Keith Hartshorn-Walton, Richard Page, Craig Kennedy
The Barrhaven Neighbourhood Jazz Series at Anabia Cupcakery Cafe
Friday, November 9, 2018 – 8:30 p.m.
One evening a month, musicians living in Ottawa's southern suburb bring jazz to their own neighbourhood.
Tuba player Keith Hartshorn-Walton only lives a few minutes away from the Anabia Cupcakery Café, a cozy café and bar in a Barrhaven mall, and for the last five months has brought in different combinations of jazz musicians, mostly from this area, to play on a Friday night. There's no cover charge, but the musicians did draw attention to their donation basket several times during the show.
OttawaJazzScene.ca was there for the November show. Outside there was driving rain, wet snow, and soaking-cold slush, but inside it was bright and cheery, with retro-style paintings of women in 1940s styles on the walls. Tables and armchairs were set up around an open area reserved for the performance. Every table was taken in the café, with lots of coffee cups steaming on them, and most of the customers were listening to the music.
The theme that night was Dixieland, with Hartshorn-Walton holding down the low end on tuba, Richard Page on clarinet and tenor sax, and Craig Kennedy on guitar and his vintage Deering banjo. Clarinet, banjo, guitar, and tuba are classic instruments for this early-20th century jazz style, and the tenor sax, while not as standard, fit well in several of the more bluesy numbers.
Dixieland is a very interactive style, with one musician playing the melody while the others improvise around it, and there was a lot of communication within each song. There wasn't a fixed set list for this show – the musicians just took turns calling out numbers: Great American Songbook standards, jazz classics, and even a few hymns. One musician started, others took up the melody and they each had a chance to reinterpret it and play with it.
Most importantly, Dixieland is approachable and fun – and that was the vibe on Friday, even when playing the blues. Page's clarinet trilled jubilantly over resonant tuba and fast strumming banjo in well-known tunes like “Bye Bye Blackbird”; the tenor sax line in “When You're Smiling” swung over rapidly-changed banjo rhythms – and added a bit of bop on its own.
I particularly enjoyed the trio's reflective and emotional version of “What a Wonderful World”, with the slow and lovely melodic solos on clarinet and tuba and the long held notes on guitar evoking the song's melancholy undertones. “Take the 'A' Train” was slowed down to a bluesy New Orleans-style stomp, with Hartshorn-Walton playing vibrating treble tuba lines alternating with growls and thumps. And “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was a swinging number with tuba, banjo, and clarinet all adding to the joyous energy.
“Hello Dolly” – made famous by Carol Channing on Broadway, but even more by Louis Armstrong in jazz – got a fast banjo introduction, and then the tuna and tenor took up the full-bodied melody, New Orleans style. People started clapping in time to the fast, vibrating banjo solo, and strongly applauded as the song ended with a last banjo strum.
The musicians played for a full 90 minutes, ending with a rollicking version of Lester Young's “Lester Leaps In” that elicited strong applause. Almost the customers stayed for the entire show. Anabia quickly cleared out once the music ended, although a few people hung around to chat as the musicians packed up their instruments.
And, as the musicians said laughingly at the close, “we'll all be home in 5 minutes!”
The next Barrhaven Neighbourhood Jazz Series is on Friday, December 14, and will showcase several jazz vocalists.
- All of Me [Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons]
- Bye Bye, Blackbird [Ray Henderson/Mort Dixon]
- When You're Smiling [Larry Shay, Mark Fisher and Joe Goodwin]
- What a Wonderful World [George David Weiss and Bob Thiele]
- Take the 'A' Train [Billy Strayhorn]
- The Girl from Ipanema [Antonio Carlos Jobim]
- Blue Monk [Thelonious Monk]
- Just a Closer Walk with Thee [traditional]
- Battle Hymn of the Republic [traditional, Julia Ward Howe]
- Hello, Dolly [Jerry Herman]
- Lester Leaps In [Lester Young]
Read related stories by OttawaJazzScene.ca:
- Our Jazz pick of the week for July 9 to 15: The Barrhaven Neighbourhood Jazz Series
- Jazz tuba pioneer Howard Johnson honoured in wide-ranging tribute
- Jazz tuba advocate Keith Hartshorn-Walton blows his own horn
- Clark Terry's highs and lows: Keith Hartshorn-Walton excited to present Top and Bottom Brass