Capital Vox, Ottawa's jazz choir, is stretching its repertoire and challenging its singers with its concert this Saturday.
Choir director Elise Letourneau has included vocal jazz standards by Hoagy Carmichael, Bill Evans, George Gershwin, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, but hasn't stopped at that standard repertoire. She's also translated a well-known jazz instrumental like Dave Brubeck's Take Five into a new vocal context, and given it a funky feel instead of the classic swing. And then she's moved completely outside the jazz comfort zone, rearranging The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin for voices.
"It will be a real mix of styles, especially this time around. We're going to do some straight-ahead, we're going to do some swing, but we're also going to be doing some Latin – and we're doing some rock and pop," she said.
Jozée Devoua and Steve Berndt are expressive local jazz vocalists, who share an enjoyment of jazz and pop tunes, and a dislike for some traditional attitudes to jazz. On Thursday, October 8, they will combine musical forces with four other Ottawa jazz musicians to perform “Extreme Makeover, Music Edition”. The show features well known popular hits from the 70's and 80's rebuilt, reharmonized, and sung in a variety of jazz styles. The jazz police won't be invited.
Jozée invited Steve to work with her on the NAC Fourth Stage show after Steve heard and liked some of the less common songs that she was singing at Café Paradiso earlier this year. They came up with a program based on “what tunes worked and what we liked,” said Steve. “We had a huge list of songs.”
While Steve noted that during the period “Hall and Oates had huge hits, Duran Duran videos were like mini-movies, and Michael Jackson songs were gigantic,” he remained zipper-lipped about the specific pop songs they would give the jazz treatment to.
“I'm not going to tell you what they are now. Part of the fun is for people to come to the show and be suprised by the tunes we are going to play.”
Photo courtesy coryweeds.com
Cory Weeds is involved in all aspects of the Vancouver jazz scene. The saxophonist leads his own groups. He has a weekly jazz radio show on community station CFRO. He runs the Cellar, the city's premiere jazz club, which regularly features both local and imported talent, and encourages musicians to try special events like recreating a Wynton Marsalis album onstage. And he runs Cellar Records, which has put out more than 50 albums featuring both local and imported talent, many of which were recorded live at his club, and which have received good reviews.
Weeds has released two CDs of his own groups: Big Weeds (2008), and Everything's Coming Up Weeds (2009). This latest album reached #6 on the JazzWeek Charts and has got excellent reviews.
The Cory Weeds Quintet will be in Ottawa Monday night, mid-way through a tour including Montreal, Toronto, and New York. He took the same band around British Columbia and Alberta last month.
Ottawa Jazz Scene editor Alayne McGregor asked Mr, Weeds some questions about the concert and his jazz experience, to which he responded by email:
Ottawa guitarist Tim Bedner has never forgotten how much he learned from playing with the masters.
When he was a student at Berklee College close to 20 years ago, he had a duo gig every Monday night at an Italian restaurant. Several world-class Boston jazz musicians, including saxophonist George Garzone and bassist John Lockwood, would regularly drop in and play.
"I can look back now and say that this had to be some of the most important musical instruction and development I've ever received," he said. "I'm still assimilating lessons from them. It's an important part of who I am today."
At the time, he was very nervous and wondered how he could keep up, he said. But "we were open and willing to learn and we took direction."
Now he wants to offer the same experience to student jazz players in Ottawa – as thanks to the musicians "who took the time out to play with a couple of students and to help us."
Starting September 28, and continuing on the last Monday of the month until next April, Tim is offering students the chance to be mentored in live performance by some of Ottawa's best jazz musicians. And jazz fans are welcome to come out to hear the result at Café Paradiso.
A full house enjoys the Los Gringos reunion at Greenfield's Pub ©2009 Brett Delmage
On September 20, Ottawa Latin jazz band Los Gringos reunited for the first time since 2001, to show that hot jazz can be hot stuff on a otherwise quiet suburban Sunday night. Their lively concert concluded with the enthusiastic audience calling for an encore and giving a standing ovation.
Los Gringos founder, co-leader, composer and trombonist Mark Ferguson told Ottawa Jazz Scene that he was "really knocked out by the reception".
The Ottawa Jazz Festival has announced its fall/winter series of jazz concerts:
Concerts 1-4 and 7 will be held at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage. Those concerts are $22 (adult) or $15 (student). Package deals are available: $100 for 5 shows, $80 for 4 shows, $64 for 3 shows. Tickets are available at:
The Festival benefit concert will be at Library and Archives Canada. The Béla Fleck concert will be at Dominion Chalmers Church. Tickets for those shows are $50.
Starting in November, 2011, the National Arts Centre will again present five jazz masterclasses connecting leading jazz faculty at the Manhattan School of Music with music students in Ottawa and New York City. The sessions, in partnership with the Manhattan School of Music, will use broadband videoconference technology to connect teachers and students in real time with high fidelity audio and video.
This is the seventh season of Manhattan on the Rideau. This year's artists will be:
The sessions will be held at the NAC Fourth Stage (Elgin at Queen) from noon to 2 p.m. Admission is free. Seating is limited, and on a first-come, first-serve basis.
A masterclass is a one-on-one lesson in which a master musician teaches a selected student or ensemble under the watchful eyes of fellow students and members of the public. The audience can learn from the master along with the talented student in the spotlight. Each masterclass involves 2 to 3 students in succession followed by questions-and-answers.
Listen to a previous Manhattan masterclass: Theo Bleckmann with local singer Renée Yoxon.
updated 2011.09.09: corrected date to Tue. Dec 6
Saturday, October 3 - 10 p.m.
CBC Radio 2 103.3 FM
The Signal is scheduled to broadcast its recording of The Geggie Project on October 3. It was recorded at the Guelph Jazz Festival on September 11.
Your editors heard the concert live. It was a fine concert, with extensive and sensitive interplay among the musicians, and some great renditions of Geggie originals.
The same group will be playing live in Ottawa Oct. 31 at the NAC Fourth Stage.
Here what one CBC producer quoted on The Signal blog had to say about the concert: "You'll be amazed at the sound, range, and beauty of the music they create together."
John Geggie ©2008 Brett Delmage
This year's Geggie concert series puts John Geggie in an unusual position -- front and centre.
And then on January 30, the Geggie Trio (Geggie, Fraser, and pianist Nancy Walker) will join with saxophonist Donny McCaslin to celebrate their new CD, "Across the Sky". Both projects have been in the works for a while: Geggie said the Trio CD had been recorded about 1 1/2 years ago.Geggie has teamed up with Walker and Fraser as the house band for the Ottawa Jazz Festival jams for the past several years.
John Geggie has released the details of his NAC Fourth Stage concert series.
You can see the details in our Upcoming Shows listings. The dates are September 26, October 31, November 28, January 30, March 6, April 17, and May 15.
You can buy mini-subscriptions to your choice of the remaining Geggie concerts (minimum four for $77). Subscriptions are available at the NAC box office or online at www.nac-cna.ca/subscribe (go to the "NAC Fourth Stage" section and click on "Create a NEW Subscription").
Subscribers also get a discounted price to the Geggie New Year's Eve Show with John Geggie, Tena Palmer, Paul Rainville, Mark Ferguson, and Charles Gay.