several of the band's numbers.
The 18 students in this national honour band were chosen through a rigorous on-line audition. They included five members of Ottawa's Nepean All-City Jazz Band (NACJB): Matt Roberts, saxophonists Noah Carisse and Patrick Vafaie, bass trombonist Ben Glauser, and drummer Sam Alexander. There were no women in the band.
Playing in the band gave the students a comprehensive introduction to classic big band jazz, from the 1930s to the 2000s, selected by band director and University of Toronto jazz studies professor Gordon Foote. Their work culminated in a full-scale, hour-long concert before a packed house on the last day of MusicFest Canada's national conference, with guest artist trombonist Kelsley Grant.
“It was intense. It was a lot of fun, very gratifying.” That's how renowned guitarist Lorne Lofsky described the week he spent with six young musicians from across Canada, as they worked together to form this year's Humber National Youth Jazz Combo.
The combo performed before and after the awards ceremony at MusicFest Canada on May 17 in Ottawa, and received a standing ovation at the end of their hour-long concert.
They will be together again in Toronto at the end of June for the Toronto Jazz Festival. Humber College has offered the program to “Canada’s most outstanding young jazz musicians” since 2012, in order to “move their playing to a new level through rehearsal, performance and study”.