Monday night's jazz concert will be a first for Mike Tremblay.

While the Ottawa sax player has had an extensive email correspondence with Toronto sax player Mike Murley, and even passed students along to him, they've never played together.

"He's one of my favourite players for my whole life. We've known about each other for years and years, but never had a chance to meet or play. I figured it was time: just do it."

For the first time this year, the Ottawa Jazz Festival has sponsored a series of afternoon jazz workshops. The first two were held June 26 and July 2, and the last one will occur today (July 3), from a little after 1 p.m. to about 4:30 p.m.

As organizer Petr Cancura explained at the first workshop, these are based on a models used at folk festivals. Musicians -- who may have never played together before -- are plopped onto a stage, given a theme, and invited to produce music fitting that theme. At this festival, the results were always interesting, and mostly excellent.

Each day has three workshops. On the first two days, one workshop was experimental, with musicians trying new mixtures of instruments, time signatures, and tones. The other two were more mainstream, but still offering lots of room for trying new combinations: for example a sousaphone playing against trumpet and sax.

Do the rainclouds hate the Ottawa Jazz Festival?

Another rainy day at the Ottawa Jazz Festival
Another rainy day at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

Just before Michael Kaeshammer stepped on stage for his Canada Day concert, the skies opened for a nasty, pounding - if short - thunderstorm which soaked the park and his audience.

But only 4km to the west, there was no rain at all. It was perfectly dry.

The same phenomenon was reported on Sunday: fierce rain in the park, nothing just a few kilometres westward.

It's not unknown in Ottawa to have very localized bad weather — but it does seem unlucky that Confederation Park should keep getting targeted. Fortunately, jazz festival goers are generally able to endure a bit of rain for some good music. The new OLG Stage and tent, the National Library, the NAC Studio and Fourth Stage have presented excellent music under cover.

Be sure to vote in our poll about how you deal with the rain.