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Found 99 results

  1. An hour was way too short of a set time for Broken Social Scene to hit their stride at Ottawa CityFolk Festival. Coming off a tour with sets being over two hours in length, the pacing at CityFolk seemed rushed. BSS missed turning what could have been another outstanding show into a quick run through of some of their best material. When BSS are in full flight, they are a jet plane who’s wings are about to come off. There can be moments of sheer chaos, a tearing at the seams, where the music and the band can be falling apart, right up to a cliff’s edge, looking down, taking that last step over the edge to end up where the audience and band are pulled back from the precipice, and then every thing, music, band and audience turn into a celebration of joy and ecstasy. These moments of musical mayhem, come celebration are hard to find in todays musical landscapes. BSS have long been purveyors of risk taking where the potential is great gain, or great loss. It was not from lack of trying or lack of focus, but more of a running out of any more road to drive on. With expectations of band members ranging from a lean six piece to the ridiculous 19 that have graced the stage in the past. A cool 10 piece band emerged on the Great Lawn City Stage. Lead by BSS stalwart guitarists, Kevin Drew, Andrew Whiteman, and Brendan Canning, and supported on the back beat and rhythm machine duo of Charles Spearin and Justin Peroff, they promised that they “came here to rock their guts out (Kevin Drew)”. The female singers were the wild card for the show. Ultimately Amy Millan and fellow Stars and BSS early member Evan Cranley were in fine form. They were joined by new singer Ariel Engle, who with husband Andrew Whiteman (Apostle of Hustle, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir) are a folk duo AroarA. Both female singers suffered from being buried in the mix, and along with other sound issues, every thing seemed to get ironed out by the half way mark. The cacophony of aural riches continued with the addition of atwo piece horn section, and sometime additional drummers. Song high lights included 7/4 Shoreline, Stars and Sons, and the Cause=Time. at his last time through Toronto. A sign that BSS has reached far and wide. A memorable Stay Happy was sung by Ariel Engle, which appears on their latest Hugs and Thunder L.P. However, by the time BSS had to sign off on the show, they were just starting to leave the ground and soar. Hopefully BSS will pass back through Ottawa as they head out on a North American tour. Next time a longer set, smaller venue, and more risk and reward should be expected.
  2. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day Two

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  3. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day Two

    August 19, 2017 Claude Munson There is a new Canadiana sound. Bands like Patrick Watson, Joe Grass, Jesse Mac Cormack and the Barr Brothers share a musical aesthetic that is coming to the forefront of contemporary Canadian songwriting. There is a new generation of alternative folk music that is at a ground swell, and is set to catch a fire in our music scene. Claude Munson fits this bill. The Forest stage was the perfect venue for experiencing him, and his on again, off again fellow band mates. Late summer sun, under a tent, in the woods and loads of fresh air, complemented this early evening serenade. Claude Munson’s travelling floating melodies, were enriched with a alto voice with a subtle trumpet quality to it. Both Claude’s band and his voice were fluid, and charming. The band hinted at being able to extend the music into swelling and crashing jams, but held back most of the time. Accented by some killer slide on a fender strat guitar, a Canadian made Godin hollow body, and a vintage sound coming out of Claude’s own red top Harmony Rocket guitar (amazing to see this guitar, and equally amazing to see it stay in tune for most of the show), the sounds were rich and warm. It’s a shame the band didn’t step out more, it was clear that they had enough depth to drive the well crafted songs to the limit. The back beat was muted by some red cloth on top of the drums to dampen the sound. The result was a magical blend of subtle sounds supporting an incredible voice. Harmonies of Stefan Stevens, Half Moon Run, and Barr Brothers abound. Fluid and silky. Photo: Jimmy Skyline Future States Again, being unfamiliar I came to this Barn stage performance with little expectation. What I got was a lush psyche pop sound. What I left with was a band who is looking back as much as forward. A Sixties sensibility of pop psyche, and complex four part harmonies, paired with layers of swirling guitars and keyboards. Sometimes quite trite melodies were followed by huge musical blowouts, giving an indication to the ground that Future States walk on. Evidently playing with a new drummer, they didn’t seem to miss a beat. The Barn was packed for their show, and some rabid dancers help lift the energy. The end of the set had every one pushed forward to the front of the stage, which must have been a relief to to Chuck Bronson as he started the show by asking people to come closer. They are