video

These are video stories, produced by OttawaJazzScene.ca, about Canadian jazz musicians and jazz performances.

Safe Low Limit fills a pool with sound, not water (video)

Safe Low Limit members prepare for their first pool concert   ©2017 Brett Delmage
Safe Low Limit members prepare for their first pool concert ©2017 Brett Delmage

How do you perform a concert in a swimming pool?

Take one empty swimming pool. (OK, almost empty, but everyone avoided getting wet feet.) Carefully fit in wood risers into the deep end to cover up the remaining ponds of water in there. Add amps, mic stands and mics, cables, music stands, and chairs.

Lift down and assemble the sections of the drum set. Then gingerly carry down (being careful not to slip on the slippery steep slope between the shallow and deep ends) a trombone, a cello, and a tuba.

Smile and chat with your audience, seated 12 feet above you. And perform, letting the low sounds resonate around you and rise up.

Safe Low Limit, Ottawa's bass clef jazz quartet, picked a highly unusual location for their latest show – an empty outdoor swimming pool behind a house in Vanier. (The homeowners were friends of Steve Berndt, the band's leader, trombonist and vocalist, and let him borrow the pool, currently being renovated, for the show.)

With sunny skies and pleasant temperatures which did not require a swimming pool filled with water on Saturday afternoon, it turned out to be the perfect location for a friendly outdoor concert. About three dozen listeners attended the pay-what-you-can house concert and warmly applauded throughout.

OttawaJazzScene.ca was there to share the experience. Watch our video, with interviews with Steve Berndt and Keith Hartshorn-Walton along with an excerpt from the show.

    – Alayne McGregor

Related:

The Courage 4: different instruments, well-loved standards (video)

 

Courage4 in rehearsal: Mike Essoudry, Martine Courage, Rob Frayne, Laura Nerenberg ©2017 Brett Delmage
Courage4 in rehearsal: Mike Essoudry, Martine Courage, Rob Frayne, Laura Nerenberg ©2017 Brett Delmage

The Courage4 plays jazz standards – but not with your typical instrumentation.

Pianist and vocalist Martine Courage leads the group, which also includes Rob Frayne on tenor sax and Fender bass, Mike Essoudry on drums – and Laura Nerenberg on violin. They play their own arrangements in an atmospheric, grooving style: not like your typical jazz quartet.

“It's not a pop band, it's not a jazz band, but it's somewhere in the middle. But it's jazzy in the process,” says Frayne.

Courage met Nerenberg at the JazzWorks jazz camp in 2001, and played with her at local jams, and liked the sound. “The idea of having a unique jazz sound, a unique instrument to jazz, which to me is the violin, was a compelling idea for me, so I thought it would be great to have Laura in on this idea. It definitely worked really nicely.”

Nerenberg grew up listening to her father play jazz standards, but in her own career went strictly to classical. But then it occurred to her that it might be fun to improvise. In the video below, she explains how she got into jazz and “didn't look back”.

Watch the OttawaJazzScene.ca video of the group at their latest rehearsal, with them playing “What is This Thing Called Love?”, and including interviews by Brett Delmage with Courage, Frayne, and Nerenberg.

   – Brett Delmage

The Courage4 will perform at the GigSpace Jazz MicroFest at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. Tickets for their 40-minute show are $10, and can be bought on-line, or in person at Alcorn Music Studios, or by calling 613-729-0693. GigSpace is located within Alcorn Music Studios at 953 Gladstone Avenue, beside the O-Train tracks and one long block west of Preston Avenue. OC Transpo route 14 stops in front, and route 85 stops nearby on Preston Avenue.

Nicholas Adema dedicates a concert to Canadian trombonists (video)

Nicholas Adema with the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra ©2017 Brett Delmage
Nicholas Adema with the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra ©2017 Brett Delmage

The Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra presented their third concert of this season on Sunday, April 2 at Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University. The band’s strong lineup, which included members who have played in CYJO for several years, hit the right notes – and rhythms – on a variety of tough Latin tunes.

A surprise composer stepped forward mid-concert to present his own composition. Nicholas Adema is the orchestra's 17-year-old second trombonist and is also active in Nepean All City Jazz Band (NACJB). He led the orchestra and soloed in his own composition “Samba not so Samba”.

He’s been working on his own very special concert, as a personal high school graduation project and a signficant step in his early professional music career. It’s been a marathon. Adema booked the venue almost one year ago, then started transcribing music last summer, followed by rehearsing and putting a band together.

On Sunday, the Nicholas Adema Quintet will perform “exciting jazz music from famous Canadian trombonists that you probably have never heard before.” Adema will include some of his own compositions as well as those by Ottawa composer and trombonist/pianist Mark Ferguson.

   – Brett Delmage

The Nicholas Adema Quintet (with Nicholas Adema, Mark Ferguson, Alex Bilodeau, Michel Delage, and Kaelin Murphy) will perform at St. Luke's Church, 760 Somerset West (in Chinatown, at Bell Street just west of Bronson Avenue) on Sunday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is pay what you can.

The Stretch Orchestra (video)

©2016 Brett Delmage
©2016 Brett Delmage
The Stretch Orchestra is back in Ottawa on Friday, for two shows at GigSpace Performance Studio that may end up as a live recording.

The group, with Kevin Breit on guitars and mandolin, Jesse Stewart on percussion, and Matt Brubeck on cello, creates music that is energetic, complex, and fun, coming out of their joint background as jazz improvisers but drawing from almost every genre imaginable to create their very individual sound.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's Inside the Scene interviewed all three at their last show in Ottawa at Ontario Scene in 2015. It was very difficult to keep a straight face. And you can see what makes their music uniquely theirs in excerpts from their NAC Fourth Stage performance.

– Brett Delmage

Related: The Stretch Orchestra makes jazz bend [interview with Matt Brubeck]

Three views of jazz at Christmas

Three very different Christmas shows were presented by Ottawa's jazz and improvising musicians this month.

On December 14, Ottawa's Latin big band, Los Gringos, performed their Gringos-style adaptations of holiday favourites, with lots of horns, in their annual Christmas show. On December 16, Ottawa jazz aficionado and vocalist Gaby Warren hosted the JazzWorks Christmas jam for the 16th consecutive year, together with his friends – an accomplished group of Ottawa musicians. And on December 18, radio host, composer, and saxophonist Bernard Stepien and his orchestra presented the 10th annual rendition of A Very Ayler Christmas, a mixture of free jazz and carols, presented by the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa-Outaouais (IMOO).

We recorded one Christmas-themed song from each show, and present the videos below.

Inside the Scene is made possible through the generous support of OttawaJazzScene.ca's donors.

Jazz mashed with Christmas carols (and more!) at the end of December

For earlier in December, see More jazz than Jingle Bells in the second week of December

Even as we get closer to Christmas, there's lots of opportunities to clear your musical palate with jazz.

