Here’s a round-up of what some of the JazzWorks faculty are up to these days. I sent a note out recently asking them what they are up to and the responses have been coming in. One of the interesting things to me is how many JazzWorks people, both faculty and former participants are involved.
Nancy Walker finished off 2013 on a 10-day jazz cruise led by trumpeter Guido Basso, which she describes as “a cushy gig.” She was in good company too, sailing to warm places in the company of Guido and her husband, Kieran Overs, along with Mike Murley, Barry Elmes and Heather Bambrick.
Nancy has just finished recording and mixing her new CD, ’Til Now Is Secret, which is coming out next month on Addo Records (www.addorecords.com). All of the material is original and the personnel includes Kieran Overs on bass, Shirantha Beddage on saxophones and bass clarinet, Ted Quinlan on guitar and Ethan Ardelli on drums. The CD is being released with a live performance at Gallery 345 in Toronto on Thursday Feb. 27th at 8 pm. http://www.gallery345.com/performances.php
Rémi Bolduc has a concert on March 21 at l'Astral, in Jazz en Rafale, Montreal. His quartet includes Parisian pianiste Baptiste Trotignon, New York drummer Ari Hoenig and Montreal bassist and former Ottawan Fraser Hollins. “Playfulness and complicity will be the guests of honor to this unique evening in which virtuosity serves music,” Rémi writes.
Steve Boudreau has been active locally, both teaching and performing. He has been piano for a monthly open mic for jazz singers at Caffe La Grotta (262 Preston St.) that a few JazzWorks singers have been coming to. February was booked for Valentine's so March 14 is the next one, 8-10:30 P.M.
Also coming up is an IMOO concert of the Keys2Drums trio on March 2, featuring Steve and two drummers, Jeff Asselin and Michel Delage. They will play some Ornette Coleman tunes and some originals based on Indian ragas.
Steve also plays The Options Lounge at Brookstreet once or twice a month with Jazzworks alum Rebecca Noelle. The next one is February 8.
Steve adds, “I have been doing a weekly session where we sight-read tunes in the Real Book exactly as written and end with a transcription or obscure tune that I lift.” This happens Saturdays at GigSpace from 2-3 p.m. It's called Reading Chops. The drop in rate is $10 or $15 for three.
Kevin Barrett is playing in (and is also musical director for) a project called Symphronica. It's the brainchild of pianist Ron Davis. Originally a recording with Ron's trio plus the Windsor Symphony, it has morphed into an ongoing series featuring a jazz quartet (piano/bass/drums/guitar) plus a string quartet. Upcoming Toronto gigs include: Feb. 8 at Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue, Feb. 19 and the third Wednesday of every month at Toronto's Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St. W.).
In early March, Kevin travels to Russia to perform with Daniela Nardi's ESPRESSO MANIFESTO, a project featuring jazz re-interpretations of the music of Italian singer-songwriter Paolo Conte. Later in March, he does a teaching tour — leading music workshops in various locations around the Northwest Territories, with violinist Victoria Yeh and drummer Trevor Maybee. “Victoria and Trevor are former Jazzworks participants,” Kevin points out. “They were in my combo for my first time on the Jazzworks Faculty, in 2002.”
Jim Lewis has just released a CD with a trio including Andrew Downing on bass and David Occhipinti on guitar. The CD is called Bristles. The trio plays Saturday afternoon at Beaches United Church in Toronto, a jazz vespers at 4:30
Jim, who teaches in the Jazz Studies program at the University of Toronto plays Sunday with Andrew Downing, Christine Duncan and Evan Cartwright (whom jazz campers will remember from last summer) at the university’s New Music Festival. Christine's Element Choir is also performing, as is another JazzWorks alum, trumpeter Emily Denison as part of a free jazz and improvised student music group.
Jim plays in Montreal March 15 as part of the FONT festival, featuring trumpet players all weekend then comes to Ottawa April 12 to play at the Fourth Stage with John Geggie, Christine Jensen, Joel Miller and Jim Doxas. That same group plays in Kingston the next day.
When more faculty members weigh in with news of their happenings, I’ll do an update.
JazzWorks entered the new year with its annual general meeting, held Jan. 16. A new executive was elected, with Judy Humenick returning from a leave as president. Charley Gordon returns as vice-president and Ira Abrams as treasurer. At large members of the board include Margaret Cameron, Marylise Chauvette, Dave Finlayson, John Graham, Mary Moore and Ian Schwartz. Lauren Walker has left the board after five valuable years as secretary.
