The titles won't tell you everything when it comes to concerts at the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

Whether it's a local band or a Big Name, often the supporting performers can be as exciting as the leaders. If you don't carefully check the listings you could miss some of your favourite performers.

For example, Winnipeg pianist and composer Michelle Gregoire (June 24) is being supported by some big-name Toronto jazz musicians: Kevin Turcotte on trumpet, Kirk MacDonald on saxophone, Ted Warren on drums, and Jim Vivian on bass.

For guitarists, Herbie Hancock's performance (June 25) could be at least as memorable for the presence of

The Ottawa Jazz Festival has just announced a new headliner for its first Saturday night (June 26).

American soul singer Bettye LaVette will be performing on the main stage. She will be preceded by the Al Henderson Septet (6 p.m.) and the David Sanborn Trio featuring Joey DeFrancesco (7:30).

LaVette was last seen in Ottawa in 2008 at Bluesfest.

In late May, LaVette released a new album: Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, which she gives soul/R&B interpretations of 60s and 70s hits by artists like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, The Moody Blues, The Animals, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and The Beatles. The theme for the album was suggested by Lavette's husband, after she brought down the house at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. with a performance of The Who's Love, Reign O'er Me.

More info: www.bettyelavette.com/
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettye_LaVette

– Alayne McGregor

Dave Brubeck energizes the keyboard at his 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival Main Stage performance. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Dave Brubeck energizes the keyboard at his 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival Main Stage performance. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Of the jazz artists who have wowed Ottawa crowds over the years, one of the most appreciated was pianist Dave Brubeck.

Brubeck appeared with his quartet at the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival. Festival organizers estimated the attendance at 9,700 for that show; the park was packed right to the back. Brubeck gave an energetic performance, notable particularly for his duets with Bobby Militello on alto sax and flute, and received several standing ovations.

Dave  Brubeck with  Bobby Militello on the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival Main Stage.  photo  ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Dave Brubeck with Bobby Militello on the 2007 Ottawa Jazz Festival Main Stage. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Brubeck will celebrate his 90th birthday this December, but is still regularly playing concerts and clubs. He's best known as one of the first proponents of the West Coast jazz style in the 1950s, and for his group's use of unusual time signatures and rhythms, both in his and saxophonist Paul Desmond's compositions. In 2006, a mini-opera he composed based on John Steinback's "Cannery Row" was presented at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

He will play with the National Arts Centre Orchestra on Saturday July 3, 2010 at 8 p.m.

More info: davebrubeck.com

Jim Fogo (l) with his son, musician Adam Fogo (r). Photo courtesy the Ottawa Jazz Festival
Jim Fogo (l) with his son, musician Adam Fogo (r). Photo courtesy the Ottawa Jazz Festival

The Ottawa Jazz Festival board has given Jim Fogo its 2010 Community Recognition Award, for his "long-time contribution to the scene locally, nationally, and internationally."

"Jim's contribution to the local scene is enormous – he is one of jazz music's great ambassadors and he is one of our dearest friends."

Fogo helped organize the International Duke Ellington Conference when it came to Ottawa in May, 1990: its first appearance in Canada. The conference attracted hundreds of delegates from North America and abroad, including scholars and Ellington enthusiasts.

He is also a former Festival board member (1996 to 2000). He encouraged the Festival to schedule well-known artists as Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Festival executive producer Catherine O'Grady said Fogo recruited her to run the festival back in the mid-1990s when the festival was in severe financial straits, and he was extremely important to the organization behind the scenes.

She said she enjoyed working with him: "he was a gentle, smart, sweet man, patient and kind."

Fogo attended Lisgar Collegiate in Ottawa, and received an engineering degree from Queen's University and a law degree from Dalhousie University. Since returning to Ottawa more than 45 years ago, the festival said, "he has been a tireless promoter of all things jazz. ... To this day, Jim loves anything with the big band sound! His knowledge is encyclopedic and his enthusiasm is dauntless."

– Alayne McGregor

Ottawa Jazz Scene is counting down the days to the start of our readers' favourite summer festival: the Ottawa Jazz Fest! We open the countdown with a look at the Ottawa Jazz Festival by the numbers.

11 days of Festival, from Thursday June 24 to Sunday July 4 inclusive

8 places to hear music: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Main Stage, NAC Studio, NAC Fourth Stage, National Library and Archives, OLG, Rideau Centre, World Exchange Plaza

1000 feet of microphone cable is used on the Main Stage, feeding 2, 48 channel mixing boards

13 series of concerts: Anniversary, Canada Day, Concerts Under the Stars, Great Canadian Jazz, Improv Invitational, Friends, Late night Jam, OLG noon hour, OLG Workshops, OLG Late night, Rendez-vous Rideau Centre, World Exchange, Youth

41 free concerts: Rendez-Vous Rideau Jazz (noon, and 2 p.m. on weekends), World Exchange Plaza (noon on weekdays), OLG Stage at noon and OLG Workshop Series

108 individual performances to be heard, plus 10 late night jams

$709,814 spent on programming (artists) in 2009

10 sizes of Jazz Festival T shirts from child's small, to adult 3XL

22,000 hours were donated by over 450 volunteers in 2009 to the Ottawa Jazz Festival

10 metric tons less solid waste was produced in 2009 compared to 2008

$140 or only $12.72 per day is all that that a bronze pass costs

0 days of rain during the 2010 Festival, according to Festival Executive Producer Catherine O'Grady

Mike Steinberg (l) and Tim Lash (r) read at the 2009 May 30 Capital Vox concert. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009
Mike Steinberg (l) and Tim Lash (r) read at the 2009 May 30 Capital Vox concert. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009
Capital Vox Assistant Music Director Richard Fujarczuk solos at the 2009 May 30 concert. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009
Capital Vox Assistant Music Director Richard Fujarczuk solos at the 2009 May 30 concert. photo ©Brett Delmage, 2009
Capital Vox will be exploring a new source for jazz standards with its two-show tribute to Paul Simon this weekend.