Gaby Warren presents his annual pre-Christmas JazzWorks jam for the 16th year. ©Brett Delmage, 2013
Gaby Warren presents his annual pre-Christmas JazzWorks jam for the 16th year. ©Brett Delmage, 2013

It's now become a 16-year tradition: Ottawa vocalist and jazz aficionado Gaby Warren hosts the JazzWorks Christmas jazz jam. Warren has an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz – and not just his specialty, Afro-Cuban jazz – and can amaze you by recounting the musicians whom he's heard in person. Each year he brings this experience to picking his song list – mostly jazz classics with just a touch of seasonal music – and then performs them with a group of fine jazz musicians.

His group's 45-minute set starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 16, at the Georgetown Pub in Ottawa South – don't be late! After that, the stage is open for jamming.

On Saturday, December 17, you can celebrate the season with two high-profile concerts. At Live! on Elgin, vocalist Renée Landry pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald's famous 1960 album, Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas, backed by six experienced musicians from Ottawa's younger jazz crowd. At the show, she's also releasing an EP, A Christmas Night, with her music and lyrics, produced by pianist Clayton Connell and with arrangements by Richard Page. The show is currently sold out.Watch for your opportunity to win a copy of this CD from us.

GigSpace, Ottawa's intimate jazz venue, is marking its fifth anniversary with two “Jazzin’ the Holidays” fundraisers on December 17 with Toronto-area vocalist and pianist Micah Barnes. Barnes is best-known for the years he spent singing in The Nylons; more recently, he has recorded a series of critically acclaimed solo jazz recordings. This spring, he released New York Stories, which evokes “the rich musical history of the Big Apple with songs that describe a long distance romance using the rhythms of the Cotton Club, the Brill Building, The Apollo Theatre and classic Broadway”.

More jazz than Jingle Bells in the second week of December

Updated December 12, 2016
No need to feel hemmed in musically in the second week of December! There continues to be lots of jazz choice, with a few Christmas cookies as well.

Bassist Harrison Bankhead plays with David Murray at Mercury Lounge on December 8  ©Brett Delmage, 2013
Bassist Harrison Bankhead plays with David Murray at Mercury Lounge on December 8 ©Brett Delmage, 2013

On Thursday, December 8, you have a rare chance to hear three major jazz voices from Chicago in the All Star Ritual Trio at the Mercury Lounge. Saxophonist David Murray was a hit with audiences at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival with his big band featuring R&B vocalist Macy Gray; he's also a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet and has worked with greats like Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, McCoy Tyner, Max Roach, and Randy Weston.

Percussionist Kahil El’Zabar is an AACM member and the leader of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which played Ottawa annually for years. He's worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Pharoah Sanders, among others. Bassist Harrison Bankhead plays everything from straight-ahead to free jazz; OttawaJazzScene.ca was very impressed with his interpretive ability when we heard him with Nicole Mitchell in 2013. He's played with Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, Hamiet Bluiett, and many more.

Expect a deep understanding of the jazz tradition – and the ability to turn that tradition on its head. Ottawa saxophonist Petr Cancura's trio will play an opening set.

Also on December 8, you can hear four groups whose music ranges from free jazz to experimental music at Daïmôn in Gatineau. The show is called “Électrons Libres”, and it pairs sound artists and instrumentalists together for improvised sets. The show features Ottawa improvisers Instant Places (Laura Kavanaugh and Ian Birse) playing a short set with saxophonist Linsey Wellman, plus the touring American duo Elka Bong (Al Margolis and Walter Wright). Margolis is an experimental violinist and clarinetist whose works cover both fairly spontaneous studio constructions and more process-oriented composition, while Wright plays drums and electronics and includes electro-acoustic music and videos in his performance. Just don't expect to hear any Art Blakey here...

Safe Low Limit: creative, new low blows and bows (video)

Safe Low Limits's Steve Berndt and Keith Walton    ©2016 Brett Delmage
Safe Low Limits's Steve Berndt and Keith Walton ©2016 Brett Delmage
Safe Low Limit presented its music, which extends far into the bass clef, to appreciative listeners at Le Petit Chicago on Monday nights in November. This was their first public performance as a quartet.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's Inside the Scene interviewed all four members of the group: Steve Berndt (trombone and vocals), Ken Kanwisher (cello). Dr. Keith Walton (tuba), and Michel Delage (drums). All four enthusiastically shared their motivations for participating in this project, the challenges and pleasure of making this music, and what a Doctorate  in tuba is all about (fascinating!) on-camera.

Our story also features excerpts from their performance of Steve Bendt's composition, Safe Low Limit.

– Brett Delmage

Related: Safe Low Limit digs deep for Jazz Mondays in November

"Canada Scene" 2017 launches with Robi Botos' jazzy nod to Oscar Peterson

 

Pianist Robi Botos poses with the statue of Oscar Peterson outside  Canada's National Arts Centre. Botos, a protege of Pederson's, will help celebrate his music and inspiration as part of Canada Scene in 2017 ©Brett Delmage, 2016
Pianist Robi Botos poses with the statue of Oscar Peterson outside Canada's National Arts Centre. Botos, a protege of Pederson's, will help celebrate his music and inspiration as part of Canada Scene in 2017 ©Brett Delmage, 2016

Canada's National Arts Centre (NAC) announced its 2017 Canada Scene festival today, including a major tribute to Oscar Peterson with pianists Robi Botos, Oliver Jones, Jon Kimura Parker, Bill Charlap, Gerald Clayton, Benny Green, and Justin Kauflin.

The Canada Scene festival will run from June 15 to July 30, 2017 – the middle of Canada's 150th birthday year. It will feature artists from across Canada in music , dance, theatre, culinary and visual art, performing at the newly-renovated NAC. It will also be the culmination of seven previous “Scene” festivals at the NAC which celebrated different regions of Canada between 2003 and 2015.

Robi Botos opened the launch event playing a swinging and virtuosic rendition of Peterson's “Blues for Smedley”. He will be one of seven “renowned pianists and close friends of Peterson” included in the July 10 “Oscar, with Love” tribute in Southam Hall – playing on Peterson's own beloved Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano, which will travel to Ottawa for this occasion. The evening will be hosted by Peterson's daughter, Céline.

Fellow Canadians Oliver Jones and Jon Kimura Parker will also perform, along with Americans Bill Charlap, Gerald Clayton, Benny Green, and Justin Kauflin. They will be accompanied by renowned Canadian bassist Dave Young, who played with Peterson for 35 years, in appearances in the Oscar Peterson Trio all over the world up until Peterson’s death in 2007.

Young released an Aspects Of Oscar tribute album with Botos in 2011. In 2012, Young, Botos, and drummer Terry Clarke appeared at a star-studded tribute to Peterson in Ottawa, organized by the German Embassy to celebrate the historical connections between Germany and the Canadian jazz icon.

Botos, Jones, Charlap, Clayton, Green, Kauflin, and Young are also included on the recently-released Oscar with Love CD organized by Peterson's widow, Kelly Peterson, of performances on Peterson's Bösendorfer of never-before-heard Peterson compositions.