touring around now in support of their record “Casual Listener”. Photo: Jimmy Skyline Deerhoof Rolf Klausener came out to introduce Deerhoof. He told a story about passing on seeing them in the mid 1990’s, and regretted it as it took another 15 years for him to catch them live. I have a similar story. I have missed Deerhoof by a hair many times over the near three decades of this legendary band. A band that defies description, that should have never survived, a band with out a leader, a band beyond description. There is too much to recap of their storied history. I am just thankful that Deerhoof came to town and slaughtered. Yes, slaughtered. Maybe I would have a more measured reaction if this was say the early 90’s when there was so much unstoppable creativity in the music scene. Or maybe I am missing my youth, where you could see just about any band tear it up and leave no prisoners. But Deerhoof exceeded my expectations. In a music fest that clearly had a particular curated sound, Deerhoof was the glorious exception to the rule. Born out of San Fransisco around 1995, a more singular ambitious art project to survive this long is nearly unimaginable. It felt fresh. It felt honest. It felt undeniable. It was relentless and punishing at times. Driven hard by the intertwine of the two guitars, chasing the lead lines in unison, then pulling them apart in angular, rhythmic directions. John Dieterich and Ed Rodríguez kept the guitar mayhem alive, as Greg Saunier pounded out the drum lines. A real heavy hitter. Greg took to the microphone a couple of times. His surreal story telling is improvised, and on this occasion he marvelled at the bands rider request for a carrot. Of coarse, Arboretum will be the only venue that could supply a perfect purple carrot directly from the ground. He said, “We got carrot straight from the ground from the venue.... backstage after show, there is a reward of a purple carrot,…. unless the other bands are eating it now.” Greg along with Satomi Matsuzaki on vocals are all thats left of the earliest stages of Deerhoof with John joining in around 1999. Satomi is a force of nature. Her diminutive size lies in contradiction to her massive stage presence. She has a timeless, ageless beauty. Her energy is infectious, playful and alluring. She danced, hopped, bounced, and hand jived to the angular musical structure, while sing over top beautiful and joyous melodies. Beefhartian at times, with a similar love for the poetic and absurd, in a word Deerhoof were crushing.
  4. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day One

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  5. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day One

    August 18, 2017 Cadence Weapon Edmonton’s Roland Pemberton III, offered up a blistering hip hop set. Never taking himself too seriously, and clearly enjoying the vibe of the forest stage, his smiles were a counter point to some of the most astute lyrics in rap today. He’s got game. Although he was personable, understated (rare in the hip hop genre), and charming, his words were full of insight and social commentary. His diction was perfect, with rapid fire vocals not getting lost in the DJ’s beats. Perhaps, hip hops urban element was a bit misplaced with the farm atmosphere, but his clear strong voice carried rhymes that were melodic and varied. He took the mick out of some of rap’s more universal cliches like call and response, and the hilarious “wave your hands in the air, so we can pretend we are at Glastonbury.” A great start to the festival, especially after the underwhelming Un Blonde set. Photos: Jimmy Skyline Isaac Vallentin Even though he is from Ottawa, Isaac was not on my radar. Isaac seemed right at home, playing off the floor of the barn stage. Pushed slightly off to one side and framed by the old barn board and canoe he seemed to reflect a level of song craft found in the back rooms of Canadian bars. Wit and witticism came flying out of smart, tightly written melodies and serious hooks. Paced by indy guitar, a rich darkly toned voice, and cutting keyboard his songs seemed familiar, even though it was the first time I heard them. Infectious songs, all about song craft, smartly dressed melodies, and undeniable hooks. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan In terms of this festival, I only have two of the artists in my record collection. Along with Deerhoof!, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan are the only performers that I was familiar with. A near impossible to describe mash up of musical and cultural stylings that are a rare and refreshing musical endeavour in a land of mediocracy. I was a little worried about how their distinct studio sound would translate to the stage. A six piece touring band, complete with Kabuki type face make up, pounded out a set in a self described “Noh Wave” musical style. A contemporary opera, fusing metal, noise, folk and disparate elements of east meets west. I took zero notations during this performance, which speaks to their ability to immerse the audience into another musical journey. Yamanaka is sometimes characterized as a “conquer of Death”, with in certain schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Just like this lord of death Yamanaka//Sonic