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  1. More photos It seemed like a recipe for a perfectly combined set of music, a mashup of a New Orleans jazz brass band backing a southern gospel vocal group would be a no brainer but the production was a little unexpected. The show was split up like a showcase for bands, which placed the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the start of the show on half of the stage, with 4 vacant chairs on the other half. It appeared like they would be joined by the Blind Boys after a couple of numbers, but this half of the bill were solo for around 40 minutes. They were warming up the audience, calling them to their feet and engaging them to sing along in numbers like "When the Saints Go Marching in". There was plenty of participation from the less than packed audience, and it still felt a little small mostly because the stage was only half occupied. A short break was announced as the Blind Boys would be arriving to the stage soon. When the Blind Boys from Alabama appeared on the stage to the welcoming audience, they also began to perform a set alone on their half of the stage. It seemed like all that warming up from the Dirty Dozen had dissipated and the Blind Boys would need to work the audience back up onto their feet. Eventually, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band exited the stage leaving the Blind Boys to finish the show. There was one of those predetermined encore fake-outs that is always part of the live music formula. Band leaves the stage, crowd screams out for more, band returns acting like the crowd willed them back for more. In this case, the Blind Boys were led through the curtain opening behind the drums and hid for about 20 seconds before reappearing, along with the Dirty Dozen Brass to play one more. This was a fun show loaded with great performances, and it could have hit a larger peak had both bands dominated the stage together for the majority of it.
  2. [caption id=" align="alignnone" width="1024.0] The Roots - Ottawa Jazz Festival 6-20-2015[/caption] More from The Roots The music schedule on Saturday night at Ottawa Jazzfest was one of those nights stacked with performances. Evenings like this can pull in alot of music lovers, and it was very obvious that it would be a busy night, while it was extremely difficult to find parking as early as 7pm within a 20 minute walk to confederation park. This was most definitely due to the fact that Bruce Cockburn was scheduled to play in the Laurier St. Music Tent at 7:30, which brought it one of the largest crowds that's been squeezed in to that stage area. The line to get in was shockingly long, and many people realized that watching from outside the boundary of the fences around the tent would be just as satisfying as being inside, where anyone who wasn't seated in a chair underneath the tent were standing in a crowd struggling to see who was actually playing on the stage. There are those moments where the taller people inhibiting the view would move their head just enough so one could see what kind of guitar Bruce Cockburn was playing. More from Bruce Cockburn He was backed by a percussionist playing some delicate snare with his soft sticks or brushes and an acoustic double-bass to fill in the lows. Bruce was on a resonator guitar, and producing music that is so specialized by his own sound that it is timeless. It was hard to get that intimate show feeling while not having a spot within the tent. There is an odd change this year to the atmosphere of that stage. The north side of the tent used to be wide open to allow people to spread outside of the tent perimeter on both sides, however this year, one side is closed shut which creates a very unbalanced overflow on the city hall side. Perhaps the sound of the cars on laurier are too distracting and affect the sound in some way, but it never appeared to be an issue in the past. With 20 minutes left in Bruce's set, the crowd was thinning out as many were heading over to the Main Stage to catch The Roots. The last time The Roots were here, they had put on a high-energy party at the Ottawa Bluesfest. From the moment Black Thought, ?uestlove, Captain Kirk, Tuba Gooding Jr. and the rest of the band picked up their instruments, sticks and mics, they didn't stop pushing the energy limit until their set ended at around 10:30. Their performance spanned quite a few musical styles. Offering up Hip hop, reggae, jazz, rock, and funk, they promoted alot of dancing, and it was great to see the lawn chairs abandoned throughout the set as everyone capable took to their feet. The energy wasn't just in their playing, but is was highly physical. Members shifting positions nearly non-stop around the stage or synchronized bouncing (no trampolines!) which showed off tuba gooding jr's physical conditioning. He must be skipping rope on his off days. More from Reuben and the Dark Following this heavy dose of energetic music, a pretty large crowd was forming in line outside of the Laurier stage while Reuben and the Dark were still working on their soundcheck. For some reason, this show was behind by about a half-hour. By the time they started their set, it was 11pm and they had a full tent, the crowd divided with chairs on one side and fans standing on the other. When people setup chairs in that tent at night, and pull them RIGHT up to the stage, it can really affect the vibe. The previous night, the Soul Rebels slightly shamed those sitting down and challenged everyone to get up. Reuben didn't really play the kind of grooves where sitting feels out of place, so the integration of both camps seemed fine. While Reuben and the Dark have some very well written songs, it was hard not to lock in on Indie band musical clichés. Their songs have many of the ingredients found in other acts. The pulsing rhythm, reverby supporting vocals, the guitarist/synth/banjo guy, and that "mumford and sons"-esque singing voice kept them from feeling unique and new. was played early in the set, and as an example of this working formula, it's hook is very memorable and will get stuck in one's head for hours after hearing it. Reuben Bullock (aka Christian Bale) is also a very good front man, and displays lots of charisma. They put on a wonderful well-rehearsed performance. and are certainly worth checking out live.