William O'Neill: a guitarist talks about his love of big band music

Carleton U music student William O'Neill and his big band performed to a standing ovation for his graduation pertformance  ©2016 Brett Delmage
Carleton U music student William O'Neill and his big band performed to a standing ovation for his graduation pertformance ©2016 Brett Delmage

Guitarist William O'Neill is a fan of big band music. On May 7, he presented his graduation recital with his big band, in the Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University.

His concert featured his original tunes and arrangements and received a standing ovation.

“What really fostered, again, my love for big band music and big sound music was being a part of the Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra. I love the big band style. There's so many options. You can have the power of a freight train or the softness of a soft wind. There are so many elements you can have in this size of group, which I think is just so important and so cool about jazz.”

After his recital, William talked with OttawaJazzScene.ca about how he put together this big band concert. He also spoke about his experience studying music for four years at Carleton University.

View photos of this performance

Listen to the podcast [10 minutes]

You are welcome to download the podcast for personal listening. Please respect our copyright. Do not copy our content to another website, including Facebook. Link to our page instead.

   – Brett Delmage

An expanded quartet rethinks the music (video)

On April 9, guitarist Garry Elliott and pianist Steve Boudreau expanded their long-standing Ottawa duo into a quartet, with two musicians from Montreal.

OttawaJazzScene.ca was at their GigSpace concert to record the result.

They added in bassist Adrian Vedady and drummer Camil Belisle, to create new sounds and, as Elliott told OttawaJazzScene.ca, allow him to dig in more while playing.

"We wanted to get a chance to play our music with different musicians,  just to get a different take on it, and stretch out a bit," Elliott said.

Boudreau said he liked "a lot of things that they added. It was different from other people would have added. I think that Adrian as a bass player is a really tasteful, melodic bass player, but he also has a really strong meaty time feel... And Camil, really super-swinging and really catches a lot of little details in the melodies. Between them, it was a very different experience."

"Some of these songs we've been playing for a while now and it's refreshing to hear a different take on them."

Watch our video report about that show, with two of the songs played that evening along with an interview with Elliott and Boudreau about their responses to what they collectively created.

Petr Cancura and Ian Tamblyn combine jazz, folk in satisfying Crossroads concert (video)

At the end of their packed show on Friday, November 20, 2015, both singer/songwriter Ian Tamblyn and jazz saxophonist Petr Cancura looked tired, happy – and relieved. It was the culmination of several months of collaboration, having jazz musicians work with Tamblyn's songs, and an exploration of new territory for both.

OttawaJazzScene.ca recorded the Crossroads concert and interviewed Petr Cancura, Ian Tamblyn, and two keen listeners after the performance. Watch our video to hear Cancura explain what it was all about, and to decide for yourself how the cross-genre collaboration worked.

The concert was the first in the NAC Presents Crossroads series. Lynn Miles shared the stage on February 4, 2016 (review). Jeremy Fisher joins Cancura's  jazz group on April 7 for the final Crossroads concert of the 2015-16 first season.

   – Brett Delmage

Read our pre-concert interview, Ian Tamblyn and Petr Cancura are outside their comfort zone mixing jazz and folk

Related story: Crossroads concert scribbled on genre boundaries while remaining true to Lynn Miles' songs (review)

Interested in knowing about live folk music in the Ottawa-area? Visit Ottawa Folk Music Events Listings

Vocalese with Steve Berndt and Christine Fagan: "A jazz adventure" (video)

“You just take words and you sing scat or you sing words to jazz solos, to instrumental jazz pieces that never had words originally to them. There's this wealth, and body, of lyrics that have been written to a Lester Young solo or a Miles Davis song that never had lyrics originally written for it.”

“It's a very creative thing,” Steve Berndt told OttawaJazzScene.ca when we met him and vocalist Christine Fagan on the roof of the NAC over the Fourth Stage, where they'll present “Vocalese with Steve Berndt and Christine Fagan” on April 2.


Watch our video story


“The sky's the limit. You can write your own lyrics to things. You could scat sing a solo, which I am planning to do. And you can do a lot of different things with harmonies. It's great. Christine and I sing well together. It's been a while we've been planning this show so we're looking forward to it.”

Christine Fagan was equally passionate about this music. “When I put out a CD, it was mostly, when I think back on it, vocalese, because it was taking instrumentals by friends of mine and writing words to them. So it's kind of a question of what songs to leave out for this show because there's a lot of stuff we'd like to be able to do.”

Watch the OttawaJazzScene.ca video story for a wonderful sample of them singing together, and talking enthusiastically and knowledgably about the music they love and will perform with a jazz trio that includes Tim Bedner, Norman Glaude, and Jamie Gullikson on April 2.

Their show will be one of the last jazz concerts at the Fourth Stage before it closes for 14 months for an upgrade, so we also asked them about their impressions of this stage which they've both performed in many times.

    – Brett Delmage

Steve Berndt and Christine Fagan will present Vocalese at the NAC Fourth Stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Tickets are $25.

Related story: Christine Fagan: a collaboration with lyrics

Watch video stories about other Ottawa-Gatineau vocalists who brought their personal approach to unique jazz concerts at the Fourth Stage:

Petr Cancura and Ian Tamblyn combine jazz, folk in satisfying Crossroads concert

At the end of their packed show on Friday, November 20, 2015, both singer/songwriter Ian Tamblyn and jazz saxophonist Petr Cancura looked tired, happy – and relieved. It was the culmination of several months of collaboration, having jazz musicians work with Tamblyn's songs, and an exploration of new territory for both.

Tamblyn, in fact, told OttawaJazzScene.ca that he hoped he and the four jazz musicians – Cancura on sax and clarinet, Roddy Ellias on guitar, John Geggie on double bass, and Greg Ritchie on drums – would be able to reprise the concert, possibly this spring in Gatineau.

Cancura is collaborating with two other Ottawa-area singer-songwriters as part of this NAC Presents Crossroads series: Lynn Miles on Thursday, February 4, 2016, and Jeremy Fisher on Thursday April 7. Both concerts will again be presented in the NAC Fourth Stage.

OttawaJazzScene.ca recorded the concert and interviewed Cancura, Tamblyn, and two listeners after the performance. Watch our video to get a feel of the collaboration.

   – Brett Delmage

Read our pre-concert interview, Ian Tamblyn and Petr Cancura are outside their comfort zone mixing jazz and folk

Related: Crossroads concert scribbled on genre boundaries while remaining true to Lynn Miles' songs (review)

Interested in knowing about live folk music in the Ottawa-area? Visit Ottawa Folk Music Events Listings

Linsey Wellman declares his bilingual Manifesto (video)

In January 2015, improvising saxophonist Linsey Wellman invited listeners to participate in the live recording of his bilingual, solo CD, Manifesto. On January 27, the one-year anniversary of the recording, he invited listeners back to DAÏMÔN in Gatineau for its release. The event, which included a 35-minute solo saxophone performance, marked the official start of his CD release tour.

OttawaJazzScene.ca attended the event, where Wellman talked to us on-camera about his philosophy, the development of his music since his first solo saxophone CD, Ephemera, and his relationship with listeners and live performance. Our video story also includes excerpts from the performance.

