The attentive and uncommonly quiet audience at Café Paradiso Saturday night was having such a hoppin' good time that they demanded an encore – and what they got was a beautiful tune and a story.

It turns out that Ottawa multi-instrumentalist René Gely saw Egberto Gismonti in Paris in 1994, and was haunted afterwards by the unnamed piano piece Gismonti played as his encore. Gely could never find the piece again -- until he asked Brazilian guitar player (and temporary Ottawa resident) Evandro Gracelli for some lesser-known Brazilian music.

One of the pieces Gracelli lent him was the Gismonti piece – except played on harmonica. Gely used that to recreate it on piano, and the trio played it on piano, guitar, and percussion as their encore Saturday. Their rendition was beautiful, graceful, and haunting, and the audience loved it.
– Alayne McGregor

photos © 2010 Brett Delmage
Rene Gely, Evandro Gracelli, and the members of Florquestra Brasil play at Cafe Paradiso March 20, 2010. © 2010 Brett Delmage
René Gely on the melodeon is joined by Evandro Gracelli and members of Florquestra Brasil

Rene Gely, Evandro Gracelli, and Rob Graves play at Cafe Paradiso March 20, 2010. © 2010 Brett Delmage
René Gely, Evandro Gracelli, Rob Graves played to the totally quiet attention of a nearly full stage-side of Café Paradiso
Caroline Gibson ©2010 Brett Delmage
Caroline Gibson

No one else could sound like Blossom Dearie, and the three vocalists who graced the NAC Fourth Stage on Saturday March 20 wisely didn't try. Instead, Karen Oxorn, Caroline Gibson, and Marcie Campbell celebrated Blossom's style and her material, singing together and individually. The songs, ranging from standards to Dave Frishberg satires, were well-received by the almost-full house. The last song featured a surprise: Brian Browne sitting in on piano, as Gibson gave a bravura performance of the risque lyrics in Blossom's Blues.

The singers were supported by a tight rhythm section: musical director Mark Ferguson on piano and trombone, Tim Bedner on guitar, Martin Newman on bass, and Don Johnson on drums.
     – Alayne McGregor

Marcie Campbell ©2010 Brett DelmageMarcie Campbell

Karen Oxorn ©2010 Brett Delmage
Karen Oxorn

photos ©2010 Brett Delmage

Ottawa Jazz Scene editor Alayne McGregor talks to singer Nicole Ratté about her musical path to the release of her first album.

You can hear the excitement and anticipation in Nicole Ratté's voice, right down the telephone wire.

Nicole Ratte CD: When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful (courtesy of Nicole Ratte)
Nicole Ratte CD: When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful (courtesy of Nicole Ratte)
The Ottawa jazz singer will launch her first CD on March 19, at a concert at the NAC Fourth Stage. It's the culmination of two years of planning and work, and close collaboration with several local musicians – and she's proud of it.

But she's come to this milestone by a path particularly her own. A francophone vocalist in a primarily English-speaking genre, a musician who didn't discover jazz until well into adulthood, and an entrepreneur who has opened up new venues to jazz, Ratté hasn't followed the standard jazz career.

Applications are now open for young jazz musicians to take part in the Youth Summit during the 2010 Ottawa International  Jazz Festival. Musicians between the ages of 17 and 22 are eligible to participate in the workshop, under the leadership of Humber College jazz professor Jim Lewis.

It will run during the Festival from June 24 to July 4. The results will be showcased during a special Canada Day presentation on July 1, and again on July 4 on the Festival's Main Stage in Confederation Park.

Deadline for applications is March 30th, 2010.

For more information, see

Ottawa Jazz Scene is now offering free classified ads for our subscribers. To find out what's available, or read instructions for submitting, please visit our classified ads page.

