These articles showcase photographs, by OttawaJazzScene.ca's Brett Delmage, of Ottawa-Gatineau jazz musicians and jazz performances.
Every Christmas, Ottawa jazz fans get an extra gift. Ex-pats who've been away studying or performing and developing as musicians in Toronto, Montreal, or the U.S. return to see family, and share their new skills and techniques in jams or their own local shows.
On Thursday, December 17, listeners at the long-running weekly jam at the Options Jazz Lounge at the Brookstreet Hotel received an extra gift of liveliness from several ex-pats. Saxophonists Claire Devlin and Chris Maskell were in from Montreal, and pianist Deniz Lim-Sersan from Toronto.
Joining the host band the HML Trio (Alex Moxon, J.P. Lapensée, and Jamie Holmes), and a good selection of Ottawa-area players, they contributed to several hours of mostly upbeat jazz standards that kept the room swinging.
Devlin and Maskell teamed up on “Tenor Madness”, pushing each other to greater heights, with Lim-Sersan adding bright piano underneath. That song and similar standards inspired a few listeners to get up and dance in the aisles, while Brookstreet owner Sir Terence Matthews cleared extra space in front of the stage for them to dance.
There was a steady stream of musicians on and off the bandstand, playing everything from drums to trumpet to accordion to vocals.
Tonight (Sunday, October 25), the Rake-Star Arkestra will fill the Ra(w) Sugar Café with layers of intense sound, cool experimentation, and jaw-droppingly-inventive hats. Rake-star is an Ottawa collective of nine adventuresome musicians and improvisers who gather periodically to plumb the songbook of the great Sun Ra – and substantially improvise on Ra's material,
OttawaJazzScene.ca was at the Arkestra's show at the now-closed Mugshots bar on February 28, to bring you a visual feel of their show.
See related OttawaJazzScene.ca stories:
There's a physical excitement and vibrancy to Afro-Cuban jazz that transcends cultural and language barriers.
You can see that when Cuban pianist Miguel de Armas and his Latin Jazz Quartet perform, and even more in the full scale Afro-Cuban celebration that he's hosting at Shenkman Arts Centre on Saturday - which includes dancers.
OttawaJazzScene.ca was at the quartet's regular monthly show at Brookstreet's Options Jazz Lounge this month, when they were joined by several of the guest musicians – Caridad Cruz on vocals, Roberto Jerez on violin, Alejandro Vega on guitar – who will also perform at Saturday's celebration at Shenkman Arts Centre.
Each Sunday afternoon in March, drummer Mike Essoudry and organist Don Cummings have brought their Bumpin' Binary duo to the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern in Hintonburg.
When OttawaJazzScene.ca walked over to see them on March 14, the room was almost full with a crowd clearly listening to the infectious mixture of jazz and R&B. Another attraction – particularly for the younger crowd and those more technologically inclined – was the intricate wiring on the back of Cummings' Hammond organ, which was facing the crowd.
The duo's last show is this Sunday, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., with special guest Tony Diteodoro on guitar, The Elmdale will continue late afternoon shows on Sundays this spring, with different groups each being showcased for a month. Subscribe to OttawaJazzScene.ca's weekly newsletter to get advance details about jazz-related shows.
– Alayne McGregor
Photo: March 29 is the final day to hear organist Don Cummings and drummer Mike Essoudry's Bumpin' Binary duo at the Elmdale Oyster House and Tavern ©2015 Brett Delmage
Ottawa's Rake-star Arkestra brought the musical energy and extra-terrestrial feeling of Sun Ra to the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) concert on January 15. The seven musicians that comprised the arkestra that evening delivered a highly improvised set that had the audience smiling and frequently laughing with them at their fresh musical creations. The concert included a Sun Ra composition, Moog synthesizer, and an essential, but quieter, set of hats.
They're making a second orbit tonight at Mugshots (8:30 p.m. 75 Nicholas Street - the old jail hostel). Their full planetary system will include John Sobol (baritone sax, tenor sax), Jamie Gullikson (drum set, percussion), and Don Cumming's full size Hammond organ. Come prepared for "a spirited, raucous and occasionally beautiful time."
– Brett Delmage
OttawaJazzScene.ca is 5 years old on July 3! We're celebrating this milestone with a special photographic print exhibition of the Ottawa-Gatineau and Canadian jazz scene.
Originating in my work as OttawaJazzScene.ca's photojournalist, Jazz Scene: Jazz Heard! speaks about the connections between listeners and musicians, photographed over the past decade.
The exhibit includes images made in many different locations, outside and inside, in small cafés and giant halls, mid-day and late at night, at festivals and one-time concerts.
There's something special about making an archival-quality, fine art photographic print to hang on a wall. As the famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams stated, “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”
Making my digital image is an essential first step in the public performance of my art, but it's only the beginning. The printing process provides opportunity to shape my digital score by cropping, and tonal and chromatic adjustments in subtle ways, and to select a paper that supports the image.
Ottawa musical improviser, visual artist, found sound artist, and Juno award-winning jazz musician Jesse Stewart launched Winterlude last Friday with its first live performance, "Memories of Ice".
Recorded fragments from ice instruments he built and played at Winterlude in 2011 were combined with live performance on an icy-looking drumset, and his new, electronic instrument that was front-and-centre: the "Reactable". The projection from his manipulation of the Reactable and sound from the performance kept the attentive Confederation Park audience pretty well frozen during the twenty-minute performance, despite the relatively balmy temperature of -9C.