For more details in both official languages visit LinseyWellman.com

    – Brett Delmage

The Manifesto CD release tour

  • Montréal – 31 janvier/January (185 Van Horne)
  • Guelph – 4 février/February (Silence)
  • Toronto – 5 février/February (The Music Gallery – emergents)
  • Hamilton – 6 février/February (HAVN – Zula presents)

Related stories

The Mike Tremblay Trio Live at GigSpace - as it happened (video)

Saxophonist Mike Tremblay releases his new CD, Live at GigSpace, this Sunday, October 18 at Trinity United Church. He recorded it with guitarist Tim Bedner, and bassist Ben Heard on June 19, before an enthusiastic audience at GigSpace.

©Brett Delmage, 2015
“I wanted to see if I could put together a program and have the challenge of 'no second takes'. This is recording, and it's a live concert, and it's nice to be under that pressure,” Tremblay told OttawaJazzScene.ca in June, prior to the recording.

“When you're in the studio, you do two or three takes of full tunes and then you sit on them and listen for a while - 'Do we need to go back and record them again?' It's really nice to just go in and say 'Here it is'. And tapes don't lie. This is how you play,” Tremblay said, laughing at the time.

“This is 'old school' jazz recording. We just show up to the session and see what happens,” Bedner said in June, also laughing.

There was a lot more laughter during the performance and live recording by both musicians and audience, as aspirations met reality.

“I'm going to trust Mike that he knows what he's doing. But I am glad we're having a rehearsal,” Bedner told us before the recording.

Watch our video story to see how it worked out for Bedner and the other musicians and the audience, and see some of the wonderful music on the album being performed.

    – Brett Delmage

GigSpace's new piano gets a melodic try-out from Bernie Senensky and Roddy Ellias (video)

This summer, a very special new resident arrived at GigSpace: the Yamaha C3 piano which they were able to purchase with the $18,000 in their 88 Keys fundraiser.

GigSpace really did their homework making sure the piano would sound great, including asking three-time jazz Juno nominee Bernie Senensky to thoroughly play it this summer before they bought it.

On September 13, Senensky was in Ottawa to play an afternoon concert at GigSpace with guitarist Roddy Ellias – and he got to try out the piano in its new home.

OttawaJazzScene.ca was there to hear the piano for ourselves and share its story with you. Senensky explained to us how he tested the piano, and you can see him play his own composition on it in our video story.

Watch Rob Frayne's Dream Band (video)

©2015 Brett Delmage
©2015 Brett Delmage

Ottawa composer Rob Frayne isn't afraid to push for the stars with his Dream Band. Over the last three years, he's showcased several editions of the band — some larger, some smaller, and with different musicians from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.

But what's stayed the same is the nature of Frayne's music, although he's continued to add new compositions and new arrangements. It's complex and multi-layered, with weaving horns which can be dreamy at one moment and full-out the next, complemented with a different kind of rhythm section - uniquely his.

On Friday, Frayne presents his latest edition of the Dream Band, this time an octet ("The Dream Combo"), at the NAC Fourth Stage. And this time he'll be playing saxophone in the band.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's Brett Delmage recorded the Dream BigBand's last show in April, which filled the Westboro Legion.

Here's an excerpt from that show, showing off its transcendent music, and featuring some of the musicians who will also appear in Friday's show.

    – Alayne McGregor with Brett Delmage

Updated 2015-09-10 to correct the group's name for the September 11 performance.

A year later, Bernie Senensky and Roddy Ellias repeat their warm duet, with GigSpace's new piano (video)

This Sunday afternoon, you can hear the new grand piano at GigSpace played by the musician who made sure it was in fine shape before being purchased.

Bernie Senensky ©2014 Brett Delmage
Bernie Senensky ©2014 Brett Delmage
Toronto pianist and three-time Juno nominee Bernie Senensky is back in Ottawa, for a duo show at GigSpace with guitarist Roddy Ellias. And he'll be playing the new piano.

This spring, after a successful fundraising campaign, GigSpace went looking for a piano, and found one outside Toronto. GigSpace artistic director Marilee Townsend-Alcorn wrote they had it checked by two Yamaha technicians, but “we wanted someone who knows pianos: the feel, the sound, to actually play it before we made an offer to purchase.”

“Bernie Senensky was able to clear his schedule and make time to do it right away. He played the piano for over an hour, all styles of music, and gave us a big thumbs up. And we have since received only high praise for its beautiful sound!”

Senensky was last in Ottawa a year ago, opening the weekly jazz series at the now-defunct ZenKitchen. His duo concert there with Ellias was warmly received by a full house of intent jazz listeners. OttawaJazzScene.ca was there and recorded the first set. You can watch some fun excerpts from their previous show below.

Oscar Peterson's 90th birthday is remembered in music and lemonade at the National Arts Centre (video)

Many attentive and enthusiastic listeners braved the heat and humidity to celebrate what would have been Oscar Peterson's 90th birthday at the special NAC performance ©2015 Brett Delmage
Many attentive and enthusiastic listeners braved the heat and humidity to celebrate what would have been Oscar Peterson's 90th birthday at the special NAC performance ©2015 Brett Delmage
On Saturday, August 15 – 90 years to the day after the late celebrated jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was born in Montreal – the National Arts Centre celebrated his birthday. The show was on the sidewalk outside the NAC, with the popular statue of Peterson by sculptor Ruth Abernethy looking on. Peterson's widow, Kelly, also spoke at the show.

Hundreds of jazz fans showed up to remember Peterson. They heard local pianist Clayton Connell, together with Kelly Craig on trumpet, Ben Heard on bass, and Michel Delage on drums, perform Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom" along with several standards he made famous.

Hardly anyone moved or talked during the 35-minute show, despite the broiling August sun. But when NAC communications director Rosemary Thompson announced at the end of the show that the NAC had lemonade available inside, it vanished very fast (as did the birthday cupcakes)!

OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed Connell and Thompson about the show and their love of his music. You can see them and excerpts from the show in our video.

    – Alayne McGregor

Also read our story about the show:

Los Gringos brings their own original Latin jazz to the scene (video)

Los Gringos brings their own Latin jazz to a free concert at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on Sunday June 28   ©2015 Brett Delmage
Los Gringos brings their own Latin jazz to a free concert at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on Sunday June 28 ©2015 Brett Delmage
Los Gringos has brought the joy of Latin big band music to Ottawa since the 1990s. Led by drummer Pete Beaudoin and trombonist/composer Mark Ferguson, their concerts feature crisp, complex percussion and driving horn sections.  Most of the material for the nine-member band is original, based on Afro-Cuban rhythms with their own twist.

OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed the two co-leaders at their most recent performance in April. Our video story also includes excerpts of that show.

Los Gringos are performing in a free concert at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on Sunday June 28 at 2 p.m. on the Laurier Avenue Music Stage, at City Hall. Expect a rousing good time.