Titan played fearlessly into the night. Not to be missed. The forest stage was the perfect place for their brand of mystical performance. Captivating. Le1f Khalif Diouf, was provocative and gorgeous. This prince was commanding of everyones attention. Starting with a stage bathed in blue, his cape and hood framed a generous 6ft frame, with a bejewelled appliqué wife beater and spandex short pants body suit. Pushing the limits in the NYC hip hop scene, Le1f drew from rap, reggae, and EDM to spin a cycle of highly sexualized songs. Prancing, gyrating and vogueing his way through his set, he was teasing and playful. As the stage lighting went from blue to red, things started to heat up. At one point stripping down to just the spandex, tossing his cap and muscle shirt, he teased, “OH, you like that!”. At another point, Le1f crouched over a tall women, and simulated kissing and other sexual overtones, never appearing to threaten, but more of a celebration of hedonism. Provocative and confident, with rapid fire rants, and temptress attitude, Le1f dropped mad, disparate, and disjointed beats, similar to Cakes Da Killa. Occasionally, the flow was broken by Le1f pulling up the DJ’s beats and restarting the songs, but what was lost in flow, was made up with humour and charm. Claiming to have been awake since 4 am, his loss was our gain. Clearly, this didn’t slow him down as he leaped, danced, and vogued into the night. Wake Island A Montreal come NYC based electronic duo, of Lebanese musicians Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal rounded out the first night for me. I can say that EDM holds little interest for me, but i was making connections to the early days of New Order who filtered their music through the Hip Hop/ Rap/ Graffiti culture of 1980’s NYC’s through their English upbringing (Power. Corruption and Lies era). Here, with Wake Island I came to understand the same filtering process, one of blending Montreal, NYC, Lebanon, and Euro Trash influences to a highly danceable, melodic, and engaging sets of beats. Infectious and dancea
  6. Arboretum Festival Photos: Jimmy Skyline Music and Food. I have spent my life dedicated to these two pursuits. These are the cornerstones for humanity. They distinguish us from the kingdoms of other animals. Before words, it was music and food that established the constructs of human culture. These are the parts of culture shared by all peoples, of all times. They are pre-language. The modern celebration of these noble arts is everywhere, but seldom are they the focus of a singularly well-planned event. The Arboretum Festival held on Rideau Pines Farms took it’s first steps of transforming it’s illustrious past into a forward thinking celebration. Quietly, Arboretum has left the confines of the Ottawa cityscape to the pastoral landscapes of a well established farm and country side. Last year, Arboretum held a sprawling 68 band festival, with workshops and chef’s in tow, to a much more downsized, intimate, and joyful festival tucked just outside of Ottawa, in North Gower. Rideau Pines Farm has been a family owned and operated Fruit and Vegetable farm for over 30 years. The Vandenberg family rescued an abandoned dairy farm and turned it into a pick your own fruit and vegetable haven. Today, Rideau Pine Farms services fresh produce to the finest restaurants in Ottawa. Some of the best places to eat in Ottawa, take daily deliveries from the farm. At one time, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Ottawa was a food waste land. Nothing of any real consequence was going on in terms of food dynamics. As a chef myself, it was the main reason I left the city. If you wanted to cook on a serious level, Ottawa was not the place to be. Little did I realise that at this time, some of the foundations for the vibrant food scene that we enjoy today were being laid. Slowly, what has emerged is a vibrant, locally driven, food culture that has entrenched itself deeply enough to be the new rigour. Most festivals have woken up to the importance of food in relation to music. More and more variety is offered on festival sites. Arboretum takes this to the next level. The number of food vendors were small at this years fest, but you could just as easily make your way into the extensive gardens to pick your own fruits and vegetable, or journey up into the farm’s store front market to buy local honey, maple syrup, and a wide variety of super crisp and fresh produce. The on-site vendors included late night superstars Two Six (Ate), House of Targ’s Pierogies, Sea Sells Sea Shells Oysters, Elliott Gosselin’s Great Glebe Garage Sale Taco’s, and Dash Mobile Cookery Truck. There was some super fresh corn on the cob, that could be washed down with a fine selection of Beyond the Pail Ale, Top Shelf Distilled Spirits or followed by an on draft Buchipop Kombucha. My personal favourite was the Blue Barn Roasters whose hot or cold locally roasted coffee kept me going over the weekend. The vendors were rotated out over the weekend, and depending on the time of the day the selection varied. The longest lines were reserved for House of Targ’s 9 pm to 2 am pierogi blow out. Having the late night sweet spot on Saturday proved to be the only line up of the whole weekend. The festival