Updated March 20, 2019
Read OttawaJazzScene.ca's full guide to the 2019 Ottawa Jazz Festival
There's a wide range of interesting music at the 2019 Ottawa Jazz Festival. But of those so far announced, you won't go wrong with these:
Friday, June 21: Baritone Madness (Confederation Park Stage)
We don't know the three baritone saxophonists, but have heard and enjoyed Calgary bassist Kodi Hutchinson when he won the Grand Prize at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2013, as well as Vancouver pianist Tyler Hornby. And you can never have too many baris!
Saturday, June 22: The Patricia Barber Trio (NAC Studio)
“Constantly evolving, always intimate art”: that's how Patricia Barber's music has been described.
One reviewer noted that “She darkens, renews and completely takes possession of [songs], probing and questioning the inferences implicit in every word.”
The pianist, vocalist, and songwriter has just released a new album, Higher, her first in six years. It's a collection of originals and standards, including an art song cycle which she debuted with soprano Renée Fleming.
Saturday, June 22: Ranee Lee (Confederation Park Stage)
Ranee Lee is a triple threat as a vocalist, actress, and teacher and role model to generations of Montreal musicians. Her concert a few years ago in Ottawa was generous, expressive, and swinging, and well deserved the two standing ovations from the delighted audience.
Sunday, June 23: The Romance Of Improvisation In Canada - The Genius of Eldon Rathburn (NAC Fourth Stage)
We've heard the CD. It's lyrical, swinging, and powerful, with memorable musical ideas and a powerful execution by five acclaimed Canadian musicians: pianist Marianne Trudel, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, saxophonist Petr Cancura, bassist Adrian Vedady, and drummer Jim Doxas. And it has a strong Ottawa connection: Eldon Rathburn's original music was written here for National Film Board movies, and it's been rearranged for this quintet by local jazz musicians Adrian Matte and Allyson Rogers. .
Tuesday, June 25: Christine Jensen's '=' Jazz Orchestra (NAC Studio)
Christine Jensen speaks through big bands - as a composer and a leader. She has received two JUNOs for her albums with her jazz orchestra, and regularly leads L'Orchestre National de Jazz de Montreal. At this show, she'll debut her latest “=” (equal) Jazz Orchestra, a joint project with Petr Cancura. It will perform music by both female and male Canadian composers - in equal numbers!
Jensen has an eye for talented collaborators, and in this orchestra will lead a collective of Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa musicians (the exact lineup will be announced soon). She promises it will also be diverse, just like the composers. With the degree of talent she can draw on, we're expecting a fine mix of jazz voices.
Wednesday, June 26: Ferguson/Tremblay/Young/Clarke (Main Stage)
Pianist/trombonist Mark Ferguson and saxophonist Mike Tremblay are major figures in Ottawa's jazz scene, and have a long history of playing together. In 2009, they released their first joint album, Home. Last September, they got together with two acclaimed Toronto jazz musicians - bassist Dave Young and drummer Terry Clarke - to perform two shows at GigSpace and then to record an album of all new original compositions. The album is scheduled to be released this spring.
We've heard all four musicians many times over the years, although not all together: they're highly accomplished musicians with a strong intuitive sense in their ballads and lots of swing. And the music on Home can earworm us still: we're hoping for an equally memorable second album.
Wednesday, June 26: The Brad Mehldau Quintet (Main Stage)
The last time this American pianist performed on the festival's main stage, all you heard was his finely-chosen notes. The audience was completely hushed. This summer, Brad Mehldau has assembled a quintet of acclaimed musicians: trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Joe Sanders, drummer Leon Parker, and saxophonist Joel Frahm, whom Mehldau has known since they were both 15. Expect a more involved sound, but with equally deep intelligence and concentration behind it.
Thursday, June 27: Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science (Main Stage)
Carrington is both an assured and virtuosic drummer and a leader who can bring together different strands of jazz. She's played with everyone from Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder to Stan Getz, Cassandra Wilson, Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock. Social Science [see video] is her follow-on group to her all-female Mosaic Project. It takes a “contemporary/post-modern view on music”, crossing between jazz, indie rock, contemporary classical and R&B, and addresses the “issues of freedom, racism, sexism, fluidity, and multiculturalism”.
Friday, June 28: The Shuffle Demons (Confederation Park Stage)
Because it's the band's 35th anniversary. Because they put the fun back in jazz, while never compromising on quality. And because we love “Spadina Bus”.
Friday, June 28: Omara Portuondo (Main Stage)
You probably heard Portuondo sing her trademark boleros, jazz, and son cubana as part of the Buena Vista Social Club. But she has continued as a major part of the Afro-Cuban sound for decades since, including winning a GRAMMY for her album Gracias in 2008, releasing two albums with pianist Chucho Valdés (1997 and 2011), and recording a song for the soundtrack of the Disney film The Princess and the Frog in 2010. She's now on her "One Last Kiss" Tour: hear her while you can!
March 20: Updated our March 26 pick of Mike Tremblay/ Mark Ferguson/ Dave Young/ Terry Clarke.
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