    – Brett Delmage

Bamboo Groove - Asian-infused jazz and love songs (video)

May is Asian Heritage Month. This year Bamboo Groove celebrates their fifth anniversary of playing their unique, Asian-infused jazz.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's Inside the Scene was at leader and vocalist Peter Liu's launch of his first CD, Bamboo Groove, about the journey of love.. Our video story includes an interview with him about the CD – and excerpts from a jazz performance that he sung in four different languages!

    – Brett Delmage


Also, read our full interview with Peter Liu about the making of his CD, Peter Liu: love songs and jazz cross cultural boundaries in Bamboo Groove

May flowers into jazz, from Ottawa and abroad

Megan Jerome's Together Ensemble releases a new CD on May 14  © Brett Delmage, 2011
Megan Jerome's Together Ensemble releases a new CD on May 14 © Brett Delmage, 2011

Updated May 10
The festival season starts a month early this year, with Ontario Scene showcasing a wide range of jazz and creative, improvised music artists from Ottawa and the rest of the province at the National Arts Centre and other venues. Those concerts will dominate the first ten days of May, but there's lots of other good jazz shows coming up this month to listen to..

At this time of year, local jazz artists are presenting the projects they've been working on for the last year. So we'll see three Ottawa vocalists present their Centenary Celebration of Billie Holiday's birth; three long-awaited CD releases; and lots of special concerts.

Ottawa listeners will have the chance to hear out-of-town jazz artists who don't often play here, including Mike Murley, Kevin Breit, Tara Kannangara, Jesse Cook, Laila Biali, Jaron Freeman-Fox, Snaggle, bet.e & Stef, Nancy Walker and Kieran Overs, Laura Crema – and even Diana Krall.

There will be something for everyone – from jazz vocal classics, to propulsive mainstream instrumentals, to highly-improvised free jazz. And OttawaJazzScene.ca will be giving you the opportunity to win free tickets to some of those shows.

Dominique Forest launches her first CD, C'est a moi, with verve

Dominque Forest: 'C'est a moi' The CD will receive its second launch, in Sudbury, on April 18. ©Brett Delmage, 2015
Dominque Forest: 'C'est a moi' The CD will receive its second launch, in Sudbury, on April 18. ©Brett Delmage, 2015

Dominique Forest is a popular and accomplished interpreter of jazz standards in the Ottawa-Gatineau scene. But when she started planning her first CD, C'est à moi, she became inspired to write all the material on the album herself, influenced by standards but also by other music she loves.

OttawaJazzScene.ca was at the launch concert for the CD in January. We have excerpts from the concert and  a video interview with Dominique talking more about the CD.

She is presenting a second CD launch in Sudbury, where she grew up, this Saturday, April 18.

Be sure to also read our associated interview, Dominique Forest finds her own way dans son nouveau CD

   – Brett Delmage

David Mott on the Sonoluminescence Trio in performance (video)

Sonoluminescence: Jesse Stewart, William Parker, David Mott at their warmly-received 2014 GigSpace concerts ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Sonoluminescence: Jesse Stewart, William Parker, David Mott at their warmly-received 2014 GigSpace concerts ©Brett Delmage, 2014

The Sonoluminescence Trio returns to Ottawa on March 18, 2016, at GigSpace, this time with painter Jeff Schlanger witnessing their performance.

OttawaJazzScene.ca talked with Sonoluminescence Trio member and baritone saxophonist David Mott after the groups's live performance at GigSpace on March 14, 2014. We discovered why he loves the baritone sax, and about the process of making music with fellow members percussionist Jesse Stewart and bassist William Parker. The trio also performs their encore improvisation to an enthusiastic audience in the video.

Be sure to also read our associated story, William Parker, David Mott, and Jesse Stewart have many stories to tell.

   – Brett Delmage

Nick Fraser and Tony Malaby: improvising at the edges of compositions (video)

When Toronto (and ex-Ottawa) drummer Nick Fraser released his CD, Towns and Villages, with NYC saxophonist Tony Malaby two years ago, it turned out to be the start of a very fruitful musical relationship.

Nick Fraser Quartet at GigSpace  ©2013 Brett Delmage
Nick Fraser Quartet at GigSpace ©2013 Brett Delmage

Together with cellist Andrew Downing and bassist Rob Clutton, they're now on their third tour together, with a stop tonight in Ottawa at the Raw Sugar Café as part of the IMOO series.

On their second tour, OttawaJazzScene.ca filmed the group in concert at GigSpace, and interviewed Fraser about his compositions and how the group interprets and improvises on them. It's an experience he enthuses about: "It's pretty exciting for me to play my music with these guys who I admire so much. It's a dream for me, honestly,"

Our video story includes excerpts from the GigSpace show and the interview with Fraser.

    – Brett Delmage

See the OttawaJazzScene.ca interview with Fraser about the album: Nick Fraser's CD is full of resonances [2013].


Molly Johnson at Ontario Scene: "it's because of Billie" (video)

Read the OttawaJazzScene.ca review of Molly Johnson's Ontario Scene show on May 1, 2015.

Toronto jazz vocalist Molly Johnson was in Ottawa on March 2 to help launch the new National Centre festival, Ontario Scene. She'll be showcasing her new album, Because of Billie, at a scene concert on May 1.

Molly Johnson at Ontario Scene  ©2015 Brett Delmage
Molly Johnson at Ontario Scene ©2015 Brett Delmage

It's a tribute to jazz icon Billie Holiday, but also to remember how Holiday surmounted many hardships in a very difficult childhood. Johnson will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the CD to the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, to help children living in poverty.

After Johnson sang at the Ontario Scene launch, OttawaJazzScene.ca editor Alayne McGregor interviewed her about the CD, what Billie Holiday meant to her, how she prepared for the CD, and what gives her even more joy than her recent Juno nomination for the CD.

Our video story includes an interview with  Molly Johnson, and her and pianist Robi Botos performing "They Can't Take That Away From Me".

    – Brett Delmage

See also:

Steve Berndt and Brian Browne: live at the NAC, All Over Again (video)

Vocalist Steve Berndt and pianist Brian Browne released their second album as a duo: All Over Again, on March 28, 2014. It joined 2012's Déjà Vu, the first half of the paired set.

Four of the songs, all jazz standards, were recorded in 2012; others were recorded subsequently.

“Some of the tracks that we recorded in the original Déjà Vu sessions were very good, and I had to make a decision about having an album with 17 or 18 songs on it,” Berndt previously told OttawaJazzScene.ca.

“And so I began thinking it would be good to do a bookend album using those tracks, and also to have the chance to record with Brian again. So that's part of the reason I named it All Over Again. So all I had to do was to write a song called 'All Over Again' that was worth listening to and good.”

OttawaJazzScene.ca was at the CD release concert at the NAC Fourth Stage. Our video interview below the jump includes an excerpt of both album's title tracks: Déjà Vu, and  All Over Again, from the live performance.

