Pianist Robi Botos poses with the statue of Oscar Peterson outside  Canada's National Arts Centre. Botos, a protege of Pederson's, will help celebrate his music and inspiration as part of Canada Scene in 2017 ©Brett Delmage, 2016
Pianist Robi Botos poses with the statue of Oscar Peterson outside Canada's National Arts Centre. Botos, a protege of Pederson's, will help celebrate his music and inspiration as part of Canada Scene in 2017 ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Canada's National Arts Centre (NAC) announced its 2017 Canada Scene festival today, including a major tribute to Oscar Peterson with pianists Robi Botos, Oliver Jones, Jon Kimura Parker, Bill Charlap, Gerald Clayton, Benny Green, and Justin Kauflin.

The Canada Scene festival will run from June 15 to July 30, 2017 – the middle of Canada's 150th birthday year. It will feature artists from across Canada in music , dance, theatre, culinary and visual art, performing at the newly-renovated NAC. It will also be the culmination of seven previous “Scene” festivals at the NAC which celebrated different regions of Canada between 2003 and 2015.

Robi Botos opened the launch event playing a swinging and virtuosic rendition of Peterson's “Blues for Smedley”. He will be one of seven “renowned pianists and close friends of Peterson” included in the July 10 “Oscar, with Love” tribute in Southam Hall – playing on Peterson's own beloved Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano, which will travel to Ottawa for this occasion. The evening will be hosted by Peterson's daughter, Céline.

Fellow Canadians Oliver Jones and Jon Kimura Parker will also perform, along with Americans Bill Charlap, Gerald Clayton, Benny Green, and Justin Kauflin. They will be accompanied by renowned Canadian bassist Dave Young, who played with Peterson for 35 years, in appearances in the Oscar Peterson Trio all over the world up until Peterson’s death in 2007.

Young released an Aspects Of Oscar tribute album with Botos in 2011. In 2012, Young, Botos, and drummer Terry Clarke appeared at a star-studded tribute to Peterson in Ottawa, organized by the German Embassy to celebrate the historical connections between Germany and the Canadian jazz icon.

Botos, Jones, Charlap, Clayton, Green, Kauflin, and Young are also included on the recently-released Oscar with Love CD organized by Peterson's widow, Kelly Peterson, of performances on Peterson's Bösendorfer of never-before-heard Peterson compositions.

Dutch jazz vocalist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt have developed many ties to Canadians in the last 25 years – starting with composer Kenny Wheeler and more recently with guitarist Michael Occhipinti. The duo is touring across Canada this month, including an Ottawa gig on Friday at the Mercury Lounge.

T

Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt [photo by Jiri Büller]
Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt [photo by Jiri Büller]
hey'll perform their own thoughtful and multi-layered original music – playing with different rhythm sections in each city – and also promote a book Vandoorn has written on the art of jazz singing from a very practical perspective.

Their first experiences of Canada were when they studied at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 1991 and 1993 – “really a very important thing for us”, Vandoorn said. At Banff, they met renowned Canadian trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler, “and played his music and we started to be friends”.

“It was an honour to work with him. He loved Marc's music and his contributions were spot on. He was a very shy, but also witty man and we laughed a lot.”

Then when they were about to make their first CD, “we asked Kenny if he was interested in being our featured guest at the CD – and he wanted to do that, so that's how we got to know him better. So we played with him several times in the Netherlands.”

“We always kept in contact and Marc and Kenny discussed sometimes each others compositions and arrangements. Very special. He was also very generous and when he had heard us play he called us afterwards to tell us how much he loved it.”

In Banff, Vandoorn also met vocalist Norma Winstone, and “we became friends. At some point I was invited at a festival to do a special project, and I decided to invite her for a vocal duet. We did it twice at different festivals.”

In 2012, Vandoorn and van Vugt released a single, “Holysloot”, an intimate jazz song inspired by a Dutch lowlands winter scene. She agreed it was influenced by Wheeler and Winstone. “The way Kenny is composing and the way that he is treating harmonies I think that is something that both Marc and I like a lot. And I'm sure a fan of Norma's singing. And yes, you could hear that there.”