You can catch versions of this improvised performance again at 8 p.m. (20h) this Friday and Saturday (February 7, 8) and again next weekend on February 14, 15 at the Winterlude Confederation Park Stage. It's in the same location as the summer Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage. All performances are free as part of the Winterlude Festival.
Jesse Stewart has some notable (and warmer!) concerts coming up in the next while too. On February 28 he will perform with Jane Bunnett, Roddy Ellias, and John Geggie at GigSpace. On March 14, he will perform as part of the Sonoluminescence Trio with William Parker and David Mott, also at GigSpace.
– Brett Delmage
Full disclosure: Jesse Stewart has licensed photos and videos produced independently by OttawaJazzScene.ca for our own editorial needs.
Swirling lines, frenetic melodies, bright rhythms: all those were part of the very different sound of Linsey Wellman's Wedding and Funeral Trio at Le Petit Chicago on December 30.
Wellman – together with drummer Mike Essoudry and bassist Joe Hincke – has melded the folk melodies and styles of the Balkans with the klezmer/free jazz style of John Zorn's Masada to create fast-paced and energetic music. The nearest comparison? In Ottawa it would be the Mash Potato Mashers – which Essoudry leads and Wellman plays in – although that is more marching band music.
Combined with the group's original compositions (with titles like “The Trickle Down Doesn't Get Very Far” and “Below the Poverty Line”), it was an intense set list that kept the crowd at the Gatineau bar primarily listening and applauding appreciatively.
Essoudry changed his drum kit for the set, replacing his regular snare and tom with higher-pitched versions, substituting a greater number of smaller cymbals for normal large ones, and adding a tambourine on top of his hi-hat – all of which created a sound quite different from his usual jazz style. Wellman on alto sax and Hincke on bass also reflected very different Balkan rhythms in their playing.
The Trio played for more than 90 minutes, and then shifted back to mainstream jazz mode for the rest of the evening. Essoudry switched to jazz kit, and they invited up a series of guitarists (including Steve Bilodeau, on holiday from his studies at the New England Conservatory). The repertoire moved to numbers like “Cherokee” and “Stella by Starlight”, providing a quieter end to the night.
The Wedding and Funeral Trio will perform at the Manx this Sunday, and two Wednesdays at the Avant-Garde Bar in January (where they debuted in December). Wellman, who sounded excited about the project, said he was planning further shows this year.
– Alayne McGregor
It was thirteen years lucky on December 19, as vocalist Gaby Warren again led his group to host the annual pre-Christmas JazzWorks jam at the Carleton Tavern.
It's a tradition for Warren to bring his favourite local jazz musicians – Rob Frayne on Nord organ, Linsey Wellman on alto sax, Alrick Huebener on bass, Mike Essoudry on drums – together at the December jam to play his favourite jazz classics. This year, they were joined by guitarist Garry Elliott, and were dubbed (the ever-changing group name is another tradition) “Ana's Santas”. That was in honour of Warren's wife, Ana, who celebrated a very significant birthday the day before.
The repertoire was more jazz than Christmas, starting with John Coltrane's “Equinox”, continuing through “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” from the little-known musical The Nervous Set; and ending with “Bacchanal” by Kenny Barron.
This year, Warren released his first CD as leader, and included two songs in this set-list for which he wrote the lyrics: Sam Rivers' “Beatrice”, and Miles Davis' “Nardis”. The latter was recorded but eventually had to be left off the album because he couldn't get permission from Davis' estate.
But the music did turn Christmas-y for one song: “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, for which Warren put on a knitted hat which was an amazing example of Christmas kitsch. It had not only a red Santa hat, but also a 3D snowman section with black eyes and carrot nose, and long earflaps ending in small Christmas balls!
Wellman and Elliott in particular had a chance to shine with several melodic and vehement solos, but all the musicians added to the fine post-bop collaboration.Warren did occasionally have to ask the audience to tone down its conversations so that the group's musical artistry could be fully heard and appreciated.
Santa sat in with Sax Appeal at the Rideau Centre briefly on Saturday. Jarrod Goldsmith and Sandy Gordon played jazz standards and Christmas tunes to the delight of frantic shoppers and even one aspiring young dancer.
– Brett Delmage
It was a frosty Friday outside, but the Adrian Matte Quartet easily heated up the AlphaSoul Café with instrumental jazz on December 13 – for their second-last show before the café closes.
The medium-sized audience, which included both long-time jazz fans and some newer listeners, was intent and appreciative, as the quartet performed three sets of standards.The musicians, listeners, and staff laughed together and chatted during the breaks, for a comfortable, easy-going ambiance.
The numbers were generally from the 50s and 60s, including Sonny Rollins' “Doxy”, and an extended and bright treatment of “Sunny”. Their quiet and intense version of the bossa nova tune “Corcovado” ended with a vibrating shimmer, as all four musicians played in unison.
It was an evening of swinging and well-modulated music, propelled by Ted Zarras on drums and Mark Fraser on bass, and with Alex Moxon on guitar and Matte on tenor sax providing strong melodic lines separately and together. They ended with “Think of One” by Thelonious Monk, its complicated interactions giving lots of room for all the musicians to shine, and for the audience to get energized for the frigid trip home.
The Adrian Matte Quartet will perform its last jazz evening at the AlphaSoul Cafe on Friday, December 20.
The Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) brought to life more than a century of music in their first concert of the 2013-14 season.
For the December 8 concert, band director Nick Dyson chose a set list which ranged from 1888 to the modern day, comfortably mixing modern composers like Lennie Niehaus with jazz icons like Charlie Parker and Freddie Hubbard.