    – Brett Delmage

See OttawaJazzScene.ca's video interview with Steve and Brian about the release of Déjà Vu, including clips from the CD release concert at the NAC Fourth Stage:

Read the full interview about the album

Roddy Ellias returns to GigSpace alone (video)

Roddy Ellias and Adrian Vedady at GigSpace. © Brett Delmage, 2013
Roddy Ellias and Adrian Vedady at GigSpace. © Brett Delmage, 2013

In the last year, Ottawa guitarist and composer Roddy Ellias was awarded a four-star review in Downbeat Magazine for his new trio album Monday's Dream. He's been playing steadily with his own group and other notable musicians in Ottawa and abroad. Now he returns to GigSpace on Saturday, November 22 to play by himself.

“As much as I love playing with other musicians, there’s a freedom that comes with playing solo guitar that is central to the way I hear music unfold,” he says.

OttawaJazzScene.ca's video documentary crew was at his previous solo concert at GigSpace on March 23, 2013, to capture the experience. Watch our video to experience (as much as one can in a video as opposed to actually being there) Ellias' performance, improvisation, and good humour. Listen carefully for Gigspace's exceptionally low noise: it's a highly supportive room for listening to a solo guitar performance with the subtlety and dynamic range that a master guitarist like Ellias delivers.

   – Brett Delmage

Sold-out audience applauds Rob Frayne's return to the sax (video)

Rob Frayne ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Rob Frayne ©Brett Delmage, 2014
On October 10, 2014 Rob Frayne returned to the stage before a sold-out audience at GigSpace with his original compositions, musical friends, good humour – and his tenor saxophone.

It was the first time he'd played the sax in a concert in almost a decade. Read our full interview.

Ten years ago (November, 2004), Frayne's car was hit by a truck, and he was badly injured. His return followed a long period of recovery, readjustment – and determination.

OttawaJazzScene.ca was there to capture this momentous occasion on video, and talk with Frayne about his music and his return as a saxophonist.

He'll be back at GigSpace for round two on Saturday, November 15, in Cooking with Courage 4. He will play bass and sax to support his partner and the group leader Martine Courage on piano and vocals; they will be joined by Mike Essoudry on drums and Laura Nerenberg on violin.

Blossom Dearie tribute is 'hip' at Merrickville's Jazz Fest (video)

Four years ago, three Ottawa vocalists paid tribute to one of their favourite jazz singers, Blossom Dearie, singing
some of her most famous songs, both ballads and teasing upbeat numbers. Their show at the NAC Fourth Stage was enthusiastically received.

"Peel Me a Grape!" ©2010 Brett Delmage
"Peel Me a Grape!" ©2010 Brett Delmage
But that was it – until this month, when Karen Oxorn, Marcie Campbell, and Caroline Gibson will revive the show as the closing concert for Merrickville's Jazz Fest. OttawaJazzScene.ca videoed the original concert in 2010. We have combined clips from that show with a recent interview with Oxorn and Campbell, looking back to the first show and forward to its revival. Watch it to get a taste of what you will be able to see and hear on October 19 at Merrickville's Jazz Fest.

   – Brett Delmage

ZenKitchen quietly launches new Wednesday Night Jazz (video)

ZenKitchen launched its new Wednesday Night Jazz on September 24, expanding its live jazz performances beyond its successful Sunday night jazz.

Two to make sound and one to keep it down: Roddy Ellias, Bernie Senensky and Dave Loan launch Wednesday Jazz Nights at ZenKitchen  ©2014 Brett Delmage
Two to make sound and one to keep it down: Roddy Ellias, Bernie Senensky and Dave Loan launch Wednesday Jazz Nights at ZenKitchen ©2014 Brett Delmage
Hosted and organized by Ottawa's own Jazz Hero Roddy Ellias, the new series features top Canadian guest musicians, many of them Juno Award winners and nominees: Bernie Senensky, Roddy Ellias' own trio, Joel Miller, Jeri Brown, Mike Rud, Dave Young, John Geggie, Lorne Lofsky, and Diane White. Read all about these upcoming shows in our previous story.

Many listeners have continued to sing the blues about the closure of Café Paradiso. That popular, former restaurant and jazz venue presented a decade of jazz by both local and touring jazz musicians until it closed suddenly in 2012. But it was not without its faults. The owner requested patrons to keep their noise down to “a dull roar” - and unfortunately they frequently complied.

By contrast, ZenKitchen's Wednesday Jazz Club has been presented as a different kind of experience – one where the music comes first. "We request patrons to refrain from talking during the sets to allow everyone to experience this fantastic music," states the series' information page at ZenKitchen.ca

Could ZenKitchen be Café Paradiso's replacement?

OttawaJazzScene.ca reporters were there – at one of ZenKitchen's regular dining tables – for their very first Wednesday evening show. We brought our video and audio recording equipment, so we could carefully capture the performance just as other listeners/diners and you might experience it. Watch our video to enjoy musical excerpts from that show, see interviews with the people making this happen, and hear what listeners of all kinds thought about the evening.

Judge the experience for yourself: virtually, and in-person – and please email us to let us what you think.

   – Brett Delmage

Ottawa benefit raises $900 for Canadian trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler (video)

The musicians played Kenny Wheeler's compositions intently: (l-r) Michel Delage, Alex Bilodeau, Roddy Ellias, Peter Hum, Mark Ferguson, Christine Fagan ©Brett Delmage, 2014
The musicians played Kenny Wheeler's compositions intently: (l-r) Michel Delage, Alex Bilodeau, Roddy Ellias, Peter Hum, Mark Ferguson, Christine Fagan ©Brett Delmage, 2014

Updated 2014 September 30 to add video interviews and concert excerpts

On Friday, a benefit concert in Ottawa for the late Canadian trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler raised $900, with more expected from those who couldn't attend.

The benefit was organized by guitarist Roddy Ellias and pianist Peter Hum. They recruited Mark Ferguson on trombone, Alex Bilodeau on bass, Michel Delage on drums, and Christine Fagan on vocals. Together, they honoured Wheeler and his major influence on jazz and big band music. In two sets, they played a wide range of compositions by Wheeler, to a very attentive, quiet, and appreciative full house at Zola's Restaurant in Bells Corners.

The Patrick Smith Trio recreates history (video)

Jazz musicians often refer to favourite albums, or quote tiny passages. But most don't get so far into their favourites that they try to play the entire album as is.

Saxophonist Patrick Smith initially didn't like what turned out to be his favourite album. But as he kept listening to it, he realized what a great ensemble record this 1960s classic really was. And that inspired him to persuade two other local young jazz musicians to join him in paying the most sincere compliment they could to that record and to those late musicians: to play the album in public from front to back, paying tribute without copying.

On Friday, June 13, the trio, with Ben Heard on double bass and Keagan Eskritt on drums, did exactly that for patrons of Gaia Java, a small coffeehouse in Stittsville which often offers jazz on Friday nights. They received a warm response.

In our video of that concert, you can hear the trio playing and listen to them explain what they learned from the experience. And you can learn the name of the album, too!

And you can hear all three musicians live on Friday, July 4, at Pressed – but in different combinations, and playing their own original music.