The duo has toured Canada five times, playing festivals including the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 1998. This will be their first time playing Canadian clubs, however, Vandoorn said. They've spent the last week in southern Ontario, teaching students at masterclasses and clinics (including with Christine Duncan's Element Choir) and playing concerts – and have been very happy with the response.

“I must say that all the Canadian audiences are very receptive for our music. First of all, I think that jazz is quite important in Canada. The people are much more used to listening to jazz, I would say, than maybe in the Netherlands. So we have really nice audiences, very committed. And they really love our music so so far it has been great.”

There's lots more heartfelt jazz to hear in Ottawa-Gatineau in the third week of November. Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's independent look at what's bright in jazz in a traditionally grey month.

Subscribe to our weekly jazz newsletter for details of these events and more.

On Thursday, November 17, Montreal jazz vocalist Karen Young makes a rare local appearance together with long-time musical compatriots guitarist Sylvain Provost and bassist Normand Guilbeault. They'll be performing at La Scène des Galeries Aylmer in Gatineau, showcasing their album You Make me Feel So Young. Expect songs by Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, and Billy Strayhorn, in interpretations full of “groove, swing, and sleek sensuality”.

Student performances start this month, with the Carleton University Jazz Fusion ensemble directed by Wayne Eagles ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Student performances start this month, with the Carleton University Jazz Fusion ensemble directed by Wayne Eagles ©Brett Delmage, 2014
If you prefer a heavier beat, the Carleton University Jazz Fusion student ensembles, directed by Wayne Eagles, will present their fall recital on November 17, in Kailash Mital Theatre at the university. It will be a joint concert with the West African Rhythm Ensemble, who will be playing with the university's music artist-in-residence Dong-Won Kim.

You have two opportunities to hear the Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt on Friday, November 18. They're touring across Canada in mid-November, playing with different, well-known rhythm sections in each city – in Ottawa with bassist John Geggie and drummer Michel Delage.

In the afternoon, they'll give a masterclass at Carleton University, with Vandoorn presenting material from her book, Singing From the Inside Out. That evening, they'll be at the Mercury Lounge. Winners of the Edison Award (the Dutch equivalent of our Juno), the duo explores both improvisation and lyrical songs, “full of rich harmonies and haunting melodies” and including echoes of the Brazilian choro and Scandinavian pop. Read our interview with Ineke Vandoorn.

Buckingham Buzz Jazz returns on November 18 for its third installment. It opens with Betty Ann Bryanton's Sideways Bend, which played two sold-out and happily-received concerts of uncommon jazz tunes earlier this year [read our review]. They're followed by the Ottawa trio Jazz'n Time, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, performing a mix of standards, contemporary tunes, and originals.

Each year, CBC Radio-Canada chooses a promising young jazz artist from Quebec to promote in its Révélations series, and Montreal pianist Simon Denizart is the 2016-17 winner. He and his trio, with Jeanne Corpataux on bass and Simon Bellemare on drums, release their second CD, Beautiful People, this month. They’ll appear at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge on November 18-19 – just before they play l'Astral in Montreal. Initially influenced by Esbjörn Svensson, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, and Keith Jarrett, the trio primarily now plays Denizart's originals: music that is “soft and melodic while always driving, due to the energy the trio establishes every time they hit the band stand.”

Updated November 22
There's lots more heartfelt jazz to hear in Ottawa-Gatineau in the final half of November. Here's OttawaJazzScene.ca's independent look at what's bright in jazz in a traditionally grey month.

Subscribe to our weekly jazz newsletter for details of these events and more.

On Thursday, November 17, Montreal jazz vocalist Karen Young makes a rare local appearance together with long-time musical compatriots guitarist Sylvain Provost and bassist Normand Guilbeault. They'll be performing at La Scène des Galeries Aylmer in Gatineau, showcasing their album You Make me Feel So Young. Expect songs by Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, and Billy Strayhorn, in interpretations full of “groove, swing, and sleek sensuality”.