was kept to a perfect number of attendees, which allowed a smooth transition from stage to stage, and a real feeling of hanging-out-with-friends vibe. Smiles were everywhere. The crowd that gathered were in high spirits, where kindness, and courtesy was the rule and not the exception. This felt like a house party, more than a festival. The change of venue made for an audience that really wanted to be there. A bus shuttle service from city centre helped the mostly millennial crowd have access, with no need for a car. The shuttle service was a great success, and organisers should be honoured for this forward thinking approach of how to get people around safely. The venue has a “build it and they will come”, past. As with any destiny, the right forces needed to partner up to make the best out of disparate talents. The last great unforgettable ice storm made ruin on the farm of a section of great red pine trees. From this loss, Matt Vandenberg (one of the sons of Rideau Pine Farms who started working the land at 3 years old), chopped, milled and constructed what was the structural foundation of the event sight. Out of these trees came an incredible bar, stage, and other small outhouses. Tucked off the road, and beside the open fields, was a concert venue as intimate and as inviting as you can imagine. The main stage easily held the festival goers, and was framed by the handcrafted bar on one side, a small group of trees on the other, and food vendors towards the back. Another sitting area that doubled as a outdoor late night movie theatre was a few feet away. The landscape throughout the farm was accented by temporary architecture and whimsy, especially striking were the floating umbrellas hung from the trees. The second stage was a second floor of a barn that was beautifully lit by the suns rays pouring in from between the opened slats of the aged barn wood. The third stage was tucked well behind the farmhouse, down a long path that opened up to a pond. The Pond stage had to be put on hold as the rain soaked land would not have faired well with all the foot traffic. This late night stage performances were transferred to the “After Party” on the main stage. A wonderful aspect of keeping the number of performers to a reasonable few (about 20 acts), was that the show times were staggered perfectly so you could jump from show to show and not miss a thing. Rolf Klausener, the main force behind Arboretum and his local band The Acorns, recognized the value of Matt Vandenerg’s (and families) work and envisioned a rebirth of the original Arboretum Festival… one built on the notions of intimacy, friendship and togetherness. Pulling back and making a festival smaller may seem to be counter intuitive in a time where bigger is seen as better, but this is what makes Arboretum 2017 such a great success. The music felt like a personally curated show. Rolf was clearly the tastemaker here, with a unity of musical sounds and genres playing out. The aesthetic was personal, and this lead to the feeling like we were at a giant house party. The festival was like a mixtape, driving with the top down along a country road, on a sunny day, with trees a green, and bountiful fields. Along with Vandenbergs opened arm welcoming, a warmer, more personable event could not have been imaginable. In this case, smaller was way better. The Vandenbergs, the musical acts, Rolf Klausener, and food vendors mixed openly with the attendees, the goats, pigs and the chickens. A real scene stealer was the one horned 2 month old baby goat Willy. I found him wandering around on the Friday night show, seemingly undeterred by the people invading his home. After brief talk with Paul Vandenberg, I discovered Willy was an escapee, penned up earlier, this baby goat was ready to get down with the extended family vibes. His compatriot, an older goat Phoebe seemed equally chill, and eventually the two found their way to the front of the farm, and were the unofficial greeters of the festival. Tucked along the fence by the store front the goats held court outside the pen of the most magnificent pig, Florence. This six year old sow was named after Florence the Machine, and recently birthed a set of piglets, all named after music artists and celebrities, like Kevin Bacon, Chris Farley, …. the infectious humour and charm of Matt underlies his love of land and music, as he enthusiastically gave a run down of the farms animals and operations. There are few people in this world that exhume joy and love, and Matt has this in spades. His mother, Barbara, enthusiastically related a story of how an informal meeting between Matt and world famous Chef Jamie Oliver ended up with a day long romp through their farm, complete with television crews catching Jamie Oliver driving tractors, and picking produce. Matt’s infectious personality was undeniable, familiar, and unstoppable. I can only hope that Arboretum will continue along this pathway, and hold more festivals on Rideau Pine Farm. Keeping it small will be a challenge. It is only a matter of time before people start to hear about this great festival’s new direction. In a way Arboretum is going back to their roots, where throwing a great party, with great music, with great friends, was only bettered by an even nicer venue.