The two oldest pieces performed by the student big band were “I Ain't Got Nobody”, which dates back to 1915, and “Anitra's Dance” from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, which was originally premiered in 1888.
But the band closed the concert with a very modern piece: “That's How We Roll”, written by Gordon Goodwin for his Big Phat Band and released in 2011.
The concert, which was enthusiastically received by the audience, allowed all the different sections of the band to shine in both upbeat and more measured numbers. Two slower numbers particularly stood out: the blues-tinged “A Minor Affair” by Sammy Nestico, and “Lil' Darlin'”, made famous by the Count Basie band, with its languorous tempo. Dyson described it as the hardest piece in the big band repertoire to play because it is so deliberately slow.
The concert was held in the Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University, where the orchestra and audience were treated to the highly supportive lighting and sound provided by the theatre's enthusiastic, professional technical crew. Carleton University's music department supports CYJO by providing space for CYJO's rehearsals and performances.
More than half of CYJO's 17 student musicians are new this year, as many former members moved to study music in other cities. However, one new member, Myles Pelley, is a tuba player – a first for the band.
CYJO draws its members from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, and several local high schools. Its next concert will be held in February: the exact date and program have yet to be announced.
– Alayne McGregor
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The Ottawa jazz scene showed its diversity and enthusiasm on the weekend, as two very different shows – one touring, one local – both filled GigSpace to the door.
On Friday night, Brooklyn (and ex-Toronto) vocalist Melissa Stylianou brought her quartet to Ottawa as part of a three-city mini-tour of Ontario. It was an intimate show of jazz standards, originals, and a few “left-field choices” which connected well with her audience. The overall sound was stunning.
On Saturday, Ottawa master guitarist Roddy Ellias introduced his updated trio, with Thom Gossage on drums joining Adrian Vedady on double bass. They played an uninterrupted 105-minute set which included the material which they will be recording in the next two weeks (and even took advance orders for that CD).
Much of the material had been featured at previous trio concerts, but that didn't matter. By the time Ellias had improvised new beginnings to tunes and radically changed arrangements, this was a fresh and fascinating example of guitar trio. Vedady and Ellias played a number of duets demonstrating how their two different tonalities could intersect and compliment each other. Gossage added understated texture in some places, and some surprisingly assertive and unexpected percussion in others which served to highlight the entire trio's music.
There's lots of choice again this week, with the star-studded Bryn Roberts Quartet on Thursday and the Trombone Summit on Saturday at GigSpace. Vocal jazz fans will be torn between the Nylons at Shenkman, and Montreal bossa nova duo bet.e & stef at the Mercury Lounge, both on Thursday. Roberto Lopez brings his highly energetic and original jazz inspired by Afro-Columbia rhythms to downtown Gatineau on Friday (we were very impressed with his concerts in Ottawa and Montreal this summer), and Zola's is broadcasting a concert from New York City featuring noted saxophonist Chris Potter. And there's lots more!
– Alayne McGregor, with files from Brett Delmage
The evening started with the first climax, delivered by Craig Pedersen in a solo trumpet performance. Pedersen then descended into quieter notes: much quieter, sculpted, breathy expressions from his trumpet, which turned up everyone's attention. The limitations of Club SAW became more apparent, as his distinct statement descended below the level of the humming ventilation system for a good blow. And then it was over.
The music couldn't descend from there and it didn't try. After a short break, the main act, Ensemble SuperMusique, took the stage and turned it up again. These key improvisers and composers in Montreal's scene and the two vintage drumsets, a turntable, a wind-up toy, vocal cords, two saxophones, and a trombone, brought a completely complementary sound with a lot of variety to the evening. Jean Derome's "Le Fruit du Hasard" started with rolls of the dice prior to the performance; these inputs to pairs of musicians led them to play from two different compositions while finding ways to piece it all together.
The evening of improvised music featuring Ensemble SuperMusique and trumpeter Craig Pedersen was presented by the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) on Sunday, October 20, 2013 as part of their regular concert series. Ensemble SuperMusique included Danielle Palardy Roger (drums, percussion), Pierre Tanguay (drums, percussion), Jean Derome (sax, toys), Joane Hétu (sax, vocals), Martin Tétreault (turntables), Scott Thomson (trombone).
– Brett Delmage
Fun and games, for both the audience and musicians, best describes Ottawa Jazz Orchestra's "Whose solo is it?" shows.
At past shows, the audience voted on musical topics in inventive ways. The musicians then had only a minute or two to get inspired by that topic, and start playing.
But they pulled in their own toys to tell the story musically: funny hats, weird instruments, and unexpected ways to play their own instruments.
The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra has done this show twice before, in 2009 and 2010. Each show was different musically, but both had lots of fun, unexpected music that was worth hearing.
Eight musicians from the Orchestra will be back at the NAC Fourth Stage on Tuesday, October 8 for their third outing. We can't say what they're going to play, but OttawaJazzScene.ca's photos from their first show might give you some hints!
A gelato café is not the first place you'd check to hear hot jazz – but Stella Luna on Bank Street in Ottawa South has been offering a steadily increasing variety of jazz (and other music) on Sunday evenings. The Ottawa Folklore Centre Jazz Band broke the ice there in 2011, and over the last year more musicians have been showing up to entertain those waiting in line for gelato or sitting enjoying it.
