Eagles/Schroeder/Essoudry©Brett Delmage, 2018
Wayne Eagles, Dave Schroeder, and Mike Essoudry attracted an intent and interested crowd at the Ottawa Jazz Festival's Ontario Stage for their 5 p.m. show of jazz fusion classics and originals. ©Brett Delmage, 2018

Eagles / Schroeder / Essoudry
Ontario Stage, 2018 Ottawa Jazz Festival
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 – 5 p.m.

Normand Glaude Quartet: Toots’ Suite
Ontario Stage, 2018 Ottawa Jazz Festival
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 – 12 noon

Each year, Ottawa-Gatineau jazz groups showcase their latest projects in free shows at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. It's an opportunity for listeners to investigate groups or shows that sold out in smaller venues, or which they might want to hear in local bars and halls in the future.

This year, the festival gave local groups greater visibility – adding late afternoon and evening shows to supplement the regular noon-hour shows, and locating them in a large tent on the Elgin Street side of Confederation Park, better placed to catch the attention of passers-by. [See the full list of local shows at the 2018 festival]

It's a change that came out of necessity – other local stage locations had been canceled in the last few years, and city sewer construction forced a complete shake-up of the festival's outdoor stages this year.

But the result was more listeners and a higher profile for the groups. Every time we went by the 7:30 p.m. shows, every seat was taken and listeners were spilling out of the tent. The noon and 5 p.m. shows we heard were almost full, with more listeners than in previous years.

OttawaJazzScene.ca heard part or all of several local shows, and only wish we could have heard more. Besides the following reviews, we have photos of Anna Ludlow's Celtic fiddle/pipe group on June 25, and a Inside the Scene video report about Antoine Collins' tribute to Nat King Cole.

Back to the Fusion

View photos by Brett Delmage of the Eagles/Schroeder/Essoudry performance

This spring, Ottawa guitarist Wayne Eagles and bassist Dave Schroeder released a live-off-the-floor, three-song EP on cdbaby, together with Boston drummer Lee Fish. All three share a love of guitar-based jazz fusion from the 1970s, with its powerful grooves and inventive performances, by musicians including Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, and Tony Williams.

Eagles and Schroeder have also performed this music with well-known Ottawa drummer Mike Essoudry, including a show at House of TARG in April. The three teamed up again for a late afternoon jazz festival show featuring two of the songs from the EP, several of Eagles' originals, and two classic Miles Davis numbers given an electric boost.

They open with “For AH”, a song Eagles wrote in memory of guitarist Allan Holdsworth (who played on several of Williams' albums) – a rich mix of repeated patterns with a melancholy undertone. They followed that with Williams' “Snake Oil”, which opened with a deep resonant bass riff and developed into a driving ensemble piece. Dave Holland's “Back-Woods Song”, from the first Gateway Trio album, immersed the tent in bass/drums groove (including hand clapping at one point) over which Eagles' fluid guitar lines and harmonics flashed.

I particularly enjoyed Eagles' “La Tin”, a swaying Latin tune which built up with spirited drum solo and rustling cymbals from Essoudry, and his “Organistic”, in which he evoked a church organ sound with a ringing fantasia of guitar notes.

The show's description promised “contemporary standards with an old school fusion vibe” and that was definitely true for the show's last two numbers, both Miles Davis classics. Both were strongly interlaced trio pieces beginning with sparse lines coalescing into the melody: “Nardis” giving the opportunity for each to delve into the rhythms, and “All Blues” featuring inflected guitar/bass duets. Both were extended explorations and extensions of the pieces, and evoked cheers and clapping throughout, and ending in enthusiastic applause.

Set list

  1. For AH (Wayne Eagles)
  2. Snake Oil (Tony Williams)
  3. La Tin (Wayne Eagles)
  4. Back-Woods Song (Dave Holland)
  5. Organistic (Wayne Eagles)
  6. Nardis (Miles Davis)
  7. All Blues (Miles Davis)

A celebration in waltz time

Normand Glaude's musical hero is the late jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans. Over the last seven years, he's been emulating and learning from Thielemans' recordings, as he's added melodic and expressive harmonica playing to his double bass performances. [Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Glaude about his passion for jazz harmonica.]

This spring, he debuted “Toots' Suite” in a sold-out show at GigSpace. It was a celebration of Thielemans' music, with him playing only harmonica. He brought the same show to the jazz festival at noon on July 27, with a skilled local quartet: pianist J.P. Allain, bassist Tom Denison, and drummer Michel Delage.

Throughout, Glaude gave the audience a mini-Toots seminar, explaining the background of each song. As he noted partway through, many of the pieces were in waltz time because “Toots really enjoyed waltzes”. The quartet opened with Thielemans' gentle and minor-key waltz tribute to Sonny Rollins, and also included the sweet “For My Lady” (written for Thielemans' second wife), and the peaceful and conversational “Sno' Peas”.

One of Thielemans' most-played pieces (for over 40 years) only took an hour to record and only paid him $37. But (as Glaude noted) he was happy to have performed on the theme to the iconic children's TV program Sesame Street. The quartet gave the tune a warm, swinging rendition that emphasized its happy vibe, and the audience responded with strong applause.

I particularly enjoyed Jaco Pastorius' “Three Views of a Secret”, which combined slow and evocative harmonica/piano passages with powerful ensemble playing. Thielemans performed on Pastorius' original recording of this tune, and Glaude noted that while it's a beautiful song, it's not often performed because it's “monumental”.

Thielemans released two Brasil Project albums featuring Brazilian jazz composers, and Glaude included two in this show: the bright, dancing “Felicia and Bianca” by Oscar Castro-Neves, and the tender samba “Cê” by Ivan Lins. The quartet's flowing renditions of both were warmly received by the audience.

Glaude told the crowd he had to play “Bluesette”, Thielemans' signature tune and the one he referred to as his “pension fund”. The unmistakable melody was carried by harmonica, bass, and piano – and then Glaude scatted it, simply and with great feeling.

The show closed with “Old Friend”, a song Thielemans wrote for his father. It was an intensely emotional piece: a harmonica lament over subdued piano which resolved slowly and sweetly to its close. The audience immediately gave the quartet an extended standing ovation.

Set List:

  1. Waltz for Sonny (Toots Thielemans)
  2. Felicia and Bianca (Oscar Castro-Neves)
  3. For My Lady (Toots Thielemans)
  4. Theme from Sesame Street (Joe Raposo)
  5. Three Views of a Secret (Jaco Pastorius)
  6. Sno' Peas (Phil Markowitz)
  7. Theme from Midnight Cowboy (John Barry)
  8. Cê (Ivan Lins)
  9. Bluesette (Toots Thielemans)
  10. Old Friend (Toots Thielemans)