  7. Photo: Mike Bouchard A conga line was formed with the encouragement from Cris Scabello. It took over the tent winding and snaking from the front to the back of the tent, and back again. But it was the tiger shirted guitarist and keyboardist Mauricio Fleury that stood out. His sun glasses and orange t shirt with a stunning black guitar and frizzed out hair had him looking like a mid 1970’s California porn star. Way too cool for school. His wiry guitar playing gave them a real authentic Nigerian feel. Near the end of the set Mauricio had a chance to shout out his appreciation for those who help bring Bixiga 70 to Ottawa, with a special nod to the Soul Jazz Orchestra. A few sobering words about the turmoil that Brazill is facing with a near coup d’etat that is taking place against the present corrupt government underlined the thought that music is still a driving social force for brining people together and creating meaningful change. The set list as taken off the stage reads Niran Lembe 100 % /3 Canjira Di Dancer Portal Especial 1000 Vidas Kalimba Primeiramente Bac Boa Morte
  8. Photo: Mike Bouchard More Photos The Ottawa Jazz Festival and City Folk Festivals bookmark the summer for me. It starts with the rush of good weather and sounds of all sorts of jazz, and then the bitter sweet wave goodbye in the fall, with a farewell to the summer festival season at City Folk. The Jazz fest is the crown jewel of Ottawa’s Festivals. It’s for people who really listen to music. Some looking for the strange, some for the traditional. It’s all here, and every year seems to have incredible depth. I’m missing most of this years shows because I travelled to another fest a scant 7 hours away. This year I have to shoot with a rifle and not with a shot gun. I can’t just see as many acts as I should, and hope for the best. This year I have just a couple targets in hand. Shabaka and the Ancestors are one of those targets. Their record, a collaboration between Shabaka Hutchings and a group of Johannesburg based South Africans, has been smouldering on the side lines. Hutchings, has floated around the London, U.K. jazz and electronic scene for a good number of years and is best remembered for his Son of Kemet band, and his work with Mthunzi Mvubu in the Hellocentrics. This outfit, Shabaka and the Ancestorsis only a couple of years old and have one record, “Wisdom of Elders”. This was only released last September. They are part of a swell of young jazz musicians tapping into the past with references to the present and then shooting it out into the either to expand and shape the future. The record has, Shabaka Hutchings (tenor saxophone), Mthunzi Mvubu (alto saxophone), Siyabonga Mthembu (vocals), Ariel Zamonsky (bass), Tumi Mogorosi (drums), Gontse Makhene (percussions), and with Mania Miangeni trumpet and Nduduzo Makhathini Both the trumpett and piano are not part of the touring band. Their absence drives the vibe away from Ibraham’s compositional style of Dollar Brand, and more towards torrents of flow and turbulence in their live sound. Wisdom of Elders consists of a psalm in nine parts and the whole piece was recorded in one day. Rooted in the traditions of Afro Caribbean rhythms and filtered through 21st century jazz composition and musical improvisation, I was expecting more like blowouts, but what i got was more Pharaoh Sanders circa 1970. And that was good. There was a real spiritual element to the band that was present not only in the music but in their presence on the stage. They were listening to each other. And we were listening closely as well.A continous refrain was repeated by the singer, Siyabonga Mthembu, throughout the show. It went something like this (it changes at each show, but more or less is this)… In the burning In the burning of the republic Of the mind and the republic of the heart Coming out to look at this world We need a new people We need new hymns Spoken with reverence and repeated without mercy, the need for new hymns was often followed by poignant epitaphs like “We need to feminize our politics”, or “ The God’s don’t hear our prayers any more”, “ The power is in the people”, “You can not possess land, land possesses you!!!””. This is a call to a greater consciousness, one of vulnerability, and within this a new strength. The idea of using kindness as a weapon. Siyabonga Mthembu singing exemplified the flow and turbulence that fuelled the performance. They were sound carriers, all of them. Standing in bare feet Shabaka would blaze a raging river of runs over a syncopated rhythm section. Other times he would lay sweet melody over the strikingly turbulent alto sax of Mthunzi Mvubu. The red sparkled shoes of Siyabonga Mthembu were traded for just his beige socks early on in the show. Wrapped in a blanket, and wearing a hat Siyabonga brought meditative vocals and raging epitaphs with equal magic. He was as deranged as Damo Susuki was when fronting Can. Possessed by the moment