SwingTime, the original group in concert
Sunday’s jam session, May 12 at 2 p.m. at the Carleton Tavern, will be led by Swing Time, a group with a unique sound and approach, as well as some very capable musicians. The personel is as follows:
Janet Hofstetter, vocals and snare
Paul Bourdeau, guitar
Rob Martin, guitar
Ann Downey, bass
Joseph Zulak, violin
Here’s vocalist and occasional snare drummer, Janet Hofstetter, describing the group’s origins and philosophy.
“Swing Time was an idea long before it was a reality. When I met Paul Bourdeau nine years ago, we quickly discovered our mutual love of Fred Astaire and we just starting doing tunes together because ... well, that's what we do.Paul is a very versatile guitarist, with many years playing standard jazz, fusion, original compositions and Django-style hot jazz. But when we starting doing the tunes that we both knew, the repertoire lent itself to a swing style. We liked the sound of Susie Arioli's Swing Band (as it was called then), and it was nice to add the snare to our duo. We always wanted to expand to a nice little unit, but it wasn't until one of Paul's students asked him to perform at a fundraising benefit that we had a push to do it.
“We had met fiddler Peter Dawson at ‘swing night’ which was a regular thing at Rasputin's and later at the Carleton Tavern. Paul and Peter had an instant musical chemistry. We met bassist Jonathan Ferrabee at an event at the Rainbow. He wanted more jazz experience and recognized playing with us as an opportunity to get it.
“Paul's very gifted guitar student, Joseph MacDonald, a musical sponge for all kinds of jazz, had no trouble picking up the very demanding chug-chug rhythm duties in Swing Time, as well as contributing beautiful melodic solos. We were all set.
“That was 2009, and we've been swinging ever since!
"We've had some personnel changes since then. Joseph has moved away to Toronto to develop his talents in a bigger space, and Jonathan has had to reduce his involvement. Peter is still a full member of the band, but because he has a very full dance card we needed to find another violinist to step in when needed.
“This is where JazzWorks comes in. When you need people to be in your band, a JazzWorks jam session is a great place to find them. I loved Joseph Zulak's violin contributions the first time I heard him, and made a mental note to call him. Bassist Ann Downey has all the chops you could ever want and is great singer, too. Plus, she's got an encyclopedic knowledge of many repertoires! And when Rob Martin heard Paul play on a rare occasion when I could get Paul to come to a jam session, they began talking about their mutual love of Django Reinhardt and started to perform together as a hot jazz guitar duo. So, Rob, of course, was the natural choice for Swing Time when the other guitar chair came open.
“Our repertoire includes a lot of happy tunes at a good dance tempo (Aren't You Glad You're You?, Cheek to Cheek), with a few forays into what Paul and I like to call "the mysterious" (Dancing in the Dark). It's a little off the beaten track, but there is something at least vaguely familiar to most people in the audience. Lots of playful improvisation, plenty of fun arrangement ideas. With the depth of talent in this band, we can do a lot with a tune.”
Ralph Mercredi leads the Thursday jam
The regular Thursday jam session, May 15 at 8:30 p.m, will be led by The Ralph Mercredi Quintet
Louis Allard, guitar
Alrick Huebener, upright electric bass
Dave Finlayson, drums
Derek Smith, trumpet
David Fraser, tenor sax
As a public service, I can reveal that there is no such person as Ralph Mercredi — at least, I’ve never seen him at a jam session. What I do know is that the five musicians you will hear at next Wednesday’s jam session regular rehearse on Wednesdays at a house on Ralph Street.
For further information, I quote the group’s spokesperson and bassist, Alrick Huebener:
“The Ralph Mercredi Quintet (RMQ) is a jazz collective that has been blowing, strumming and thumping out jazz for about nine years. Their repertoire is an ever-changing mix of jazz standards, modern and original tunes which members bring to the band because they simply like them or see them as vehicles for creative expression or musical exploration. Occasionally, this includes jazzifying tunes by Johnny Cash or others outside the jazz canon.”
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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.