Written by: Jay McConnery
Friday evening brought fresh temperatures and electric nerves to the Ottawa Jazz Festival at Confederation Park. The (almost) iconic Joel Plaskett took the stage with a slightly newer version of the Emergency, and wrestled with inconsistencies between his brand of punchy Can-Rock and the intangible expectations of Jazz Festival performance.
It was an abnormally quiet outing. The smaller than expected turnout may have added to the feeling of deflation, but regardless, Joel treated the audience to some acoustic renditions of Thursh Hermit classics, and a cherry-picked a set of hits from his vast catalogue.
Saturday brought excitement in the form of Peregrine Falls- an eclectic duo that brought comparisons to several Ottawa bands, and returning main stage heroes. Headliners Snarky Puppy offered the most impressive set I’ve seen this year, with the 8 piece collective from Brooklyn pleasantly bending minds and winning hearts un-phased.
The set was playful, and masterfully programmed, bounding between complex and dynamic group movements and virtuosic solos and interplay. The set was the best sounding performance I’ve seen this year, with a crispiness usually reserved for smaller venues.
The Laurier stage welcomed Groenland who offered some prototype orchestral indie folk rock, in a dimly let engaging setting. The instrumentation was an nice break from the terse intensity of the Puppy. The audience appreciated the deliberate interplay and dense vocal climaxes.