Student performances start this month, with the Carleton University Jazz Fusion ensemble directed by Wayne Eagles ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Student performances start this month, with the Carleton University Jazz Fusion ensemble directed by Wayne Eagles ©Brett Delmage, 2014
If you prefer a heavier beat, the Carleton University Jazz Fusion student ensembles, directed by Wayne Eagles, will present their fall recital on November 17, in Kailash Mital Theatre at the university. It will be a joint concert with the West African Rhythm Ensemble, who will be playing with the university's music artist-in-residence Dong-Won Kim.

You have two opportunities to hear the Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt on Friday, November 18. They're touring across Canada in mid-November, playing with different, well-known rhythm sections in each city – in Ottawa with bassist John Geggie and drummer Michel Delage.

In the afternoon, they'll give a masterclass at Carleton University, with Vandoorn presenting material from her book, Singing From the Inside Out. That evening, they'll be at the Mercury Lounge. Winners of the Edison Award (the Dutch equivalent of our Juno), the duo explores both improvisation and lyrical songs, “full of rich harmonies and haunting melodies” and including echoes of the Brazilian choro and Scandinavian pop. Read our interview with Ineke Vandoorn.

Buckingham Buzz Jazz returns on November 18 for its third installment. It opens with Betty Ann Bryanton's Sideways Bend, which played two sold-out and happily-received concerts of uncommon jazz tunes earlier this year [read our review]. They're followed by the Ottawa trio Jazz'n Time, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, performing a mix of standards, contemporary tunes, and originals.

Each year, CBC Radio-Canada chooses a promising young jazz artist from Quebec to promote in its Révélations series, and Montreal pianist Simon Denizart is the 2016-17 winner. He and his trio, with Jeanne Corpataux on bass and Simon Bellemare on drums, release their second CD, Beautiful People, this month. They’ll appear at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge on November 18-19 – just before they play l'Astral in Montreal. Initially influenced by Esbjörn Svensson, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, and Keith Jarrett, the trio primarily now plays Denizart's originals: music that is “soft and melodic while always driving, due to the energy the trio establishes every time they hit the band stand.”

Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt help Mercury Lounge celebrate its 20th Anniversary [photo by Jiri Büller]
Dutch jazz duo of vocalist/pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt help Mercury Lounge celebrate its 20th Anniversary [photo by Jiri Büller]
Pianist Miguel de Armas is shaking up his Friday night series at the Marshes golf club in Kanata this month. On November 18, de Armas is joined by vocalist Claudia Salguero, well-known for her sold-out NAC shows of boleros and Latin jazz, and bassist Sylvio Modolo – for their first public collaboration. And on November 25, guitarist and vocalist Rômmel Ribeiro pays tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, along with de Armas and bassist J.P. Lapensée.

Stephane Wrembel learned his craft among the Gypsies at campsites in the French countryside (after years of training in classical piano) – and scored the theme to the 2012 Oscar-winning film Midnight in Paris. A summa cum laude Berklee graduate, Wrembel has just released his fifth album, Origins, in which he endeavours to transcend and expand his original music beyond Django Reinhardt-style jazz manouche, adding influences from blues to flamenco. He performs two shows of different material with his band at GigSpace on Saturday, November 19, and will also be offering a jazz guitar workshop.

On November 19, Rômmel Ribeiro brings his Rommelera Band to Le Petit Chicago, playing Brazilian music and jazz, with touches of Afrobeat, reggae, and funk.

On Sunday, November 20, Standing Room Only plays its regular afternoon tea dance in Almonte with classic big band tunes which invite you to get up and dance. The dances are held in Almonte's Old Town Hall, which not only has a sprung wooden floor for dancing, but also has excellent acoustics for listening.