Bassist Marc Decho tried out a new combination at the café on August 25, with guitarist Lucas Haneman and drummer Michel Delage. Despite never having played as a trio before, they easily slipped into a comfortable groove, performing and deconstructing Latin and jazz standards and adding their own improvisations on top. Decho and Haneman clearly had a great time playing off each other, especially when Haneman pulled out his mandolin and they traded fast riffs.
– Alayne McGregor
Singer Caridad Cruz and pianist Miguel Angel de Armas are two Cuban-born musicians who have each considerably enlivened Ottawa's jazz scene in the last few years. Recently they've started performing together occasionally, and their combined energy level gets audiences dancing and clapping.
On a hot, sweaty Monday night in the middle of the July doldrums, they packed the downstairs room at Les Brasseurs du Temps in downtown Gatineau. Their two sets were filled with mostly up-tempo music and a few ballads; Cruz sang eloquently in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, and connected with the audience in a mixture of English and French. De Armas propelled the music; often one song had barely finished before his fingers were dancing into the opening chords of the next.
A group of musicians with broad musical experience got together to play jazz-anchored music among the visual art in the Cube Gallery on Sunday, June 2.
Charley Gordon (trumpet and flugelhorn), Vince Halfhide, (guitar and vocals), Scott Warren (drums) and Ann Downey (bass and vocals) have been playing together for ten years, although sometimes with long gaps between concerts.
Their concert's two sets included music from a broad repertoire: original songs by Gordon, and tunes by Hoagy Carmichael, Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits, and Ottawa folk icon Bill Hawkins. The pieces ranged from slow folk-rock ballads, to blues, to jazz standards. The musicians took time to talk about the songs, sometimes with personal or humorous anecdotes.
Evandro Gracelli had a jam-packed schedule when he visited Ottawa and Montreal for three weeks in late March and early April. What with masterclasses, his own concerts and club gigs, and being invited to sit in at other shows, the Brazilian guitarist was booked or double-booked just about every night.
He brought seven other Brazilian musicians with him, as part of a cultural and musical exchange co-sponsored by the University of São Paulo and Carleton University. Although six returned after the first week, Gracelli and master percussionist Emilio Martins remained.
In the two years he spent in Ottawa, Gracelli developed strong ties in the local jazz community and became an integral part of several local bands. This visit showed the strengths of those ties, as he played in a reunion concert of Sol da Capital with Rachel Beausoleil, with his own Evandro Gracelli and Friends, and in Rimbombante with Dean Pallen, among other gigs.
It isn't often that a CD release concert gets an overture as well.
When Rimbombante's show on April 5 was delayed because of a musician's car breaking down, the group's pianist, Carlos Santana, sat down and played half an hour of sparkling solo piano – impromptu. And that didn't make him any less energetic when the whole band was playing.
The Ottawa-based group – Santana, composer Dean Pallen on saxophone and clarinet, Evandro Gracelli on guitar, Gerg Horvath on bass, Reynier Garcia on congas and percussion, Arien Villegas on drums – represent a wide range of ethnic and musical origins, and their music reflects that as well. It's an amalgam of jazz and world music with a noticeable Latin flavour, a strong percussive base, and memorable melodies.
And lots of energy! Whether in a fast, breezy soprano sax line, a flowing guitar solo, rippling keyboards, dancing conga beats, driving bass, fast Cuban drum rhythms, or vibrant vocals, the music worked at the April 5 show because of the strong interaction among the musicians and the vigour each of them added. The audience greeted that energy with strong applause, particularly at the end, and demanded an encore.
On April 1, 2012, Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) played a hot Latin set in the Library and Archives Canada auditorium under the direction of Nicholas Dyson. That concert was a milestone for CYJO. A substantial number of their founding and most experienced band members played their final concert of their CYJO age-limited term, and several accomplished younger members also left the orchestra after, to attend music schools in other cities.
After this final CYJO concert, the departing rhythm section of Jamie Holmes (percussion), J.P. Lapensée (bass) and Alex Moxon (guitar) went on to other musical initiatives. They recently released their first Chocolate Hot Pockets CD, and started a regular jam session at Brookstreet Hotel. Chris Maskell, a featured soloist in The Move video presented here, is currently studying at McGill.
OttawaJazzScene.ca is pleased to bring you three songs from this concert. Thanks to CYJO and composer Mark Ferguson for allowing us to share their music.
Following their well-received March 2013 performance of Count Basie's music, CYJO will present their next concert on April 14 in the highly comfortable and acoustically supportive Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University. Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra will be joined by the McGill Jazz Orchestra. Watch OttawaJazzScene.ca for interviews and excerpts from their recent Count Basie concert prior to their next show.
Watch the videos including The Move, Mermaid Beach, and The First Circle
– Brett Delmage
Florquestra Brasil received an enthusiastic full house at Cabaret La Basoche in Aylmer on January 30. The event: the launch of their first album, Flortografia. The hour-long concert produced an immediate standing ovation at the end, and another after the encore.
The music was a mixture – Georges Brassens, Leonard Cohen, Brazilian jazz standards, and originals – sung in mostly French, but with some Portuguese and English too. It was all served with a cabaret sensibility and with strong Brazilian rhythms underneath, for a unified and highly infectious whole.
Léonard Constant (guitar, vocals), Regina Teixeira (percussion, vocals), Silvio Módolo (accordion, guitar, cavaquinho, keyboards, and more), and Angel Araos (drums, percussion) were joined by further musical friends. most of whom had also played on the album: Fernando Acosta (percussion), Jasmin Lalande (saxes), Paul Doyle (trumpet and flugelhorn), Ken Kanwisher (bass), and Gabriel Estrela Pinto (percussion). In particular it was their skillful use of Brazilian instruments: the berimbau, agogô, cavaquinho, tamborim, caxixi, surdo, pandeiro, viola caipira, zabumba, and more, which really added the extra flair to their music.
