©Brett Delmage, 2019
Justin Duhaime enjoys singing by one of his guests, Edra Silva Cavada ©Brett Delmage, 2019

Justin Duhaime's Gypsy Muse
Ottawa Jazz Festival
Sunday, June 30, 2019 – 12 noon
OLG Stage, Confederation Park

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Justin Duhaime pulled out all the stops for his Gypsy Muse concert at the Ottawa Jazz Festival – to the delight of his audience. Combining favourite tunes by Django Reinhardt with jazz standards, it was a fast-paced and vibrant show which demonstrated the enduring appeal of gypsy jazz.

Three talented guests – violinist William Lamoureux, clarinetist David Renaud, and vocalist Edra Silva Cavada – joined Duhaime's trio, with him and Nabil Yaghi on guitar and Normand Glaude on double bass. Duhaime had featured each guest separately at different concerts, but never before all three together. They each singly played several songs with the trio, before joining together for a grand finale.

The concert opened with “Viper's Dream”, a tune which Reinhardt recorded in 1937 with violinist Stéphane Grappelli and his Quintette du Hot Club de France. It was a fast and inviting number, with Lamoureux spinning out warm violin lines – very French in style – over swinging guitar and bass, followed by a pointillist guitar melody from Duhaime and an emphatic walking-pace bass solo from Glaude. Both Duhaime and Yaghi were playing gypsy jazz-style guitars with small sound holes, whose crisp and metallic tone rang throughout the tent.

By this point, the show had attracted not only listeners, but also swing dancers – as many as three couples at a time – happily twirling at the side of the tent throughout.

Chick Corea's “Armando's Rhumba”, a more modern piece, easily fit the mood of the show, with Lamoureux's fluid embroidery on violin intensifying its drama and sensuality. In Reinhardt's “Coquette”, he matched pizzicato violin to fast guitar lines, and then created bowed lines which danced over the solid guitar and bass rhythms. Lamoureux had just flown in from Victoria, BC, and was playing with almost no sleep, Duhaime told the crowd: “he should play without sleep more often!”

Guitarist Nabil Yaghi has been Duhaime's consistent partner in Gypsy Muse for more than two years. He contributed an intricate and fluent guitar solo to “Coquette” – I only wish we'd heard him solo more in the concert.

“Nuages” is a Django tune that almost anyone would recognize, and the trio did it justice, both enjoying its unmistakable melody and ornamenting it with delicate guitar tracery and a thoughtful bass solo. Biréli Lagrène is one of Reinhardt's most acclaimed successors; Duhaime dedicated his “Made in France” to renowned American jazz guitarist Vic Juris, and gave it a joyful rendition.

Renaud joined the trio for three tunes starting with “Songe d'Automne”, creating both smooth and trilling clarinet lines which soared over the swift guitar rhythms and also evoked a touch of melancholy. On “Invitation”, another standard which fitted well with the Django repertoire, his clarinet intensely reinterpreted the memorable melody.

“Heavy Artillery” was a tune which Reinhardt wrote immediately after Paris was liberated by the Allies in 1944. Both Renaud's clarinet and Duhaime's and Yaghi's guitars evoked its sunny and infectiously happy vibe.

Chilean jazz vocalist Edra Silva Cavada, who has recently started singing around Ottawa, has a clear, strong voice which she put to good use with an alluring version of Jobim's “Chega de Saudade”, sung in Portuguese and including some vibrant scatting. On the jazz standard “I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)”, she sang the romantic lyrics with delicacy and emotion matched by Duhaime's guitar solo, and scatted slowly and hypnotically.

Each noon-hour show at the jazz festival is supposed to be one hour long, but Duhaime pushed the show to an eagerly-received 75 minutes. All three guests rejoined the trio for the final number, “Caravan”, made famous by Duke Ellington. It opened dramatically with trembling clarinet, vibrating violin, and a sequence of fast descending guitar notes, and featured Silva's husky vocals over increasingly urgent instrumentals before ending in an extended flourish. The audience immediately jumped for an extended standing ovation.

Duhaime was scheduled to travel to France the following day “to learn more about jazz manouche and Django firsthand”. But he will return for several more shows in late July, including a quartet matinée with Lamoureux at Irene's Pub on July 21, and an duo evening show at the Westboro Legion on July 28.

Set List

  1. Viper's Dream [Django Reinhardt]
  2. Armando's Rhumba [Chick Corea]
  3. Coquette [Django Reinhardt]
  4. Nuages [Django Reinhardt]
  5. Made in France [Biréli Lagrène]
  6. Songe d'Automne
  7. Invitation [Bronisław Kaper]
  8. Heavy Artillery (Artillerie Lourde) [Django Reinhardt]
  9. Chega de Saudade (No More Blues) [Antonio Carlos Jobim]
  10. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) [Chris Smith, Sterling Grant, Al Neiburg]
  11. Caravan [Juan Tizol]

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