That evening, you can hear a much edgier large ensemble, as the eight-piece Rakestar Arkestra performs improvised music at the House of Common which is by Sun Ra or inspired by his cosmic vision. For this show, the Arkestra will play a single “long and extra-adventurous set of Sun Ra melodies by tossing them helter-skelter into the musical mixing bowl and stirring them together. No set list, no limits.”

Korean percussionist and vocalist Dong-Won Kim is Carleton University's music artist-in-residence this fall, and has been offering a series of Friday morning masterclasses to students on listening and composition. OttawaJazzScene.ca's editors have seen him perform several times at the Guelph Jazz Festival and have been very impressed by his inventiveness and responsiveness in the moment.

On Tuesday, November 22, Dong-Won Kim will perform with pianist and Carleton University professor James McGowan in a free concert at Steinway Piano Gallery off Innes Road in Ottawa's east end. The show is called Spontaneous Sound & Spirituality, and will feature the two creating inter-cultural music in real time without any pre-defined themes or musical agenda. “Drawing upon both the juxtapositions and inter-connections among stylistic traditions, instrumental timbres, and conceptions of spirituality, what results when these two experienced improvisers come together transcends labels and creates an engaging fusion of sound and energy.”

Korean percussioniust Dong-Won Kim brings his music to Ottawa ears this month in several concerts and masterclasses ©2014 Brett Delmage
Korean percussioniust Dong-Won Kim brings his music to Ottawa ears this month in several concerts and masterclasses ©2014 Brett Delmage
IMOO, which is having a busy month, will hold a special show on Wednesday, November 23 at House of Common, featuring PLANT – Quebec bassist Éric Normand and Australian flutist and saxophonist Jim Denley. Both also use electronics in their music. The duo has performed together twice in Rimouski, Quebec, and has released the live recordings of both performances as CDs or LPs.

Their homes are separated by almost 17,000 km and the Pacific ocean, and they have different native tongues, and yet “they are involved in a music practice that allows them to come together, without rehearsal and shared experience, to collectively create. This is true ‘world music’.  … There is no ‘compromise’ in this coming together, each musician is able to be himself, with local influences undiluted, but with enough shared methodology to work in parallel.”  

On Thursday, November 24, the Quebec chamber jazz group Esmerine make their yearly trek to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. A perennial favourite for both jazz and world music fans, the group is centred on cello and percussion with other instruments like violin adding special touches. Its music incorporates genres such as drone music, post punk, and Turkish folk. Esmerine won an Juno for Instrumental Album for Dalmak [2013].

Also that evening, the Carlos Alberto Santana Jazz Band officially releases its debut CD, Oye Latino, in a show at the Mercury Lounge. You can read about the circuitous path Santana took to releasing this album in the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview.

On November 18, vocalist Claudia Salguero appears at Miguel de Armas Friday night jazz series for their first public collaboration. ©2015 Brett Delmage
On November 18, vocalist Claudia Salguero appears at Miguel de Armas Friday night jazz series for their first public collaboration. ©2015 Brett Delmage
On Thursday, November 24, saxophonist Petr Cancura begins a new year of his National Arts Centre Crossroads folk/jazz series, the time in the NAC Theatre with local singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. The idea behind the series is that Cancura works with the folk musician to create jazz arrangements of their sonigs; they then perform the arrangements together, along with jazz musicians Roddy Ellias, John Geggie, and Greg Ritchie. OttawaJazzScene.ca reported the first of these collaborations in video, with Ian Tamblyn  [Petr Cancura and Ian Tamblyn combine jazz, folk in satisfying Crossroads concert] and reviewed the second Crossroads show with Lynn Miles. Expect the singer-songwriter ethos to predominate over the jazz arrangements.

On Friday, November 25, Dong-Won Kim reunites with Ottawa percussionist and Carleton University professor Jesse Stewart. The two musical friends have performed several times together in Ottawa, Guelph, and elsewhere. They'll perform two shows at GigSpace, freely improvised, with each energizing and engaging the other with different instruments and ideas. Dong-Won Kim plays specifically Korean drums and gongs, but has also been known to create music from whatever's at hand – even drumming on a convenient piano.

