Steve Boudreau is a busy guy. One of the top two or three jazz pianists in Ottawa, Steve leads a band hosting the Tuesday jams at the Rochester. He performs with various other groups, including the new Mike Essoudry Sextet, and is in demand by singers, who know a sensitive accompanist when they hear one. He has recorded a beautiful album of original compositions with guitarist Garry Elliott.
Steve plays good bass, when called upon to do so and at one point he was working on trumpet. Scary if he still is.
He also teaches and coaches. Last year he helped with the JazzWorks winter workshop, and he was on the faculty at jazz camp in 2011.
He has a website that is worth looking at, particularly for its blog, which talks intriguingly about learning and practising.
So he’s the perfect guy to be moderating the third JazzWorks Sunday jam session. The first two, led by John Geggie and Mike Tremblay, respectively, got rave reviews for their focus on less experienced improvisers and how they can learn to navigate the sometimes uncertain currents of a jam session. Both by playing and talking, the moderators helped musicians at all levels make sene of the situation.
Steve will continue that process, Sunday, March 8 at the Bluesfest Festival House.
“I feel that jam sessions are a crucial part of a jazz musician's education,” Steve says in an email. “Playing with others is key, but playing with musicians you may barely know is a truly special way that we share this wonderful music.”
Part of Steve’s focus will be on repertoire. “While I came from a classical, music-reading background, I still learned the blues, rhythm changes, and Autumn Leaves fairly early on so that I wouldn't be lost in the page as the music was happening around me,” he writes. “Lately I have been compiling a list from all of the great tune lists out there of ‘must-know’ tunes, which I plan on having copies of for people to take home.”
If you have experienced the freedom of being able to play on a tune without looking at the music, you’ll know what Steve is talking about.
At the Sunday jam, Steve will concentrate on songs everyone knows, the better to focus on other elements of the jam session performance.
“Even in a jam situation where usually the head is followed by individual solos, there is room for the soloist to relate to what the other musicians have played before as well as what they are playing in the present moment. I have several ideas in mind to get people thinking and listening this way at the upcoming jam.”
The Sunday jam runs from 2 to 5 p.m. Bluesfest Festival is located at 451 Churchill Avenue. Use the entrance off Ravenhill.
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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.