Vancouver guitarist Bill Coon dropped into Ottawa this weekend, teaming up with Ottawa guitarist Tim Bedner for an end-of-the-year jazz brunch at ZenKitchen. A record crowd – Zen tweeted they served more than 75 people – came to listen to the duo play and extend jazz standards, while enjoying the vegan taste sensations.
It was a true duet: Coon and Bedner easily switched leads and picked up each others' cues, moving in and out of the melodies. And the audience was clearly listening, with little conversation disrupting the music.
ZenKitchen started offering occasional jazz brunches last July; this was the fifth in their series.
Overcoming jams (of the traffic kind) on highway 401, drummer Jesse Stewart made sure he returned from Toronto in time to play with Toronto alto saxophonist John Oswald and trombonist Scott Thomson at IMOO on Sunday, December 30, because, as he told the audience, it was a show he did not want to miss.
While Oswald and Thomson have a regular duo, this was the first time all three had played together. But, as musicians long accustomed to improvisation, they easily fell into sync, playing two sets of free improv in which each of the instruments provided both the rhythm and the melody, and nothing was predictable. When Thomson played sweeping bass notes on his trombone, Oswald countered with punctuated high notes. Thompson produced a range of sounds from the light and breathy to conjuring up a full winter snowstorm. Stewart used his sticks in unexpected ways: dropping them together onto an upside down tom or the floor, and banging their ends into drums. Both Thomson and Stewart dismantled their instruments in various ways in order to produce new sounds. Stewart's percussive playing of his upside-down floor tom's legs against the floor led to the first time we've felt an IMOO performance through our feet. All three played a full dynamic range in their music, taking advantage of the near-silent venue and snow-muffled street outside to play to the possibly softest level heard in an IMOO concert. It was a concert which explored musical edges yet was still approachable.
Ottawa percussionist, visual artist, jazz musician and Juno award winner Jesse Stewart drew an eager and curious audience into his D.O.M.E (Dynamics of Musical Exploration) outside Arts Court on Thursday evening. Listeners were treated to a forty-minute solo percussion and waterphone concert with laser beams visually modulated by his clear drumset, cymbals, and waterphone and projected onto the walls of the dome. It was an acoustically and visually immersive experience – although perhaps not as immersive as when Stewart played this drumset just above the water of the Plant Bath pool last year, with some listeners enjoying the concert in the pool's water.
The concert was part of the Electric Fields and Mini-Maker Faire festival which continues until Sunday, presenting new ideas and new artworks. On Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Arts Court Theatre, Stewart will participate in the panel discussion "How does space shape sound?"
– Brett Delmage
Tonight will be one of your very last opportunities to hear pianist Nick Maclean in Ottawa for a while. Maclean is heading back shortly to Toronto for his last year at Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts.
He'll play with his new group, Notes in Triplicate, which includes Ottawa musicians Nathan Corr and Rick Pearlman. at Pressed. Last Saturday, the group gave a one-song preview of tonight's music, playing one of Nick's songs at the afternoon jazz jam at Pressed.
Carleton University Jazz Camp
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Kailash Mital Theatre
The first evening concert at the Carleton University Jazz Camp attracted an unexpected fan.
Shortly after Elise Letourneau played her first few phrases on flute, something flashed by over the heads of the audience. And swooped, and turned, and jetted repeatedly around the upper reaches of the stage and the hall – thoroughly puzzling and then amusing the audience, who really weren't sure what it was or where it was going.
It turned out to be a bat, which had entered sometime earlier through an open door and may have been woken by the flute ultrasonics – and unfortunately it wasn't really keeping time to the music. But Letourneau and guitarist Tim Bedner continued on with aplomb, playing three vocal standards in a non-standard way, adding frequent fluid flute interludes to the first, and giving the last two an absorbing up-tempo interpretation marked by fluent scatting.
Ticketless, the bat was eventually escorted out, and, for the remainder of the evening, the audience could concentrate on the stage.
The IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) series was home to highly approachable soundscapes on Sunday, August 5, in a series of solo and then a duo performances by trumpeters Craig Pedersen (Ottawa) and Ellwood Epps (Montreal).
Long, swirling passages, soothing yet intense, predominated, although there was also more punctuated and up-tempo material – but more on the harmonic rather than the atonal side. Pedersen noted later that the long held tones which he had performed for Chamber Elements twice that weekend may have had a subconscious effect.
In the Question and Answer session at the end, the musicians and audience had engaging discussion about circular breathing and split-tone multiphonics – continuing the recent IMOO tradition of explanations to make the music more accessible.
– Alayne McGregor
Jazz is movement. Watching a group on stage, you'll often see the performers swaying to the music, nodding their heads, tapping their fingers, interpreting the music physically, even when not playing their instrument.
Susanna Hood took it to the next step as she interpreted music through dance at a performance on June 10 in the IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) series at the Umi Café, as well as providing vocals. She performed with trombonist Scott Thomson, and (for the second set) Ottawa drummer and percussionist Jesse Stewart.
In the first set, Thomson and Hood performed a suite of Thomson's songs based on poems by P.K. Page. In the second set, all three improvised.
Hood is an award-winning choreographer and dance artist, as well as an improvising and interpretive vocalist. She and Thomson both play in The Rent (with Nick Fraser, Kyle Brenders, and Wes Neal), originally a Steve Lacy repertory project but now dedicated to playing Thomson’s songs too. They also play together in Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra.