On Friday, November 25, local saxophonist and flutist Rene Lavoie collaborates with Toronto flutist Bill McBirnie in the Court Mais Jazz series at La Nouvelle Scène. Together with Tim Bedner on guitar and Normand Glaude on bass, they'll play a varied selection of classic jazz tunes: Brazilian melodies, standards like “In a Sentimental Mood”, classic bebop and post-bop tunes by Dizzy Gillespie,  Hank Mobley, and Horace Silver – and some Miles Davis and Monk.

The series has an unusual format, including National Film Board short films interleaved with the  music. Read our review of the first show in the series with Sienna Dahlen.

McBirnie will also give a free masterclass at noon on November 25 at Carleton University, in the Patrick Cardy Studio (A900) in the Loeb Building.

The last show in this year's Buckingham Buzz Jazz series, on November 25, opens with a reprise of Caroline Cook's and Martine Grenier's Now is the Time show from earlier this month. They will be followed by a rare appearance by Florquestra, which combines authentic and lively Brazilian rhythms (samba, forró, axé, and more) with the romantic music and poetic style of French songwriter Georges Brassens.

Also on November 25, guitarist and vocalist Rômmel Ribeiro pays tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim at the Marshes, along with Miguel de Armas and bassist J.P. Lapensée.

Percussionist Michel Delage pays tribute to Monk this month, featuring Montreal pianist Jean Michel Pilc [photo by Steve Sussman]
Percussionist Michel Delage pays tribute to Monk this month, featuring Montreal pianist Jean Michel Pilc [photo by Steve Sussman]
Michel Delage has brought in some excellent musicians from other Canadian cities for his monthly tribute series at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge. He's got a real catch this month. On Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26, he and bassist Alex Bilodeau will perform with renowned French pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, who is currently based in Montreal and teaching jazz at McGill University. Pilc was last in Ottawa in 2015, in a joyous and tender trio show at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival [read our review]

They’ll reinterpret the music of pianist Thelonious Monk – a composer whose work is so notoriously individual and immediately recognizable that any musicians playing his compositions must walk a very fine line between excessive reverence and not staying true to the bones of the music. Pilc promises “lots of improvisation and lots of fun” in the shows, but says he hasn't yet picked which Monk tunes the trio will play. As he writes with a twinkle in his keyboard: “I love all of TM's music so I don't really have favorites, or rather, they are all favorites of mine.”

This is the second time Delage has paid tribute to Monk: the first was with Hamilton pianist Adrean Farrugia 18 months ago [review]

On Sunday, November 27, the trio will perform a shorter version of this tribute in an afternoon show at The Record Centre in Hintonburg.

Ottawa vocalist Steve Berndt gives a sneak preview of his  upcoming CD at GigSpace ©2015 Brett Delmage
Ottawa vocalist Steve Berndt gives a sneak preview of his upcoming CD at GigSpace ©2015 Brett Delmage
On Saturday, November 26, Ottawa vocalist Steve Berndt will give a sneak preview of his  upcoming CD when he appears at GigSpace, together with Steve Boudreau on piano, Alex Mastronardi on bass, and David Pontello on drums. Berndt has written a number of original songs for the album, which will be his first solo release: he'll present those along with pop tunes from the 60's and 70's done in a jazz treatment.

Berndt has released two duo albums of standards with pianist Brian Brown, Déjà Vu and All Over Again, each of which included one of his own songs evoking the classic feel of jazz standards. He's also written many originals for the jivin' jump blues/jazz group The Jivewires for their five albums.

Also on November 26, the NAC will again present Polaris and Juno-winning throat singer Tanya Tagaq with two notable improvisers – percussionist Jean Martin and violinist Jesse Zubot –   this time in the NAC Theatre. And at the Mercury Lounge, you can hear the dancing rhythms of the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra on November 26. The orchestra, which was nominated for a Juno this year, fuses Colombian percussion with the music of gypsy brass bands from Eastern Europe.