and the spiritual message, he was always in touch, but on the outside, at least as far as he could get away with. This was perfectly explored in “Mzwandile”, which eventually heats up to a fiery and ferocious pace, all the while harbouring the melody explored and echoed by Hutchings and the singer Siyabonga. Everyone in the band got their due. Highlights included a well worked out solo by bassist Ariel Zamonsky (who had a passing resemblance to Phish’s Mike Gordon), whose weathered, and old, beat up body of his stand up bass stood in stark contrast to the updated bridge and neck… very much like his contrasting tonal and rhythmic adventures. The percussionist played back into the groove, exemplified by his patch quilt clothing and Sherwood Forest green floppy felt hat with white feather sticking out from its band. But it is the drummer Tumi Mogorosi who held the band together and pushed it forward. Often chocking up on the drum stick, he used less of the typical soft jazz hands and more like a baseball slugger swinging for the fence. And then, effortlessly, he would tap out a series of triplets crossing his hand in an over and under pattern, making it look as easy as spreading butter on toast. All killer, no filler. The set ran long, with an extra encore added in for good measure, as Shabaka points out, they have traveled a long way so they might as well play another. A disappointingly scant 100 people or so filtered in and out of the tent. Maybe the “late“ night slot of 10:30 and the rainy weather kept fans away, but it was clear that Shabaka deserved more from Ottawa. In contrast to the Kamasi Washington show last year that reached fever pitch, and had frothing at the mouth adoring fans, this jazz performance was mostly attended by those in the know. The crowd gave the band their due, showering them with the appropriate love, but it is my guess that if Shabaka stays on the road, plays where they can, and blowthe doors off of more summer festivals, they would be fitting into the NAC stages by next year. They are set to break out. Powerful playing. Powerful message. They are part of a under current in jazz today. They are part of the new young jazz revivalists. Not so much a definable place, cultureor country, but one more of a river of young spirited sound carriers, who are equally traditionalist as they are futurist.
  9. It's interesting to see a night with a full range of musical styles offering opportunities for some to catch another style of music aside from which they initially intended seeing. This is made possible by the multiple stages, however, conflicting choices like seeing an act inside while another is on the main stage makes it difficult to really see it all.
  10. Photo: Mike Bouchard More photos Setting up soul power band St. Paul and the Broken Bones for opening night of the Ottawa Jazz Festival was a wise choice and those that attended made the correct decision. The 6-piece Alabama soul band has been playing the festival circuit for years. They appeared at the CityFolk festival in Ottawa a couple of years ago to a packed audience inside one of the buildings. It was hot and sweaty that night. This night, was probably perfect weather for an outdoor live music performance. Warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, yet cool enough for lead man Paul Jayneway to wear a thrift store, crooner style red tuxedo. On a land filled with lawnchairs, it must be difficult to encourage people to get up and dance, but it seems that Paul Jayneway knows how to coax a crowd out of the chairs and onto their feet. For much of the first third of the hour-and-a-half set, Jayneway performed as though he had a fully immersed audience. He only needed to perform some stage antics, like hijacking one of the stage props, a huge pole covered in stretchy fabric, pulling that fabric over his head while he continued to sing while sprawled out on the floor of the stage. It was almost like slapstick humour, yet that was the final straw which pull people out of their chill zone into dance zone. Jayneway's vocal range, backed by a super tight band that includes a horn section offered the ability to build the audience into an interactive frenzy. When he had everyone hooked, he kept them there and pushed the energy higher with seemless falsetto transitions that were jaw-dropping. He introduced the band and allowed them to play a little instrumental to show off their skills. They tapped into Radiohead's 'National Anthem' as an unexpected seque. While attendance was mediocre (like way less than expected for Kenny Rogers), those that attended were sure to be talking about opening night with St. Paul and the Broken Bones. It's likely that a large percentage had never seen them until this night, aside from some who may have caught them at CityFolk festival a couple of years ago, upon which Jayneway reminisced on stage. Hopefully, they will be back, and with even more people jumping on-board.