– Alayne McGregor
Montreal trumpeter Rachel Therrien and Ottawa vocalist and IMOO co-coordinator Renée Yoxon first met and played together at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music this spring.
So when Therrien was invited to bring her quintet to the Festival de Jazz Desjardins in Aylmer this Saturday, it was natural for her to stay over an extra day and play at IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais) – but in a very different, free jazz style from Saturday.
The IMOO performance also featured bassist Marino Vazquez, who was visiting from Mexico and had just recently met Therrien in Montreal. Besides bass, he sang and played percussion and the traditional small Mexican guitar.
The first set started with a completely improvised piece featuring Therrien on trumpet and Vazquez on percussion (including crumpled newspaper and flipped notebook). It was followed by a free jazz piece ("The Seven Movements of a Day's Journey") which Therrien had composed eight years but had never played publicly, which used muted trumpet to produce sounds that ranged from breathy to klaxon, with added vocalese.
Renée Yoxon joined in for the second set, for her very first totally improvised jazz performance. In the first piece, while Yoxon sang improvised wordless vocalese, Therrien sang through her trumpet mute. They ended with a piece which Therrien had composed at Banff: "A Mountain", with a graphic rather than a traditional score. At Banff, it was played by 13 musicians, including four vocalists but no trumpet: here it was interpreted on voice, trumpet, percussion, and bass.
At the end, the musicians continued a new IMOO tradition: a short question and answer session where they explained their backgrounds, the graphic score they used, and some of the pieces they had performed.
Therrien was nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award at this year's Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, and her quintet played an evening concert on one of the festival's main outdoor stages.
– Alayne McGregor
A full and attentive house at the Shanghai Restaurant on Friday, June 15, heard Peter Liu and Floyd Hutchinson present their first formal performance as a duo. Backed by a trio of experienced Ottawa jazz musicians who not only knew but clearly loved the music, the two vocalists alternated songs, as well as performing two duets in each of the three sets.
The singers may have described "Summertime" as a chestnut, but they gave it a modern, rhythmic rendition, almost talking the lyrics in some places. Also notable were their bluesy rendition of their closing duet, "'Round Midnight", Liu's swinging "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and Hutchinson's heartfelt "Come Love". Tom Denison's melodic bass solos, Art Lawless's sparkling and sensitive piano, and Glenn Robb's careful touch on drums accented the music.
And at the end, Hutchinson announced "Boys Night Out - accomplished!" and Liu added, "We graduated!"
– Alayne McGregor
It was a packed and pleased house Sunday night, as Glebop welcomed four new players to its monthly gig at the Arrow and Loon. The basic sound was swinging standards, but with a strong Latin vibe added by pianist Miguel Angel de Armas (a recent addition to the local jazz scene but with a long, stellar career in Cuba), and Cuban drummer/percussionist Arien Villegas.
While bassist Howard Tweddle has been part of the scene for decades, the remaining two musicians - singer Natasha Shannon and saxophonist Adam Gillespie - have not been heard much in Ottawa yet. But Shannon said the quintet would be back playing together later this year.
– Alayne McGregor
Improvising violinist James Annett returned to Ottawa from Montreal on April 15 to treat keen IMOO listeners to improvised viola.
He was joined by IMOO regulars and co-founders Craig Pedersen on trumpet and piccolo trumpet and Linsey Wellman on alto sax and flute, plus percussionist Jamie Gullikson. All three were inspired by Annett to try some acoustic tricks of their own, as well as complementing the viola. Gullikson included some interestingly-modified cymbals in his drumset with produced some unexpected sounds.
The quartet took the audience on a two-set musical journey that encompassed an exceptionally large dynamic range, pairings of different players, and improvisations that ranged from dissonant to harmonious. The pieces had beautiful beginnings and endings that sometimes surprised not only the listeners but also the players.
– Brett Delmage
At the 2011 Winterlude opening ceremonies at the Museum of Civilization, Jesse Stewart presented a musical piece inspired by the principles of "yin and yang" in Chinese philosophy. The resulting piece, "Dynergetics," was performed by Stewart and percussionist Johannes Welsch at -20C. The 11-minute performance featured gongs, ice marimbas, pyrophones, glass flute and two ice-like drum sets.
It was a question of names – and numbers – when the Titanium Trio played in Ottawa on Sunday, January 22.
Toronto trumpeter Lina Allemano had composed all the material for the group – which also includes drummer Nick Fraser (originally from Ottawa) and bassist Rob Clutton – in one celebratory gulp last spring, but she hadn't originally given the pieces any individual names. For a while, she was referring to them as #1 to #10 (the equivalent of a classical composer having concertos 1 to 10), although she eventually named about half.
But for most of this show, the titles didn't give the audience much of a hint of what to expect. The first set, for example, consisted of #2, #4, #7 (aka Bagpipe), and #3.
What the audience actually heard was a tight collaboration among all three players. There was a considerable dynamic range: Clutton's Fender electric bass provided a warm, strong underlayer, from he which he regularly emerged with intricate but understated rhythmic patterns.
Allemano and Fraser provided a constantly varying and interesting dialogue on top. Fraser's drumming moved from the lightest touches with brushes on cymbals, to staccato and fierce. Allemano's trumpet curlicued, called out, moved from intense fast riffs to slow, full lines, and even echoed a Mingus piece at one point.