As in past years, much of the focus will be on jazz camp, this year scheduled for Aug. 21 to 24 at CAMMAC in the Laurentians, with the extra days for composers beginning on Aug. 19. Before that will be the second annual Winter Workshop, tentatively scheduled for March, and an Originals Concert, featuring works by JazzWorks participants, tentatively scheduled for May, both held in Ottawa. And, of course, jam sessions continue at the Carleton Tavern, at 8:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month and at 2 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month (except in February when the Sunday jam will be held on the second Sunday, the 9th). More details will be forthcoming soon.
When Jacques Emond died last year, the jazz community lost not only a great friend but a fine radio program. Swing Is In the Air has been on CKCU on Sunday afternoons for as long as I can remember. Jacques had eclectic tastes in jazz and he was not afraid to showcase them on the radio. The current fads did not count for much with him, nor did he pander to his audience. It was just stuff he liked, some of it new, much of it old, and he hoped we would like it too.
When we listen to much of jazz radio now — the dumbed-down programming on CBC2, the increasingly bland offerings on Toronto’s Jazz FM — we realize how much we have missed Swing Is In the Air.
So it was good to get an email from Karen Oxorn, a well-regarded Ottawa singer, reminding us that swing is still very much in the air. Sunday, Jan. 12, is Karen’s first day as one of the rotating hosts of the program, who have kept the show alive since the tribute to Jacques Emond last year. Karen has had a little experience at it, cohosting once with Jacques in a show that was a Peggy Lee tribute. But, she adds, “It is quite daunting to think about doing the show given Jacque’s many years at it and his wonderful connection to his audience through his vast knowledge of the music, the artists and his enthusiasm for them.”Her first play list, available on CKCU’s website, indicates that she may have nothing to fear. It draws on musicians she has seen live, such as Cyrille Aimée and the Surreal Band, musicians whose music she performs, such as Django Reinhardt (Jan. 25 at GigSpace), singers she admires, such as Kurt Elling and Jill Barber, and a healthy handful of top Ottawa musicians, such as Rebecca Noelle and the Steve Boudreau/Garry Elliott duo. The last three are familiar as JazzWorks participants, the latter two as faculty.
“I plan to do a number of thematic shows and focus on vocal jazz,” Oxorn writes, “although not to the exclusion of exploring instrumental numbers. I’ll be looking at the careers of particular singers or songwriters, for example, or maybe something happening around town or new releases I am digging; stuff like that.”
Others in the rotating core of Swing Is In the Air DJs, include Cameron Garbutt and the saxophists Vince Rimbach and Ralph Hopper. Hopper, another former JazzWorks participant, acts as co-ordinator. He was brought in by station manager Matthew Crozier, who knew of his interest in jazz.
In an email to me he said that while he could not claim to have anywhere near the knowledge that Jacques brought to the program, “I think we all hope that our approach would be appreciated by Jacques and his long time audience. I'm sure we bring a somewhat different approach to the program with each of us doing different things. While the show will remain with a 'swing' theme and we do not intend to get into the more 'modern' or 'avant-garde' areas, I'm sure we program things that Jacques might not.”
He added: “Jacques' legacy at CKCU, hopefully, will continue on with the program for many years. It was indeed difficult to come in to do the show after Jacques died but I think he would be pleased with what Swing continues to air each week.”
One intriguing aspect of the legacy that remains untouched is the program’s theme song, a swinging big band track that I always enjoyed but couldn’t identify. I asked Jacques about it once and he told me it was by an obscure European band — German I think. I’ve since forgotten what it was. Ralph Hopper doesn’t know either but, he says, “ I would not have even thought twice about changing the theme!”
The poster pretty well says it all, other than to note that Clayton Connell is an extremely talented piano player who made a big impression at jazz camp last summer. I got a chance to play with him a couple of times and I really liked the mature way he approached the music. He sounded like he'd been playing for 30 years. So, on Wednesday night at Carleton, you not only get a chance to hear Clayton play, you also get a chance to support his music studies in Austria. Sounds like a win-win to me. (For those not fluent in German, by virtue of taking the same university German course three times and almost passing it, I can tell you that Clayton is heading for the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.)
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About this blog
Tune Up won't be a calendar of events — Ottawa Jazz Happenings takes care of that. But it will discuss events and issues of interest to the JazzWorks community. Journalist, author, trumpet player and a jazz camper since 1999, Charley Gordon is a former vice-president of JazzWorks.