UPDATED June 23: the Festival has just announced that the Max Weinberg concert has been cancelled due to bad weather in Chicago.

UPDATED June 16: jazz poet, singer, and author Gil Scott-Heron has been added to the evening, and we have more information on the artists.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival has announced the lineup of its free advance concert on June 23:

Scott-Heron's first album, in 1970, contained the powerful song/beat poetry piece The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, an attack on the media and the treatment of American blacks. It was followed by a series of albums in the 1970s and 1980s, many with soul and jazz influences, and containing political and cultural commentary. His vocal delivery and style has been considered an important formative influence on hip-hop.

He released very few albums from the mid-1980s onwards, and his life was blighted by a prison sentence for a drug conviction. This spring, however, I’m New Here, his first new album in 15 years, appeared to critical acclaim. A review in the UK Guardian described it as "fiercely alive", and said it showed "a man embracing the music he helped create [hip-hop], and taking it to new places."

Weinberg has been the drummer in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for 36 years, as well as the band leader for Conan O'Brien on O'Brien's former TV talk shows. His Big Band debuted in December, 2009. Its 15 members continue "the traditions established by Max’s musical heroes - among whom, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Doc Severinsen, and Maynard Ferguson lead the pack."

Weinberg said, “I think playing with Tony Bennett opened my eyes to what I might actually be able to do if I worked hard at my music to eventually step away from the rock genre. Tony was swingin’ and he told me and my band that we swung him. That was huge for me and I can directly link that first performance in 1997 with sparking my interest in creating my own Big Band.”

You could consider the free concert a bargain: for one concert by Weinberg's Big Band June 11 in New Jersey, some of the VIP tickets were $500 and up!

Ron Sweetman at 2008 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2008
Ron Sweetman at 2008 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2008
Ever since the Ottawa Jazz Festival started in 1981, Ron Sweetman has been giving jazz listeners an advance taste of the best of the Festival.

And this Wednesday June 9 at 9 p.m. on radio station CKCU (93.1 FM), he'll again be presenting tracks from 22 jazz artists whom you should hear. They range from popular artists like Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, and Joshua Redman to less familiar ones like Manu Katche, Little Red Suitcase, and Eric Boeren.

Sweetman's weekly jazz radio show, In a Mellow Tone, started in 1976, five years before the Festival. He supported the festival from the "very first day it existed", and was part of the programming committee in its early days.

How does his Festival highlights show help jazz listeners? "I think there are often names with which they're not familiar, ... probably only known by the inner core of jazz fans. ... Let's take a group like Mostly Other People Do the Killing, who, despite their horrible name, are among my favourite artists. They were voted as such by the Jazz Journalists Association, but they've never appeared on the Downbeat Readers' Poll. We need to tell people about these lesser-known, less-publicized talents. They issue their records on their own label, so they haven't got the budgets of Columbia behind them to make them well-known names."

Approximation of the new, reserved "Platinum" seating area at the 2010 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo illustration © Brett Delmage
Approximation of the new, reserved "Platinum" seating area at the 2010 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo illustration © Brett Delmage

The Ottawa Jazz Festival is introducing a new premium seating area at the front of Confederation Park, meaning that regular festival-goers will be pushed further back from the stage.

The new Platinum reserved seating will cost $65 per night, and replace a ticket to a particular night's show. Gold and bronze pass holders will not have free access to the area, and will not get a discount on the price. According to Festival executive producer Catherine O'Grady, a maximum of 80 seats will be sold for any one evening: four rows of 20 seats each. The seats will be placed immediately alongside the barrier in front of the stage; they will be roped off from the rest of the park, and Festival volunteers will ensure that only Platinum ticket-holders sit there.

The actual effect of the seating will vary per show. As of Friday, O'Grady said, 74 of the 80 seats for Dave Brubeck's show on July 3 had sold, and she expected the remaining seats to go quickly. For other nights, as few as four seats have been sold. Only enough seats will be put out each night to accommodate the tickets sold by 5 p.m. that night.

Marching band at the 2009 Ottawa Jazz Festival ©2009 Brett Delmage
Marching band at the 2009 Ottawa Jazz Festival ©2009 Brett Delmage

Ottawa Jazz Scene is covering the 2010 annual Ottawa International Jazz Festival, as part of the year-round Ottawa - Gatineau jazz scene.

Jazz Fest launch feature articles

OttawaJazzScene.ca's 30 day countdown to the 30th Ottawa International Jazz Festival, June 24 to July 4

Check OttawaJazzScene.ca each day for a new article in our 30-day countdown to the start of this year's Festival. You may also wish to subscribe to our RSS feed to keep informed about site updates.

Wednesday June 23: special free concert
Thursday June 24, noon: first concert of the Ottawa International Jazz Festival
Sunday, July 4:
final concert of Ottawa International Jazz Festival

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Jazz Mutants vocalist Peter Liu and bassist Peter MacGibbon at The Lookout Bar, 2009 Dec. 2. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009
Jazz Mutants vocalist Peter Liu and bassist Peter MacGibbon at The Lookout Bar, 2009 Dec. 2. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009

After 16 months, the monthly Jazz Evolution jazz nights have ended.