On Sunday, November 27, the new jazz series at the Church of the Ascension in Ottawa East will showcase Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio. OttawaJazzScene.ca was particularly impressed with this trio's mix of Balkan melodies and fiery improvisation when it was premiered at Le Petit Chicago in 2014, and is glad to see Wellman reviving it. [review] Wellman says he's excited at how the rehearsals are going, with himself on alto sax, Mike Essoudry on drums, and Keith Hartshorn-Walton sitting  in on tuba. He expects they will be including at least a couple new tunes. We reported about the positive experience at the first Ascension Jazz series show last month.

Ottawa-Gatineau is jam-packed with with jazz jams, in locations across both cities and on many days of the week: Jazz Mondays at Le Petit Chicago in Gatineau, Tuesday jams with the Beeched Wailers at The Wellington Eatery in Hintonburg, Wednesday jams at Café Nostalgica in Sandy Hill, Thursdays with the HML Trio at Brookstreet in Kanata, two Fridays a month at the Georgetown Pub in Ottawa South, and JazzWorks' monthly Sunday afternoon jams in Westboro.

Now a new monthly jam is starting: at the Record Runner Studios on Colonnade Road in central Nepean. The open jam will run from 7 to 10 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month: November 27 this month.

You'll hear talk about financial charts, not musical charts played, at the Ottawa Jazz Festival Annual General Meeting this month [graphic: OttawaJazzScene.ca]
You'll hear talk about financial charts, not musical charts played, at the Ottawa Jazz Festival Annual General Meeting this month [graphic: OttawaJazzScene.ca]
Interested in the Ottawa Jazz Festival’s financial and operational results this past year? On Monday, November 28 at 6 p.m., the Festival holds its annual general meeting in the Colonel By Room on the second floor of Ottawa City Hall, where it will elect next year's board of directors and hear reports from the treasurer, the president, and the executive director. Read our reports about what happened in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Looking for a more harmonious experience? Also on November 28, the Carleton University Guitar Ensemble will hold a free recital in the Patrick Cardy Studio, Room A900 in the Loeb Building at the University.

And if you'd prefer a larger sound, the Stan Clark Orchestra will fill the Metropolitain Brasserie downtown with big band fanfares and the vocals of veteran Ottawa crooner Johny Vegas on November 28.

Peeking into December, the first week is extremely busy with vocals and instrumentals, and everything from classic favourites to the avant-garde. We've already got details of 19 events in just the first five days of December! Donate to our reader funding campaign to be one of the first to learn more about them.

    – Alayne McGregor

Read about the first week of November's highlights, including series continuing throughout this month.

Update November 22: Added the Carlos Alberto Santana CD release show on November 24.

Safe Low Limit
Le Petit Chicago
All Jazz Mondays in November, 2016

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Safe Low Limit opened its November residency at Le Petit Chicago Monday night – with music extending far into the bass clef.

Safe Low Limit (l-r): Steve Berndt, Michel Delage, Keith Hartshorn-Walton. Ken Kanwisher offer something different on Monday nights at LPC in November.   ©Brett Delmage, 2016
Safe Low Limit (l-r): Steve Berndt, Michel Delage, Keith Hartshorn-Walton. Ken Kanwisher offer something different on Monday nights at LPC in November. ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Trombone: Steve Berndt. Cello: Ken Kanwisher. Tuba: Keith Walton. Drums: Michel Delage. Your standard jazz quartet instrumentation it wasn't.

It was the very first show for the group as a quartet. Kanwisher first started working on these arrangements for a previous group, Berndt said – and then he and Berndt started playing together last spring. They debuted some of this music as a duo at the 24-hour Jazz Ramble in June, and then decided to expand to a quartet.

“Keith Walton saw us and thought it was a cool idea so we decided to ask him if he'd like to join in.  That's when we made the decision to go all bass clef instruments, [to] ask Michel Delage if he'd like to get involved and not have a piano or guitar.