  3. More Soul Rebels Photos The Late Night tent at the Ottawa Jazz Festival is always worth stepping into at 10:30. Nearly every night, there will likely be something that will keep the curious around, wind them up and get them dancing until midnight. Last year a fine example of this experience was Lake Street Dive's set. They literally, not figuratively, promised to "come back real soon". It's been 1 year of that broken promise but don't be surprised to see a band from this intimate party turn up on the main stage on a following year. Snarky Puppy, another plywood-dancefloor shaker from last year's festival were slotted in the same tent, instigated a dance party, while this year they are elevated to the main stage. It's difficult to imagine a dance party anywhere close to what happened in the tent considering a large portion of the crowd have chairs or blankets to sit on. Smash cut to tonight where The Soul Rebels debuted themselves at the Ottawa Jazz Festival scene displaying their lung capacity and power with a full stage of horns. Their set was impossible to avoid dancing to, and those that weren't were encouraged with a few moves from the band. The set was loaded with their own tunes and a dusting of solid covers like the Beatles 'Come Together' the opening cover of while later on, they administered a dose of Daft Punk's . It's a strange feeling to have a deep bass loaded groove going when it's driven by a sousaphone (a tuba that you wear) and recognizing that there is a musician blowing air into it from his freaking mouth. For an hour and a half. How did he not pass out? Around midnight, it was time to say goodnight to the Jazzfest crowd but the audience would not leave without an encore. A few of the horns had already walked off of the stage towards the soundboard. That was a clue that more was in store. They launched into one more funky number, Uptown Funk, and the members who left the stage were walking through the crowd as they played their parts, enhancing the intimacy of the show, and landing a satisfying finish. The danger of missing a show like this is that they will likely be invited back and have their show escalated to the main stage. This is the kind of math one must consider when looking at multiple stages at any music festival. It's wise to pay attention to the side stage or the late show. Any of these acts could become the next headliner and become much harder to get close to.
  4. Ottawa Jazz Scene has a list of the 2015 performers at the Ottawa Jazz Fest, broken down by series. Highlights for me include June 20: The Roots, Bruce Cockburn June 21: Tower Of Power June 22: Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit June 23: Blind Boys Of Alabama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Branford Marsalis June 24: Stanley Clarke June 25: Gypsophilia, Steve Miller Band, Ikebe Shakedown June 27: Snarky Puppy June 28: The Wood Brothers June 30: Jaga Jazzist Aloha, Brad
  5. ! (in other news, Ottawa jazzfest got announced today)
  6. The Charlie Hunter Trio featuring Charlie (guitar, bass), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), and Bobby Previte (drums) returned to Ottawa to play the NAC 4th Stage for the winter edition of the Ottawa Jazz Festival. One might assume a very stuffy and elegant affair because "jazz", this was a seriously groovy hour and a half that made sitting in chairs around candlelit tables very difficult for those locked in. It's also sometimes difficult to remember that this is a trio, when everything coming at the ears appears to be coming from a quartet. It's probably not inaccurate refer to them as a quartet because Charlie, in hipster formal attire ( over dress shirt, 4-inch cuffed denim and workboots), with his custom seven string guitar that features a fanned fret board that allows for multiple scales on each string. It's a bizarre concept to grasp and witnessing Charlie play leads, comps, bass runs AND vocalizing leads all at the same time, perfectly mashing (or 'mathing' ?) the scales into the right place is incredibly mesmerizing. Having seeing Charlie play as a duo previously (including a very intimate performance ), the addition of just one horn extended the range of the jams considerably. Albums like "Gentlemen, I neglected To Inform you You Will Not Be Getting Paid" combine a full horn section which fully punctuates the unmitigated talent happening on the 7 strings. Charlie Hunter is a guitar player's "sploosh". Incidentally, Charlie presents a much dirtier experience in his who should probably be reassembled for the summer time jazz fest…..in the late night tent perhaps! Since this show was the start of a tour, the band had literally just learned the songs together. There were a few moments where Charlie guided the band through hooks and melodies and he was so incredibly animated and vocal when things were on track, which was pretty much during every phrase. The looseness was evident as Charlie would just explode in joyous laughter as things just worked. Looking away or having eyes closed while taking in the live music, it was very easy to picture a bassist, standing behind Charlie, walking up and down the frets. In reality, he is covering that low end groove, completely synchronized with every single lick played with his remaining fingers. It's a fucking freak show of guitar. The trio each had their solorific moments in mostly standard jazz performance slices, but much shorter than one would expect. They always seemed to steer back and integrate into the main avenue of each tune without the focused musician veering off into some strange place and landing back with a big clear finish. That made for some moments of "do we clap for that awesome solo here?" which is never a question in standard jazz trio performances. Because the clapping would clearly interfere with the seque, and repositioning of the jam. It was much more welcome to just let things fall in place. When the trio completed their final piece, there was a ton of energy and an uproarious standing ovation which pulled them back for one more impromptu jam, a jazz standard dessert that provided the slowest and sweetest pace of the set.