Kellylee Evans celebrates Canada Day with 2 free concerts with the NAC Orchestra

Kellylee Evans is used to having quiet Canada Days with her family. This year, she'll be on the main stage of the National Arts Centre, with almost 400 other musicians around her.

Kellylee Evans rehearses with the NAC Orchestra and Unisong Choir
Kellylee Evans rehearses with the NAC Orchestra and Unisong Choir

The Ottawa-based jazz vocalist will be the headliner with the NAC Orchestra for its annual Canada Day concerts, playing in the air-conditioned 2,323-seat Southam Hall. Both concerts, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. are free.

When she talked with OttawaJazzScene.ca, she was bubbling with excitement, because this was her very first official Canada Day gig. “I'd got used to not doing anything on Canada Day. I've lived here for so long, and I don't think I'm on the National Capital's radar.”

“I never knew the NAC did anything [on July 1]. So when they wrote me I was shocked ... and happy. What an honour! And it was absolute like yes, right away.”

Besides the 50-odd orchestra musicians, Evans will also be joined by her jazz trio – and the Unisong Choir, composed of 72 local and over 250 visiting choristers from across the country. “It's a really tight space.”

Evans' share of the program will be four songs, each of which has been rearranged for the orchestra. She will perform “Free”, a song she wrote in honour of Nelson Mandela, with the Unisong Choir. She said she picked that song and “Feeling Good”, from her Juno-winning album, Nina, because both are “message songs, songs that I felt would be really great for Canada Day.”

The remaining two are from her most recent album, I Remember When: the title track and “My Name is”. That song was inspired by two Eminem songs, “so the NAC Orchestra is going to be playing music inspired by Eminem – I'm sure that's a first!”

The Roddy Ellias Trio never stops talking with their music (video)

Roddy Ellias and Adrian Vedady at GigSpace. © Brett Delmage, 2013
Roddy Ellias and Adrian Vedady at GigSpace. © Brett Delmage, 2013

Ottawa guitarist and composer Roddy Ellias has left audiences in both Ottawa and Montreal absorbed and delighted by his live music with his trio. This month Ellias, bassist Adrian Vedady, and drummer Thom Gossage are putting out their first CD as a group, Monday's Dream. They're marking the occasion with a CD release concert in Ottawa on March 22 and in Montreal on March 30.

The trio recorded the album starting last December, and prepared for it with a well-received concert at GigSpace in November. OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed Ellias after the concert about his music, and you see highlights from their concert and that interview in our video below.

   – Brett Delmage

You can hear samples from the Monday's Dream and purchase tracks or the whole album at www.roddyellias.com

See OttawaJazzScene.ca's interview with Roddy about the upcoming CD, and our photos and story about their last Ottawa concert:

Jesse Stewart talks about the challenges of making music outdoors at -25C (video)

Not your summer festival: Listeners wearing appropriate attire braved the -25C temps to enjoy the free Winterlude outdoor concerts in Confederation Park © Brett Delmage, 2014
Not your summer festival: Listeners wearing appropriate attire braved the -25C temps to enjoy the free Winterlude outdoor concerts in Confederation Park © Brett Delmage, 2014

Jesse Stewart has brought winter-specific compositions and performances to Winterlude since 2010, when he first performed Glacialis on musical instruments made of ice.

For six evenings during the 2014 Winterlude, he performed his new musical composition and improvisation, Memories of Ice, in which he invoked his own and others' memories and sounds of ice and snow past.

OttawaJazzScene.ca attended his performances to find out what his latest music-making tool: a "Reactable" is, and to learn about the challenges of making music outdoors at -25C.   Our video equipment held up (although it took 9 hours to warm back up to room temperature!) - so now you can learn too.

   – Brett Delmage

See also:  Jesse Stewart brings 'Memories of Ice' to free Winterlude shows

Jazzin' the Holidays creates holiday cheer for GigSpace (video)

Elise Letourneau, Nicole Ratté, and Karen Oxorn (l-r, with Mark Alcorn on bass) raised $1100 for GigSpace at their sold-out holiday concert there Dec. 22. ©Brett Delmage, 2013
Elise Letourneau, Nicole Ratté, and Karen Oxorn (l-r, with Tim Bedner on guitar and Mark Alcorn on bass) raised $1100 for GigSpace at their sold-out holiday concert there Dec. 22. ©Brett Delmage, 2013
A few days before Christmas, three Ottawa jazz vocalists teamed up with three local jazz instrumentalists to benefit a venue they enjoy performing at: GigSpace Performance Studio.

Despite two huge snowstorms that walloped Ottawa in the previous few days, Elise Letourneau, Karen Oxorn, and Nicole Ratté, presented Jazzin' the Holidays to a capacity audience. Performing songs ranging from traditional carols to Christmas favourites to songs which have become jazz standards, from serious to humorous, and in both English and French, they gave each their own twist.

GigSpace board member and concert bassist Mark Alcorn said the fundraising event raised more than $1100. Fellow board member and guitarist Tim Bedner said that GigSpace is becoming more popular with local and touring musicians, with events booked as far away as June, 2014.

OttawaJazzScene.ca was there and recorded the concert to give you a taste of the experience. Watch our video after the turn.

Find out more about GigSpace and how to make a donation (it's a registered charity) at gigspaceottawa.com

    – Alayne McGregor

Will Accordion Conspiracy take over IMOOfest? (video)

Bernard Stepien and David Broscoe have been conspirators for a long time, but usually playing saxophone. But five years ago, Bernard brought his Hohner accordion – the one he played as a child – over from Europe, and the extra capabilities of that instrument and the encouragement of a few friends persuaded him to try it in a improvised music context.

And so was born their Accordion Conspiracy. They'll be reprising it at IMOOfest this Saturday, November 9, at 8:30 p.m.

Our video features excerpts from their  initial concert at IMOO on January 27, 2013, and an interview with Stepien and Broscoe.

Three Ottawa vocalists recreate classic Ella and Billie Newport concerts (video)

A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday will be presented at the 1000 Islands Jazz & Blues Festival on May 31, 2014.


In April, 2013, three Ottawa singers created a tribute concert to two iconic female jazz singers: Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. OttawaJazzScene.ca was at the sold-out concert with our video production team, and we interviewed the singers afterwards.

They used Ella and Billie's appearance at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival – within two days of each other – and the classic recording that renowned producer Norman Granz made of those Newport performances as a jumping-off point for the concert.

Recreating the repertoire of those Newport concerts, Karen Oxorn, Nicole Ratté, and Dominique Forest brought back some of the greatest vocal jazz hits of the era.

Our video features excerpts from the concert, and the singers' explanation of their reaction to the songs and the concert.

Go to the video

Scott Thomson explains how he fills large spaces with resonant sound

Jim Lewis walks through the National Gallery as he plays his part of "Chamber Elements"
Jim Lewis walks through the National Gallery as he plays his part of "Chamber Elements"

Composer Scott Thomson made the National Gallery of Canada his unique performance space for his composition for brass and improvising choir for the 2012 Ottawa Chamberfest. He's doing it again in 2013, this time at Ottawa City Hall at noon on Thursday, August 1. The performance is free.