Roddy Ellias plays Cafe Paradiso - photo ©2009 Brett Delmage
Roddy Ellias plays Cafe Paradiso - photo ©2009 Brett Delmage

Roddy Ellias plays a sensitive passage with the Petr Cancura Trio in December 2009. He returns to Café Paradiso on Saturday night in his own series, with Guy Pelletier on flutes.    Photo ©2009 Brett Delmage

Phil Charbonneau (bass) and Linsey Wellman (sax) perform at Cafe Nostalgica, 2010 Feb 3 - photo c2010 Brett Delmage
Phil Charbonneau (bass) and Linsey Wellman (sax) perform at Cafe Nostalgica, 2010 Feb 3 - photo c2010 Brett Delmage

Phil Charbonneau (bass) and Linsey Wellman (sax) perform at Cafe Nostalgica, 2010 February 3, together with drummer Mike Essoudry. The group plays every Wednesday night in February.   detailed listing
photo ©2010 Brett Delmage

OJS editor Alayne McGregor interviewed NYC jazz flute player and composer Jamie Baum about her concert Thursday at Café Paradiso.

Jamie Baum - Photo © Enid Farber 2005
Jamie Baum - Photo © Enid Farber 2005
Jamie Baum's chosen instrument is the flute. Just the flute – well, both the regular C flute and the alto flute – but nothing else professionally. Unlike many jazz musicians, she doesn't double on the sax or the piano, or as a vocalist.  

She composes and she plays the flute.

And that has given the New York City-based musician the time and concentration to become a jazz leader and educator. Baum's last two CDs, Solace (2008) and Moving Forward, Standing Still (2004), were included in "best of the year" lists in Downbeat, All About Jazz, Jazz Times, and Jazziz. She has won awards and grants for composing, and has toured all over the world.

Baum has played Ottawa only once before, in November 2008 at the Avant-Garde Bar. This Thursday, she's at Cafe Paradiso with a quintet: NYC trumpeter Dave Smith, Toronto pianist David Braid, and two local favourites: bassist John Geggie and drummer Nick Fraser. She had previously played with Braid (who was recommended by Smith) in 2008, but this will be her first time playing with Geggie and Fraser. The group (minus Geggie) will also be playing at the Rex in Toronto on Wednesday.

At Paradiso, the quintet will be playing Baum's and Smith's originals and her interpretations of standards. She said the audience should expect modern jazz: primarily compositional but balanced with improvisation.

It's Monday. Mike Essoudry finished his ambitious Octet show at the NAC Fourth Stage on Saturday night, and has now come down with a cold. It's likely one outcome of the stress, and certainly the lack of sleep, associated with bringing a big show together.

But on the phone, the Ottawa drummer, composer, and band-leader enthusiastically describes his next project. "Mash Potato Mashers" will debut one week after his previous show, with an even larger group – nine pieces – and a different sound.

"You first describe it to people and they say 'It's kind of big and it's kind of weird. What's this going to be ?' "

Mike Essoudry - © 2008 Brett Delmage
Mike Essoudry - © 2008 Brett Delmage
The Mike Essoudry Octet is performing at the NAC Fourth Stage on Saturday February 6 at 8 p.m. See our detailed show listing.

Drummer, composer and band leader Mike Essoudry talked with Brett Delmage about the musicians, how he composed the music, and what listeners can expect to hear.

Some highlights from the interview

“Generally the way I write is melodic, not necessarily chordal. The beauty of the Rhodes is that it can cover a lot of ground... particularly the way [Adam Daudrich] plays it. It's got that bell-like sound and it has chord capability, so if I need it, it's there. The sound of a single-line melody can really cut through on a Rhodes, where sometimes on a piano it doesn't. So I can actually have him double lines with horns and not get it lost in the mix of a octet.”

“I like the compositional element of an Octet. .. the range of larger groups... the textural possibilities- that's a big one for me.”

 "Sometimes you might think 'this might be ok'... and you say 'oh wow – that sounds really good.'”

 “Because [as a drummer] I'm not the melody player, I can't put the emotion that I want to put into the melody because I'm not playing it. So sometimes that makes it a little tricky.”

 “It's music that you can really ride on... it's technical to be sure but the overiding thing is that it's listenable for sure... lots of various melodious things.”

Listen to the interview (9 minutes): [MP3]

Updated 2015 March 2: deleted incorrect reference to Ottawa Jazz Happenings