I’m going to unabashedly plug a friend’s gig (not to mention unabashedly split an infinitive). I figure that Peter Hum has done so much, through his writing in the Citizen, to promote the work of local musicians that he deserves some promotion of his own.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, the pianist launches his second CD, Alpha Moment, in a concert at the Fourth Stage. I’ve heard the CD and it’s very good. You can check it out at peterhum.com. All the compositions are Hum originals and they vary in mood and tempo, from the soulful Voice From Afar to the spirited title tune. Peter likes odd time signatures, but he also likes pretty ballads and he also likes to just swing. All of that is on the CD. The arranging for a front line of tenor sax, alto sax and guitar uses different combinations of instruments in an intriguing way. And the soloing is inspired. Kenji Omae on tenor alone is worth the price of admission.
Omae is one of several members of the sextet with Ottawa connections. He grew up here and played in local jam sessions as a teenager, before moving to New York. He now lives in Korea.
Guitarist Mike Rud spent several years playing in Ottawa in the early 2000s before moving to Montreal a few years ago. Bassist Alec Walkington grew up here and was a high school classmate of Peter Hum.
And Nathan Cepelinski, on alto and soprano saxes, is also a local guy. In fact, he attended JazzWorks jazz camp as a 14-year-old prodigy back in the Christie Lake days. He now lives in New York and won’t be at the Fourth Stage concert.
Powerhouse drummer Ted Warren has performed here frequently enough to be considered an honorary local.
The Fourth Stage concert is part of a four-city tour that also includes the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill in Montreal on Wednesday, the Jazz Room in Waterloo on Saturday and The Rex in Toronto on Sunday. Thursday’s concert here begins at 7:30. Tickets are available through the National Arts Centre website. See you there.
I checked out the new JazzWorks jam session location on Friday. There’s a lot to like about it. While I miss the Carleton Tavern folks, who were friendly and incredibly supportive of us, I won’t miss the difficult acoustics and cramped conditions of the place. At the Georgetown, the new location in Ottawa South, you can hear and you can move around much more easily.
That being said, attendance wasn’t all it could have been. Usually, the first jam session after jazz camp is packed. This one wasn’t, although there was a respectable crowd. Maybe change just takes getting used to, particularly the shift to Friday night from Thursday. Some potential jammers prefer to stay home with their families on Friday nights. Some potential jammers are just worn out from a week of work. Some potential jammers, probably, just weren’t paying attention.
And maybe some potential jammers were at City Folk, just down the street, listening to Van Morrison. That would explain why there wasn’t a parking space to be found within a 10-minute walk of the Georgetown. For all I know, some potential jammers are still out there today, circling.
For future jams that aspect of life will be easier. Years ago, when the jam session was at the Bayou, a block or so away, parking was never a big problem. The Georgetown is comfortable and the jam session fits well inside it. There is a natural stage area and the sound carries better to the back than it did at the Carleton, partly because the room is more or less square, rather than long and narrow.
I didn't sample the food, but I know there's a deep-fried Mars bar on the menu. Say no more.
As for the jam itself, there was some good playing, and some people who don’t normally participate in jam sessions got up and played. Some difficult tunes were attempted, which is admirable, although not without peril. I added to my list of tunes that are risky at jam sessions — Blue in Green and Lush Life. The first one, with its odd 10-bar structure is just an invitation to get lost and I was one of those who did. The second, with its tough key and complicated chord progression is one you don’t sight-read. There a several false starts, but it came out OK thanks to Mary Moore’s confident singing. I watched that one from a safe distance.
Those reservations aside, there is a lot to be said for getting away from Centrepiece and Satin Doll. The next jam is scheduled for Oct. 16. There’s a football game that night, so you might be circling a bit, but don’t let that keep you away.
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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.