The overall mood was introspective and almost elegiac, but each piece included a large portion of improvisation and innovation. The musicians occasionally even surprised themselves when they came to a somewhat unexpectedly fast ending on a couple pieces, or restarted in another direction.
At several points, Allemano used a 1930s-style bucket mute to achieve a particularly sonorous, warm sound unlike that created by a regular mute. And then she went one step further near the end, using a soft drink can (filled with small rattling pieces) as a mute to create an interestingly breathy sound.
The audience appear to follow along smoothly with the musicians, listening intently to the music, and responding with warm applause at the end. The concert was part of the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO) series, and attracted some Ottawa jazz fans who had not attended IMOO concerts before.
– Alayne McGregor
The SSS Trio (Sean Duhaime - guitar, Sacha Contant-Nagy - drums, Stefan Ferraro - electric bass) are hosting Wednesday Jazz nights this month at Café Nostalgica. On January 11, 2012, the trio was joined by saxophonist Daniel Ko, on his Christmas break from Berklee. The hard-working group filled the evening with with music ranging from jazz standards to Beatles, and a few of Sean's originals. Mid-evening, the In-young Choung Trio played a short set, to give the group a well-deserved break. In-young and Renée Yoxon both joined in on vocals with the SSS Trio as well.
You can catch the SSS Trio on Wednesday nights in January. View our event listing
It was a competition for the most unusual "musical" sound at IMOO on December 4, as a quartet of Ottawa improvising musicians and regular IMOO performers took the stage. Listeners who closed their eyes to focus only on the sounds of this show would surely have been challenged to understand what they were hearing.
Linsey Wellman played percussion with his music stand and metal water bottle, but mostly he stuck to alto sax and bass clarinet, having fun getting unusual sounds, including perhaps the appropriate Mooing of a cow, out of those, more conventional, instruments. Following Linsey's moove, one could imagine a farm coming to life in the following minutes.
Double bassist Philippe Charbonneau was a serious contender with his wire clothes hanger vibrating and being used to bow his bass strings.
Trumpeter Craig Pedersen upped the ante when he borrowed Charbonneau's bow and used it to coax notes out of the bell of his trumpet and flugelhorn. He got even more points for borrowing one of drummer Scott Warren's brushes, and using them to brush his trumpet, then mooving over to the side of Charbonneau's bass.
But the winner had to be Warren himself, when he brought out a roll of packing tape and did his best to control the crackling, squealing sounds coming out of what everyone (including himself) agreed was by far the least controllable instrument in the room. But definitely the one that riveted everyone's eyes and which he had the most fun with.
Evandro Gracelli returns to his native Brazil this week, after two years of generously sharing Brazilian music, his fine guitar playing and singing, and his friendly manner with Ottawa-Gatineau audiences and musicians. Thursday, December 1 will be your last chance to hear him perform with his group and other musicians who play South American music. View our event listing
We thank Evandro for being part of the scene and warmly welcoming OttawaJazzScene.ca at his musical events during his stay in Ottawa.
Read unfolding.ca's interview with Evandro
View photos of Evandro with Roda da Samba on October 22.
View photos of Sol da Capital's February 10, 2011 performance at Mercury Lounge
A large and diverse crowd, ranging from toddlers to grandparents, clapped and even occasionally sang along to the Beatles, as the Capital Vox Jazz Choir showed how many different ways the band's classic songs could be arranged for choir, brass, jazz band, strings, and singers.
Fitting in with how old John, Paul, George and Ringo were when they actually wrote the music, young musicians had a prominent role in the well-attended November 19 concert at Dominion Chalmers United Church. The Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra provided the horns and brass, including marching through the audience playing Yellow Submarine. Four students from Canterbury High School soloed with the choir, and local singer Vanessa Mercier (not much older herself) stepped in at the last moment to sing the fifth solo part.
One fan wasn't even born yet: CBC announcer Amanda Putz, who was the M.C. for the proceedings, noted at one point that her unborn baby was reacting strongly to the music!
Read our interview with Capital Vox choir director Elise Letourneau: Capital Vox stretches the boundaries with jazz and the Beatles
View some photos from the concert and rehearsal
Alto saxophonist Zakari Frantz led Curiosity Killled the Quartet to keep the music alive and the goblins away well past midnight on Halloween night at Le Petit Chicago.
Back home after another highly successful European tour with Souljazz Orchestra, Zakari led a quartet including Mike Essoudry (drums) and two Montrealers increasingly known to Ottawa audiences: Adam Daudrich on keys and Joel Kerr on double bass. The group filled the evening with standards and original compositions by Daudrich. Later, the stage was opened to guests including guitarist Sean Duhaime, veteran drummer Brian Downey and others.
Zak's back with another quartet tonight (apparently curiosity did kill the first one!) that includes Eric Disero on keyboards, Marc Decho on bass, and Mike Essoudry on drums. The music starts at 9:30 p.m. at Le Petit Chicago. – Brett Delmage
|Kevin Breit (l) and Matt Brubeck (r) perform in the Stretch Orchestra's CD Release concert
at the 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival. photos ©Brett Delmage, 2011
The Stretch Orchestra may be the tallest band in Canada, with an average height of 6'5". According to the shortest member of the group, Jesse Stewart (at only 6'3") "it is also one of the most eclectic". The group, with Stewart on waterphone and percussion, Matt Brubeck on very cool carbon fibre cello, and Kevin Breit on a variety of guitars, recently released it's first album of the same name. They routinely traverse a wide gamut of musical styles—from jazz to rock to folk to various world influences, sometimes within a single tune. Their music stretches your ears.