They picked the name “Safe Low Limit” because it is “an arranging term that describes a formula that identifies the low point at which harmony ceases to be clear based on the fundamental of a given series of notes played at the same time. It seemed to be the right name for this band!”

Amy Brandon CD Release of Scavenger, with Roddy Ellias
Metro Music, Ottawa
Saturday, November 12, 2016 – 4 p.m.

Guitarist Amy Brandon released her debut CD, Scavenger, in an hour-long afternoon concert in Ottawa Saturday. The CD mixes jazz, classical, and new music, and features her playing solo and in duos, with guitarists Roddy Ellias and Mike Rud and vocalist Laura Swankey – but also with herself.

Amy Brandon released her debut CD, Scavenger, in Ottawa at Metro Music on November 12. She released it in Toronto the following day. ©Brett Delmage, 2016
Amy Brandon released her debut CD, Scavenger, in Ottawa at Metro Music on November 12. She released it in Toronto the following day. ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Many of the pieces on Scavenger are electro-acoustic, with Brandon playing guitar along with recordings of herself which she had substantially altered with effects. As she explained to the audience at the show, in electro-acoustic music the musician can either manipulate sound live (live-processed) or play against previously-recorded and processed music (fixed media).

She picked fixed media, and for four of the pieces she performed at the show, played sound files on her laptop along with her acoustic guitar. Her warm and resonant guitar-work contrasted with the recorded soundscapes, which were much more varied and unexpected. Sometimes they were dissonant and abrasive and metallic, other times attenuated and whispering and reminding one of birds calling or winds rushing.

The result was immersive and multi-layered, pulsating and almost hypnotic in places. Consistently you could hear how Brandon was responding in the moment to the soundscapes. Throughout the pieces, he audience was still and intent, listening carefully and applauding warmly.

There's more heartfelt jazz to hear in Ottawa-Gatineau in the second week of November.

When clarinetist David Renaud released his duo album with Brian Browne in February, you only had one opportunity to hear them play the music live. But you have two more opportunities this month!

On Wednesday, November 9, they'll perform selections from First Love in a noon-hour concert at Southminster United Church. Browne will play the church's recently-refurbished nine-foot Heintzman grand piano, and the excellent acoustics will provide a fine background for the duo's romantic melodies and gospel numbers. If you can't make that show, Renaud and Browne will also perform at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge in Kanata on the evening of Wednesday, November 30. Renaud is working on a second duo album with Browne, with material they recorded but didn't have room for on the first album, and may also include songs from that upcoming CD at both shows.

Also on November 9 at Southminster, vocalist Jill Barber and her quartet will headline an Ottawa Jazz Festival benefit concert in the evening. Barber's latest album “explores different musical styles, from traditional country, to jazz and Motown”.

Over the years, Adrian Cho has frequently explored the connections between jazz and the American Civil Rights movement in his Ottawa Jazz Orchestra concerts. On Thursday, November 10, the orchestra presents “Freedom Fighters” at the NAC Back Stage.

Cho says that this show will include “some of the music we've never performed before. However you can be sure we'll also perform a number of the civil rights and black church 'jazz anthems' that are hard to go past. This music is always so exciting and intense and there are so many important stories behind that make the music still truly relevant today given what's happening around the world.”

On Friday, November 11, the second installment of Buckingham Buzz Jazz takes the stage, beginning with vocalist Doreen Smith singing “songs of anticipation, unfettered joy and heartbreak presented in true 'old School' form”, accompanied by guitarist Tim Bedner. They'll be followed by the Quebec group Cinq Gars Une Fille, which blends Latin and South American jazz rhythms with classic French songs – performed on accordion, guitar, violin, bass, and percussion. Their influences include Richard Galliano, Astor Piazzolla, Raoul Barboza, and Marc Berthoumieux.

This month you can hear jazz projects close to the hearts of the musicians who are performing them.