And choir director Elise Letourneau expects it will be a lot of fun – for both the Ottawa jazz choir and its audience.

The singers are "very psyched" at doing these songs, she said. "Paul Simon is such an icon and he's so incredibly well loved. He touches so many people in so many different ways." For her, Simon's music is "part of my inner ear."

"We have no intention of stopping being a jazz choir; however, we did want to address the issue that the standards are changing, and the standard repertoire is expanding. Time moves on, and people age and new generations bring their own standards."

In 2008, Herbie Hancock, who performs at the Ottawa Jazz Festival again in 2010, won the Best Album Grammy for River, his tribute to Joni Mitchell. Canadian jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti was nominated for a Juno in 2000 for Creation Dream, his interpretations of Bruce Cockburn's songs.

Elise Letourneau ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Elise Letourneau ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Dave Brubeck ©Brett Delmage, 2007
Dave Brubeck ©Brett Delmage, 2007

Capital Vox will celebrate a less-known side of Dave Brubeck at its opening season concert Saturday, with both choral pieces and solo piano music written by the late, renowned jazz pianist and composer.

The concert will be only a few days short of the first anniversary of Brubeck's death (December 5, 2012, just before his 92nd birthday). The Ottawa community jazz choir wanted to pay tribute to him, said director Elise Letourneau, by exploring the compositions he wrote for choir and voice.

But the piano won't be forgotten, either: the choir will be accompanied by pianist Sally Robinson, and keyboard master Brian Browne will perform solo in the middle of each set.

Brubeck is not usually associated with choral music, Letourneau said; most people have never heard the part of Brubeck's repertoire that Capital Vox will present.

In fact, up to about three years ago, she only knew of Brubeck's instrumental jazz – and then she discovered the choral compositions.

“I thought: this is really cool! And the more I looked the more I found. This wasn't just one or two choral pieces he wrote. He wrote a lot of music for choir. We're programming a whole concert of it, but there's probably a whole 'nother concert of Brubeck material that we didn't do, that we could. And then on top of that, he wrote a few Masses and music like that as well.”

Swing dancer Don McIntosh and his partner dance on the Wellington Street sidewalk to the music of the Sandra Clarke Duo. ©Brett Delmage, 2010
Swing dancer Don McIntosh and his partner dance on the Wellington Street sidewalk to the music of the Sandra Clarke Duo. ©Brett Delmage, 2010
The Sandra Clarke Duo (Sandra Clarke - vocals, and Howard Tweddle - piano) was one of several jazz groups performing live music on Saturday, as part of Culture Days. They played a wide variety of standards, from the melon-cholic to music with a swinging beet. The duo was hosted by Herb & Spice Shop owner and Capital Vox vocalist Mike Steinberg. Steinberg, who has played recorded jazz in his store for years, informed us that there might be more live music in the store's future. 

Vocalist Sandra Clarke sings outside the Herb & Spice Shop in the West Wellington arts district, as part of Culture Days 2010. ©Brett Delmage, 2010
Vocalist Sandra Clarke sings outside the Herb & Spice Shop in the West Wellington arts district, as part of Culture Days 2010. ©Brett Delmage, 2010
Culture Day jazz performances continue on Sunday, with Amy Kourouma and Friends at the Nepean Sportsplex and pianist Yves Laroche and the teachers at the Bells Corners Academy of Music.


The Tulip Festival starts this weekend (until May 24). Its theme this year is the 65th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland. Fitting in with that theme are a number of big band concerts.

The Liberation Swing Band (including 12 musicians and 4 singers) will be playing in the Festival Mirror Tent on

  • Friday, May 14 - 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 16 - 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 20 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 21 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 22 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 23 - 2 p.m.
  • Monday, May 24 - 12:30 p.m.

For the four evening performances (May 14, 20, 21, 22), the band will be followed by The Jivewires.

As well, a number of local school and community bands will be playing free concerts during the day, including the WCSS Concert/ Jazz Band (May 13 - 11 a.m.) and Thomas A. Stewart Jazz Band (May 19 - 1 p.m.).

There will also be a Liberation Street Party Friday, May 7 (4:30 to 10 p.m.). on the Sparks Street Mall to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the spontaneous street party on Sparks Street on May 7, 1945. The festival has yet to get back to us about which bands will be playing there

UPDATE (June 14): The time has changed to noon; the festival had problems finding a location for this concert for that evening.

The new Music and Beyond Festival in early July will be almost exclusively classical music, but one jazz name does stick out in the listings.

Local jazz guitar master Roddy Ellias will be presenting his own compositions at a concert dedicated to Ottawa composers on Friday, July 9 at noon. Six composers will have their works played at the concert.

Ellias told Ottawa Jazz Scene that the concert will include four of his pieces, part of a larger chamber music work that he is preparing to record in December. With him will be soprano Donna Brown, harpist Jennifer Swartz, and percussionist Ken Simpson on marimba.

He said jazz audiences may recognize some of the music, though it will be performed from a classical rather than a jazz angle. "You write something, you get a lot of mileage out of it."

The only other jazz-related concert will be Tango Boréal, performing the music of Astor Piazzolla, Gardel, and member Denis Plante. They will be performing Monday, July 12 at 11 p.m.

More information on the festival is at http://www.musicandbeyond.ca/

   – Alayne McGregor