  11. Heady Epic1520990294

    Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Ottawa JazzFest

    Sharon Jones came riding a wave of anticipatory excitement as she strolled on stage at the Ottawa Jazzfest, but not before her backing band The Dap Kings were first allowed to warm up with a few songs. Almost immediately the Dap Kings filled the grounds with fantastic 70's-feel soul grooves. This band can stop on a dime and appears to be led through the optics offered by their bass player, Bosco Mann and the man he most certainly was. He held that pocket much like would in his heyday. I kept watching the fingers he would count out and the signs he would flash at the guitar players or the horn section but I could never figure out what he was conveying. I suppose I should give props to whoever the Blue Jays employ as their sign stealer.By the 4th song I was completely enamoured with the Dap Kings. The 4th song brought more of that deep groove soul and becamea crowd clap along that slowly snaked it's way into something that could have been performed at a Marvin Gaye dance party. For a moment I forgot Sharon Jones was even going to come out but she eventually did to a wonderfully spoken intro from Binky Griptite during rapturous applause from a focused audience. I wouldnt be surprised if anyone told me they felt like they were in the church scene from the movie with pastor James Brown speaking to the congregation from the alter.If You Call showcased Sharon Jones legendary status while proving not even chemo treatments were going to slow her down. The energy her and the Dap Kings created just seemed to build as the set progressed and culminated in a jam that focused on her introducing each member of her band who then would be offered a short solo. She certainly seems to love performing in front of them and who could blame her? This is a total powerhouse group. Towards the call for the encore Sharon had briefly left the stage and Binky again interacted with the crowd egging everyone on to offer more love through yells and applause which was certainly palpable even though this was one of the smaller crowds I have ever been a part of at Jazzfest. "Ottawa, you just got your ass kicked by a 60 year old cancer patient. How does that make you feel?"
  12. John Scofield can be seen perform in many configurations and styles like Funk and Soul-Jazz, or joining Phil Lesh and Friends, Medeski, Martin & Wood for tours. He brings a hell of a lot of skill to those acts which comes from a place which he invited everyone to at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on Saturday night. He's fundamentally a master jazz musician who happens to have figured out the guitar in ways very few have achieved. This is why he spent much of his career as a sideman for legends like Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and Chet Baker. He's formed many trios and quartets as well, one in the 90's that included saxophonist Joe Lovano, who joined him in his quartet this evening along with Ben Street (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums). This was some hardcore jazz, and was nearly a masterclass of comping, arpeggios, and improvisation if one was able to pay attention and take notes, that is. Tuning in to John Scofield while Joe Lovano was working a solo was absolutely fascinating. The tremendous amounts of voicings used as he maintains or even directs the flavour of the runs by Lovano is difficult to comprehend. Scofield's Ibanez has that lovely vintage pale yellow hue applied to the white stoke around the body. It's obvious that he's been driving this thing for many years. It's hum could be akin to how car enthusiasts describe how the engine of a hot rod sounds. "Listen to that thing purr". His guitar is a hot rod indeed and he knows how to take the audience for a thrilling ride. The room was extremely appreciative of all the musicians as they took turns around the track. John might take lead, and pass off the baton to Joe, Ben and then Bill. It's a blast to watch such talented musicians having fun together, effortlessly jamming some extremely complicated measures while smiling across to each other.