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  9. MORE PHOTOS It can be a very satisfying experience to catch a live music act like Lake Street Dive in the OLG After Dark series tent at the Ottawa Jazzfest, and this night blew way past any expectation or anticipation held from checking the band out on Youtube, or even listening to their tracks on services like Rdio in advance. Simply filling up a tent to near capacity might seem like a success, but numbers aren't necessarily important for repeat customers. By the end of the show, everyone was interacting with the band and experiencing the same effects of an incredibly well-practiced line-up of talent performing before their eyes. This was evident in the dancing, bouncing, beat clapping in-concert as directed by the sultry vocal lead Rachael Price. Of course at the bitter end, when she offered her thanks to the energetic crowd and promised to return, everyone pleaded to make it happen, with a few ready to throw in the money to book the show. If you have a listen to some of their motown influenced, soul-driven tunes without ever seeing them, you might just think the band would have a set of backup singers, a horn player and one of those drum assistants that cover things like tamourine and cowbell. Seeing them live, you'll quickly find out that every musician is multi-talented and all of the vocal backups are all done by the supporting drummer (Mike Calabrese) and acoustic double-basser (Bridget Kearney). These aren't simple harmonies, , they were a bit busy being the band and are also the kind that separate simple four-piece bands and superhero style talented musicians. Early in the set, it appeared like a few people knew of the band well while the majority were there to discover. When the band attempted to get some crowd clapping going, it didn't pay off right away, but a few songs later, they had everyone at their beckoned call for interaction. There may have been some sing-a-long action too, but seeing alot of live music at Jazzfest in the span of a week starts to play mind-tricks Price had most people melting with her incredibly sexy voice and style, and basically fixated on her while she moved to the music around the stage. One guy compared her to Scarlet Johanssson (probably without ever hearing SJ sing and was actually just referring to a similarity in complexion). This kind of scientifict data was collected under strictly controlled conditions obviously. If the guitarist, Mike "McDuck" Olson, were a super hero, his super power wouldn't be playing guitar, then trumpet, then guitar again, but keeping his sk8tr dude cap on perfectly adjusted to the right without it EVER MOVING ONCE. He may have had on of those food stylists in beforehand to keep it in place, much like they do when they pin burger toppings to the meat for a mouth-watering photoshoot. He had some well placed tasteful licks, while not really needing to be a fancy-pants speed demon. He stayed between the lines expected and needed by the tunes. Calabrese's drumming and vocals were really impressive due to his perfection. His super power would be the ability to continue playing the drums with one arm and his feet, while beating the tambourine with this other hand to his chest, WHILE singing. Maybe that's not a super power yet, but it came to be quite handy. Kearney's Bass and vocals squared off the quartet, and she was equally impressive. A double-bass can seem gimicky to some, but they are usually matched up with a musician that can make them sing, which she did figuratively and literally. While the sound of the bass had those tonal qualities of the acoustic, it was rightfully heavy for the soul induced grooves that got people dancing. It was nearly a two-hour show since they provided an encore until about 12:20 am which included their slowed-up rendition of " ". That song has a very identifyable and hook-important bass line and Kearney pulled it off really nicely for this. Since this was the end, it will hopefully go down as the epic first show that Lake Street Dive performed in Ottawa. It might be lip service to promise to be back, and how great the crowd was, but they will certainly have a guaranteed 200 of everyone there, plus all of their friends, show up at their next Ottawa gig.