– Brett Delmage
Drummer Robert Fontaine and his quartet (Tom Denison on bass, Rick Rangno on flugelhorn, and Yves Laroche on keyboards) debuted their first CD, The Quiet Fellow, at Les Brasseurs du Temps in Gatineau on October 2, 2011. Their live set, which included a number of songs from the CD, one new original, and some bopping standards, was preceded by a short video showing the group's live recording for the CD.
The Ottawa-side release party for the album will be this Sunday, October 23 at the Nepean Sailing Club.
Read our interview with Robert about the CD.
Listeners looking for the Carleton University Jazz Camp concert, A Tribute to Charlie Parker on Wednesday August 10, were guided not just by one, but by two rainbows. While the pots of gold may have been elsewhere, musical treasures were to be found right under the rainbows, in Kailash Mital Theatre.
Other coverage of the 2011 Carleton University Jazz Camp:
Carleton University Jazz Camp starts on August 7, 50% larger than its inaugural year in 2010. Last year, OttawaJazzScene.ca published an in-depth story about the first year of camp. Today, we're presenting more photos of the first year of camp, by OttawaJazzScene.ca photojournalist and publisher Brett Delmage.
Win free concert tickets! Carleton University Jazz camp has generously donated four pairs of tickets for their evening concerts this week to be won by our weekly newsletter subscribers. Don't forget to enter
Phil Nimmons, the Canadian Dean of Jazz, and Juno award winner David Braid have made some interesting improvised live music together for clarinet and piano in the past five years. From that came their album, Beginnings.
As part of that collaboration, they played an improvised duo concert in the NAC Studio at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on June 22, 2006. Peter Hum interviewed Phil Nimmons before that show. You can view photos from that show from the OttawaJazzScene.ca archives, below.
On Monday August 1 from 10:30 p.m. to midnight you can again hear Nimmons and Braid, this time joined by another clarinetist, Jim Campbell, for a concert of "new jazz and structured improvisation". It should be a cool way to wrap up your long weekend.
Django Libre got listeners out of their seats at the Rendez-Vous Rideau Jazz festival Stage on June 27, with their strongly swinging versions of standards. Their one-hour set, which included All of Me, Django's Tiger, Bie Mir Bist du Shone, Nuages, Oh Lady Be Good, Troublant Bolero, Sweet Georgia Brown and others kept a trio of sharply-dressed swing dancers busy on the 'dance floor'. The audience responded with a standing ovation and a call for an encore – but at the Rendez-Vous Rideau Stage, when your time is up, it's up, and so listeners had to be satisfied by buying all the CDs that the group had brought with them.
The were joined at the Rideau Centre show by Richard Page on clarinet.
There were over 140 concerts at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Some of them were jazz, but none were a classic big band.
What's a big band lover to do? Worry no longer: The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra (previously Impressions in Jazz Orchestra) will perform at the Billings Estate Museum from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday July 7. They will recall the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and the time when Swing was King. Ottawa Jazz Orchestra will play music by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller and they'll be joined by the dynamite Swing Dynamite dancers. The teachers from Swing Dynamite will also present a free swing dance lesson during the concert break.
With a termperature of around 20C and very low risk of rain, it promises to be a great evening.
View photos by Brett Delmage of past IJO shows at Billings Estate Museum
The 2004 Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage performance of Bela Fleck and The Flecktones drew what may have been the largest audience of the jazz festival that year.
On Saturday July 2, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones returns to the Ottawa Jazz Festival's main stage - 7 years later, almost to the hour. Three of the four members who appeared in 2004 will again play this year, in the group's "original line-up":
Howard Levy (piano, harmonica), who will play on Saturday, was replaced by Jeff Coffin on tenor sax in 2004.
OttawaJazzScene.ca photojournalist Brett Delmage photographed the 2004 concert and presents a selection of those photos from our archives.
Local saxophone prodigy
Daniel Ko, together with drummer David Pontello and bassist Ken Kanwisher, will be playing Monday nights at Le Petit Chicago for the rest of June.
It was only a couple of years ago that Ko was escorted out of Le Petit Chicago – even though he had his mother with him and his saxophone, and had hoped to sit in with the band. His crime: he was too young (the bar is 18+).
Ko will be heading to Berklee School of Music in Boston to study jazz this fall, so you might want to hear him soon.
Search Engine will return in July.
– Alayne McGregor
Ottawa avant-garde jazz musician Bernard Stepien has taken a new approach to Thelonious Monk's music: he's left out Monk's own instrument, replacing piano chords with sax, trumpet, and bass and drums.
At the IMOO series on Sunday, June 18, he premiered the result, to enthusiastic response, and even a request for an encore.
The first four songs were well-known numbers including Bemsha Swing and Pannonica, and were performed with verve but also reasonably recognizably.
But then the band moved into less well-known numbers and more free playing. Pieces like Light Blue and Friday the 13th gave considerable room for David Broscoe (alto sax) and Stepien (tenor sax) to improvise within the melody, at times with great intensity. Charley Gordon (trumpet and flugelhorn) added colour and nuance to the mix.
Philippe Charbonneau (double bass) moved naturally into soulful bass solos at several points that felt organic to the music. Scott Warren (drums) again showed his appreciation of dynamics, with drumming that moved from soft brushing to commanding staccato and back again without hesitation.
With the exception of Gordon, the musicians had all played with Stepien on his Albert Ayler/Christmas carols project, which was released on CD in December 2010. One can hope the non-seasonal nature of this music will allow Stepien to continue to develop this project.
– Alayne McGregor