In our video you can see and hear part of the National Gallery performance by trumpets, trombones and Christine Duncan's Element Choir. Scott explains how he planned the half-hour of music for maximum effect in the specific space and tuned the music to that space.

    – Brett Delmage

See the interview with Scott Thomson about his work:
Chamber Elements: Many unique ways of listening to improvised music

Watch the video

Two exceptional percussionists play the Ottawa Jazz Festival this week (video)

Two exceptional improvising percussionists: Ottawa's own Jesse Stewart, and Chicago's Hamid Drake, will play at the Ottawa Jazz Festival's Improv Invitational Series this week.

Hamid Drake plays in the French American Peace Ensemble with William Parker, Kidd Jordan, and François Tusques on Sunday, June 23 at 6 p.m.

Jesse Stewart plays with the Matt Brubeck and Kevin Breit in the Juno-award-winning Stretch Orchestra  on Thursday, June 27 at 8 p.m.

OttawaJazzScene.ca attended Stewart and Drake's first joint concert at GigSpace in March. Although you won't hear them play together this week, our video with excerpts from their concert will give you a real feel for their skill and versatility as percussionists and improvisers, together and apart.

    – Brett Delmage

Watch the video

Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra - in the making (video)


Nominated for Jazz Journalists Association
Short Form Jazz Video of the Year

 

Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) performed a tribute to Count Basie on March 3. OttawaJazzScene.ca talked with Director Nicholas Dyson and band members to discover what they have gained from participating in CYJO. Discover why members and listeners return to CYJO every year, from the interviews and concert excerpts in this video.

CYJO returns with their next concert on Sunday April 14 to present "a very exciting program of Canadian music, including songs by Mark Ferguson, Adam Daudrich, and Christine Jensen." They will be joined by guest soloists and the McGill University Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Joe Sullivan. Expect a big sound.

    – Brett Delmage

See also:

Roddy Ellias can fill an entire room with the music from just his guitar (video)

Guitarist and composer Roddy Ellias can fill an entire room with the music from just his guitar, including the silence he plays and quiet attention from his audiences. He'll be showing how he does that, in a wide variety of styles, at a solo concert tonight (Saturday, March 23) at 8 p.m. at GigSpace.

We talked with Roddy after his initial GigSpace series concert with John Fraboni (drums) and Adrian Vedady (double bass). Watch a few clips from that concert, along with him talking about his music and a guitar he really loves.

    – Brett Delmage

On April 30, 2013, Roddy Ellias was received a Jazz Hero award from the Jazz Journalists Association. Watch OttawaJazzScene.ca's video of the celebration and hear from some of Ellias' musical friends who already thought that he was a jazz hero.

Watch the video

Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra performs a hot Latin set (video)

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.

See also:  CYJO heats up Ottawa with a Latin vibe and 46 musicians

Watch the videos including The Move, Mermaid Beach, and The First Circle

    – Brett Delmage

What's inside Chocolate Hot Pockets ?

The Chocolate Hot Pockets CD release party is this Friday (January 18).

The members of the Chocolate Hot Pockets - Alex Moxon (guitar), Jamie Holmes (drums), J.P Lapensée (bass), Ed Lister (trumpet) - have been some of the hardest-working young jazz musicians in Ottawa-Gatineau in the past few years. Hardly a week has gone by in the past few years without our listings including one of them, and usually a combination of them, playing in a local restaurant or club.

Chocolate Hot Pockets live at Atomic Rooster ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Chocolate Hot Pockets live at Atomic Rooster ©Brett Delmage, 2012

The Capital Youth Jazz Orchestra's rhythm section took a big hit this fall after Moxon, Holmes and Lapensée completed their 'senior year' and had to leave to make room for younger members. Since then, the three Carleton University music graduates and Lister have not wasted any time getting their latest project cooking. Chocolate Hot Pockets' first CD will be released on January 18, 2013.

We talked with all four band members about their highly varied musical influences and how this has combined into the Chocolate Hot Pockets' sound. Our interview also includes music samples from their November and December live performances.

    – Brett Delmage

Watch the video

The Ottawa Junior Jazz Band: a passion to play

Mandar Gumaste rehearses the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band
Mandar Gumaste rehearses the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band

Ottawa music teacher Mandar Gumaste had a dream: to create a big band where younger teens could enjoy great jazz music and get better at playing it. Now in its 11th year, the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band (OJJB) is still going strong, and Mandar and his students look forward to every Tuesday night practice.

OttawaJazzScene.ca interviewed Mandar and members of the OJJB at their 10th anniversary concert about the band, how it's evolved, and what they've got from it. Watch highlights of our interviews and selections from the concert in the video, below the jump.

Watch the video

Rob Frayne Dream Band plays in closing festival tribute to Jacques Emond

The Rob Frayne Dream Band debuted in a well-attended, two-evening run at the NAC last October. The band returns, as part of the Ottawa Jazz Festival's closing evening's big-band tribute to the late festival programming director, Jacques Emond, who loved big bands. Expect great music and a lot of emotion as everyone plays goodbye to Jacques.
(8:00 p.m. Sunday June 30, Main Stage)

Rob Frayne is a saxophonist, keyboard player, composer, and arranger. Over the past 25 years, he's had a huge presence on the Ottawa jazz scene as a musician in several prominent groups, as a founder of the JazzWorks jazz camp, and as a mentor and teacher.

Nine years ago, he was injured when his car was hit by a truck. But he's come back and is dreaming bigger than ever. His latest project features his Dream Band: 15 well-respected Canadian jazz musicians, the people he knew could interpret his compositions well.

Frayne talked with OttawaJazzScene.ca before October's concerts about the music he's written, and how he's fulfilling his dreams.

Rob Frayne's Dream Band brought a lot of great Canadian jazz musicians to the NAC Fourth Stage in October ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Rob Frayne's Dream Band brought a lot of great Canadian jazz musicians to the NAC Fourth Stage in October ©Brett Delmage, 2012


Watch the video

IMOO: Still making it up as they go, two years later (video)

IMOO co-founders Craig Pedersen and Linsey Wellman ©Brett Delmage, 2012
IMOO co-founders Craig Pedersen and Linsey Wellman ©Brett Delmage, 2012

The inaugural IMOOfest (IMOO - Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais festival) takes place this Friday October 5 and Saturday October 6, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Club SAW [details]. This mini-festival marks the start of the third year of operation for IMOO and the end of two very busy and artistically successful years of this unique local improvised music series.

IMOO co-founders and improvising musicians Craig Pedersen and Linsey Wellman talked to OttawaJazzScene.ca about IMOOfest, and about the experience of running an improvised music series that has put Ottawa on the map for touring improvisers. We've combined the interview with some photos from past IMOO concerts.

OttawaJazzScene.ca is giving away some free passes to IMOOfest to listeners who are willing to try something new and tell us about the experience. Find out how to apply for free IMOO passes and see links to more stories about IMOO

Watch the video