  10. MORE PHOTOS Imagine arriving at one of 2 top chefs restaurant with sought after seating and with no idea what you're about to taste for the next hour and a half. The 12 course menu starts with an amuse bouche. One with flavour notes you're not heard in a while and includes a satisfying crunch. The meal continues with some eclectic charcuterie, old moldy cheese and some veggies or flowers or herbs that you've only heard about in passing. Eventually you're led to a dessert that envolopes your tongue and slides graciously down your gullet. That's a long winded way to describe what Nels Cline ( ) and B.J. Novak's dopalganger, co-guitarist Julian Lage's set was like. These two guys pretty much ignored all melodic musical hook rules, meaning they seemed to favoured to play the notes and clashing harmonies that most aren't used to. Something amazing about this was knowing that this wasn't improv, it was composed songs that are difficult to imagine as being repeatable. Yet they are. Nels brought an impressive 16 CD's to sell (come on management! Only 16?) related to this show. It was surprising how little merch there was, but probably couldn't be matched to the live version which really was an illusion of uncomposition. They were amazingly tight considering how many uncovential movements that were happening. There were very rare moments where their eyes met, but they were always musically locked, with the four of them. At least with Julian's eyes, feverishly enjoying what his compadre was doing while he accompanied. This is going to get guitar nerdy. You'd better be sitting down. So for the amuse bouche, they appeared to be screwing around with . Inversions were turning around each other. As they work with the guitar, you just mathematically work out if you hold the pattern. They were embedding the diminished pattern in different ways against AND along each other. It's kinda hard to explain, right or wrong. Just think of how complicated quantam physics are and there you have it. The show escalated to a set of tunes, with names that everyone would want to know where the name came from, on account of them not having any words. They clearly have meaning, you'll never know what they are. All that mattered was that they were pretty much using every dissonant chord, and clashing note they could put together in a string that made sense overall. Every triad had at least one flattened 5th or sharpened 9th, with a smattering of 7ths and thirds both ways. This was a huge main course with lots of flavourful moldy cheese and aged cured charcuterie from parts you normally don't want to know about. Things may clash, but there's always satisfaction. Sorry about the food simile again, but it was palatable. (yeah, that word is a bit of a twist on palpable -- on purpose but with real intention). Nels had found a resonating sound artifact disturbing the moments where silence was part of the recipe and removed a reverb pedal to use the internal amp reverb. It was an 'E' by the way. They had discovered it in sound check earlier, identified the actual note using harmonics on the guitar and rejigged the plugs to get rid of it. It found it's way back and they adapted. The new silence, during the quietly decading finishes became brilliant. Seriously, when it got quiet, anyone in the 100ish crowd sniffing was heard. Oh, and here's a tip, lay off the farting in shows like these. As any good meal eater knows, a great feast includes a sweet, sweet desert. Nels and Julian served that up with completely harmonically satisfying natural notes. This included everyone's favourite C, G, D...you just can't get any better than that. This was the crème brulée of chords and melodies. It's obvious this simile is ridiculous however, it's all about taste. Some dishes taste great to some, and not as much to others. There is no denying that the same is true for music at festivals like all three Ottawa music festivals that take over the entire summer. You never know what you might be missing if you don't at least look at the menu. And here is the carmelized (why won't the simile end?) sugar on top of that extra dessert. Bill Frisell later played the late night super fun happy tent providing the soundtrack to an old Buster Keaton film, Go West. This is absolutely a great trend that started with the performance last year, with With every musician having a display in front of them, they perfectly timed every comedic fall with bass drum hits, or simulated a trianluar dinner bell with cymbal rings. At the same time superfluous harmonic overtones filled the tent. There was one scene where a firetruck was called for and at that very moment, no shit, a siren swelled by, lighting up the tent in red white and blue lights as it continued down laurier street. Isn't it possible that was planned? Syncronicity managed to dominate the stage from this point on. Watching a silent film that the Frisell ensemble pretty much directed the audience to, told a story. A dufus who finds his way onto a ranch before the internet, seems to be looking for something, falls over shit, told to brand a cow to which he magically pulls out a shaving kit (did people carry those back then?) and SHAVES the brand into the cow (ok for you PETA?) and continues his way through his adventure, leading an unwilling herd and mutherfucking soundtracked by Bill Frisell....Live, ultimately getting his reward. His cow. Not Bill, the dude in the film.
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