Peter Liu, who organized the evenings and played there with the Jazz Mutants and invited local bands, said the end came when the Lookout Bar decided to make every Wednesday night a karaoke night at the bar. "They were nice enough to offer to move us to another day, but it felt like time to wrap things up and move forward."

"Scott [Poll] told me that it's remarkable to keep a series or regular gig going for that long, and I'm very glad we stuck it through our change of venue last year. The Lookout was a great place for us, and I'll always have fond memories of our time there."

The members of the Jazz Mutants (Liu on vocals, Alf Warnock on guitar and Peter MacGibbon on bass, plus others) met at the JazzWorks camp and jam nights. The Jazz Evolution nights started at the New Bayou (where the JazzWorks jams also occurred) and then moved to the first Wednesday of the month at the Lookout Bar when the Bayou closed. Each evening, a different invited band would play an opening set, and then Liu and the Jazz Mutants would play vocal and instrumental standards, with members of the opening band usually sitting in.

John Scofield plays the main stage of the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 20, 2003. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2003
John Scofield plays the main stage of the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 20, 2003. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2003
After delighting a huge crowd at the 2003 Ottawa Jazz Festival, John Scofield returns with the Piety Street Band to the Festival's main stage on Sunday June 27 at 9 p.m.

Together with Bill Frisell this year, and Pat Metheny in 2009, Scofield completes a lineup of top guitarists appearing at the jazzfest. He has performed with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, the Billy Cobham-George Duke Band, Charles Mingus and recorded with Miles Davis.


The Youth Summit's Nick Maclean plays in their 2008 Canada Day concert. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2008
The Youth Summit's Nick Maclean plays in their 2008 Canada Day concert. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2008

On Canada Day, jazz fans will have lots of choices, and all free.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) has just announced its musical lineup for the day: it includes jazz on Parliament Hill and other venues, as well as in coordination with the Ottawa Jazz Festival at Confederation Park.

The evening show on Parliament Hill will include performances by

  • Cuban singer/guitarist Alex Cuba,
  • Saskatchewan jazz chanteuse Dione Taylor,
  • gospel/jazz favourites the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, and
  • boogie-woogie/jazz pianist and singer Michael Kaeshammer.

It will run from 6:30 to 11 p.m., and will be broadcast on CBC, CBC Newsworld, Radio-Canada and RDI starting at 9 p.m., and carried live on CBC Bold.

Dione Taylor will also be part of the noon show on Parliament Hill. This show will be broadcast live on CBC Television, CBC Newsworld, Radio-Canada and RDI.

Herbie Hancock with Lionel Louecke on the main stage at the 2008 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2008
Herbie Hancock with Lionel Louecke on the main stage at the 2008 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2008
Pianist and composer Herbie Hancock returns to the Ottawa Jazzfest's main stage Concerts Under the Stars series this year on Friday June 25.

At the 2008 Festival, Ottawa fans enjoyed his group's live performance of River: the Joni letters, which won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Hancock's group this year includes Vinnie Colaiuta – drums, Lionel Loueke – guitar, Greg Phillinganes – keyboards and Tal Wilkenfeld – bass.

On June 21, Hancock will be releasing his latest album: The Imagine Project, to coincide with his 70th birthday. The CD will be accompanied by a  DVD of a documentary film. 

The project features collaborations between Hancock and over a dozen superstars from every region of the planet. The music will combine Hancock's own vision with the local musical identity of cultures from around the world and use the universal language of music to express its central themes of peace and global responsibility. Noted Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi To The Dark Side) is serving as one of the film’s producers.

The recordings took place in each collaborator’s home territory whenever possible, and embody the spirit, hearts, sounds, colors and flavor of each locale – a complete sensory musical experience. "The result is an album/film without borders, both a celebration and a call to action."

www.herbiehancock.com/

Christine and Ingrid Jensen perform in the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra at the 2009 National Jazz Awards, Toronto. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009
Christine and Ingrid Jensen perform in the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra at the 2009 National Jazz Awards, Toronto. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009

The popular Canadian sisters in jazz, Christine Jensen (sax) and Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), return to the Ottawa Jazz Festival this year with the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra. They will appear at the OLG tent on Saturday, June 26 at 10:30 p.m.

The Jensens have appeared regularly at the festival over the years, most recently in 2008, with Nordic Connect and also providing master classes for the Youth Summit.

Bill Frisell performs at the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival. <br>photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Bill Frisell performs at the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007

When Bill Frisell performs two concerts at the 2010 Ottawa Jazz Festival, it will only be his third time at the jazz festival.

However, he has been in Ottawa regularly, just at many other venues:

  • July, 1989: Ottawa Jazz Festival (National Gallery auditorium)
  • July, 1993: Cultures Canada Festival (National Gallery auditorium)
    August, 1999: Barrymore's
  • May, 2001: Tulip Festival (Major's Hill Park)
  • July, 2005: Bluesfest (as part of the Steel Summit)
  • June, 2007: Ottawa Jazz Festival (special Pass-Plus concert at the National Library auditorium)