  13. The Barr Brothers were in town for another sold-out show at the Ottawa Jazz Festival inside the 190 seat NAC Studio on Friday night. The anticipation was high with bronze pass holders lining up as early as 5pm to ensure entry. Single ticket holders have priority after-all. Having unfortunately missed it, news came out early on saturday morning they would be doing another set at noon in the Tartan Homes stage for the "Mystery Show" which is new to the Ottawa Jazzfest so there was some consolation to catch them before they left town.. This show was also considered free so everyone was welcome. They played a short, energetic set to the approximately 100 or so that managed to hear the news. It was pretty intimate and a great way to catch them on a saturday afternoon. Little Lover Valhallas Come in the Water Half Crazy How the heroine dies (thanks Phorbesie!) Love Ain't Enough
  14. Go here for more photos 20 minutes after the soft-opening of the 2016 edition of the Ottawa Jazz Festival kicked-off, the first song of nearly a 2 hour set by Kamasi Washington and his dynamically led band had finished their first number. Kamasi thanked and welcomed the crowd to tremendous applause, and began his evening long pattern of personal storytelling. Of how he met each of his band mates, how they affected him musically, and why they are here. “ It’s not what you have in life, it’s what you do in life that’s important ” He introduced a song that he wrote about his grandmother while also inviting his father, who "taught me everything I know" to the stage. Kamasi mentioned that his mother always said "It's not what you have in life, it's what you do in life that's important", and he followed that theme throughout the evening. What he did up until this point was to get real good at what he does. At playing the sax, at composing music, at producing albums, and on display this night, band leading while directing focus on some of the works of the masters in his ensemble. Kamasi told the story of meeting trombonist Ryan Porter back when he was in school. This story described how he heard the most emotional playing he'd ever heard in the hallway. Expecting to find an old 87 year old man who lost 3 wives and 7 grandchildren, he was surprised when he came upon Ryan. He asked "what happened to you man? where's all this coming from?". Ryan responded "This morning, I wanted to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Turned out, I was out of bread." That's when Kamasi knew he had to play with this guy. Then he introduced a song composed by Porter and tore the place up. Miles Mosely, who balanced against his upright bass which also sported his Twitter callsign @milesmosely on the massive pick guard, was introduced as the greatest bassist on the planet, "though I've heard there is someone on Mars". Miles was then featured for one of his own songs on an upcoming album "Abraham" (due in September). He started working the bass with a bow, then added some wah pedal (that's when it was evident that he had a string of electronics to play with as well), added a bit of distortion, began shredding a bit, started singing while grooving as the band joined in to complete this powerful fucking jam. It was incredibly dynamic. It started so delicate and quiet and just exploded into fireworks. The drummers were also featured prominently, and both were stars in the stories of Kamasi. Tony Austin as the 4 year-older super cool guy, when Kamasi was only 8 (they watched ninja turtles together), and Ronald Bruner Jr. was the baby prodigy drummer when Kamasi thought his own three-year-old self was the supreme shit on drums only to be surpassed by a baby at a birthday party. "Hey, let the baby play your drums." "Ah shit! no man. He's still in diapers. What if something happens?" Both were given some time together on stage to "talk. as drummers do". Both tossed out impressive solos after passing beats back and forth. The dual drummer setup has been done many times, but these two literally made stereophonic sounds they way they countered each other. Imagine hearing one snare in your left ear, and one in your right, back and forth at differing rhythms…that's what they sounded like, except they had around 30 pieces (give or take) of drums between the two. Kamasi's father, Rickey Washington, performed between Kamasi and vocalist Patrice Quinn for most of the evening. When he wasn't playing flute or soprano sax, he was grooving and grinning to the music. Patrice spent most of the evening dancing and sometimes providing some scatted unison over some of the horn lines. She was reminiscent of a dancing Donna (grateful dead) however, this lady can SING. She performed the song written about Kamasis grandmother, and at least 2 others. One other was called " ", and it actually may have a few times throughout that song and the evening in very complicated ways. Brandon Coleman really filled in the grooves and many times sounded like a funky guitarist on that Nord keyboard or Rhodes maybe. Speaking of guitar, yes, he also picked up one of those keyboards you hold like a guitar. The left hand seemed to be controlling pitch and voicing but it looked alot like he was fingering notes on a guitar. Not sure how that thing works but it was really fascinating. Kamasi Washington's mashup of funk, soul, R&B all rooted with master-level jazz was a super treat. It didn't feel anything like any other night of standard jazz. It was pure spectacle, incomprehensible talent that made everything seem effortless. It was powerful musically and emotionally. If there were no seats, the crowd would have been bouncing all night. Chair dancing came naturally. What he did in life tonight was open the audience members attention up to his ensemble, his history, his family, and where his music comes from, where it's going, and where they are all going. It seems clear that this was a special night and the intimate vibe of a smallish venue may be difficult to experience again as this band leader continues to impress everyone that is fortunate enough to experience him perform.
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