Django Libre will deliver a joyful evening of gypsy jazz that they love  ©2014 Brett Delmage
Django Libre will deliver a joyful evening of gypsy jazz that they love ©2014 Brett Delmage
From CD releases to reunions to new combinations, from swing dance contests to tributes, there are many heartfelt projects being presented in November.

Visiting Ottawa will be vocalists Jill Barber, Karen Young, and Aubrey Johnson; acclaimed visual artist and pianist Michael Snow; chamber jazz group Esmerine; Dutch vocalist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt; guitarists Amy Brandon, Mike Rud, and Ray Montford; the piano trios MISC and the Simon Denizart Trio from Montreal and the double-piano Parker Abbott Trio from Toronto; flutist Bill McBirnie; pianists Jean-Michel Pilc and Jean-Michel Blais; and Korean percussionist Dong-Won Kim.

The first week opens with two Ottawa vocalists, Martine Grenier and Caroline Cook, at Les Brasseurs du Temps on November 1. In a reprise of their successful show last June, "Now is the time!", they're celebrating life and their passion for performing and honoring an important birthday for both of them.

Toronto jazz vocalist Maureen Kennedy is always learning new songs and expanding her repertoire of jazz standards.

At her concert at GigSpace on October 29, Maureen Kennedy will sing some of the many jazz standards she's unearthed (photo by Paul Orenstein)
At her concert at GigSpace on October 29, Maureen Kennedy will sing some of the many jazz standards she's unearthed (photo by Paul Orenstein)
“I have a passion for learning tunes. A real passion for it, and it's kind of nerdy.”

This summer, for example, she learned six new tunes just for one show. She'll be singing all six in Ottawa this Saturday at her quartet show at GigSpace, performing with saxophonist Rob Frayne, pianist Jeff Johnston, and bassist Alec Walkington.

Some she learns from sheet music, and some from listening to recordings of other singers, particularly from the classic vocal jazz era of the 1950s. But, after many years in the business, she's gone well beyond Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, or Sarah Vaughan to “obscure singers that people don't know that well”, such as Irene Kral or Jeri Southern.

“There was such a wealth of singers back in the 50s when singing standards was the popular music of the day. There were a lot of good singers that never became as famous … Teddi King was a really great singer. June Christy. Chris Connor. Singers that people aren't as familiar with. There are just a lot of great singers, and I've checked out a lot of their recordings and just picked up tunes from them.”

By day, Kennedy is a Media Librarian and visual researcher for the CBC in Toronto – where she has been able to access CBC's extensive sheet music collection. “In the days when we did a lot of music on television and radio, the Music Library would just order all this sheet music, and it's such a great collection!”

Jane Bunnett is still amazed at the success of her all-woman Afro-Cuban jazz group, Maqueque.

“Three years ago, this project was a leap of faith. I didn't know if this idea would have any legs. But I thought, 'Let's try it! Let's try to put something together for a recording, all females, and just see what happens.' "

Maqueque got its crowd clapping and cheering for its first shows in Ottawa in 2014 at GigSpace ©2014 Brett Delmage
Maqueque got its crowd clapping and cheering for its first shows in Ottawa in 2014 at GigSpace ©2014 Brett Delmage
Since then, Maqueque – the Canadian jazz saxophonist/flutist plus five young women musicians from Cuba – has toured all over Canada and the U.S. and as far away as Australia. They played before thousands at the Chicago Jazz Festival last fall, with an almost-unprecedented encore demanded by the crowd. In May, they received at standing ovation at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and then recorded a “Tiny Desk Concert” in the offices of National Public Radio – which has so far garnered almost 29,000 views. And they won a Juno Award for their first album.

The group has just released its second album, Oddara, and will bring it to Ottawa on Wednesday, October 19, for a concert at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans. Besides Bunnett, Maqueque includes Yissy Garcia on drums, Dánae Olano on piano, Magdelys Savigne on batá drums and congas, Elizabeth Rodriguez on violin and vocals, and Celia Jiménez on bass.

Bunnett's heart was in the project, both musically and as an organizer, but she recognized the risks.