2017 Ottawa Jazz Festival Poster

The 2017 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival poster has appeared on the official instagram feed, and it offers a nice round-up of this year's acts.  While the image clearly shows Kenny Rogers and also Hudson (John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski), it won't warn you that both acts have conflicting times on June 24th. So you must choose to either get Kenny off of your bucket list, or have your mind blown by Hudson in the NAC theatre.  Fateful choices.  

A Head's Tale - 2002 Jamband Documentary now on Youtube

A HEAD’S TALE master has been found, digitized, and now for the first time in almost 15 years, released for your enjoyment on the interweb, tweetbooks and facetubes!
Ladies and gentlemen, my very first funded documentary ever...the film that convinced me I could make a living following bands around as long as I was slinging a camera...I hope you enjoy...and share... A Head’s Tale!
— Filmmaker Greg Hemmings

Brian Wilson covering Pet Sounds with Al Jardine - Ottawa Jazzfest

Brian Wilson - Pet Sounds 50th anniversary

Brian Wilson's performance of the epic masterpiece Pet Sounds at Ottawa Jazz Festival didn't open with "Wouldn't it Be Nice" or close with "Good Vibrations" (a song that could have been on the album but is a literal finale to that album's period), it actually opened with "Heroes and Villains" and closed with a strong melody of Beach Boys' early stuff like "Help Me Rhonda" and "Surfin USA".

Pet Sounds is an incredible album and performing it live with the true arrangement wouldn't be possible, but it would be nice. Out of the 10 backing musicians on stage, there were at least 20 or so instruments between each multi-instrumentalist that could setup an infinite amount of permutations.  And they formed the perfect assignments for each track covered with players swapping from horn to guitar, or timpani to marimba depending on the essential demand.  It was tight.

Al Jardine's son also provided some familiarly vocal sound to the mix.  Brian didn't sing lead much, but he never did on the original recordings as he wrote songs like "God Only Knows" with his brother Carl's voice in mind.  But he lead that solidly, and the outcome corresponded perfectly with the song imprinted in the mind with counterpoint in other tracks, both vocal and instrumental, like "Sloop John B" being simply precise.

Pet Sounds is a gorgeous composition but it doesn't inherently encourage dancing, so the centre mass of audience members in lawn chairs would not be pulled out until the encore (after a freaking killer display of "Good Vibrations").  The MC for the band introduced each member, as they returned to the stage and played a different entrance bit for each (kinda like how Paul Shcaffer and the World's Most Dangerous Band would welcome a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman).  Finally Brian and Al returned to sort through some Beach Boys Classics. That's the moment when the lawnchairs were dismissed.

They closed out with Love & Mercy, a song Brian wrote while listening to "What the World Needs Now", yet the inspiration was depicted differently in the brilliant bio-pic "Love & Mercy".

Great finish.

 

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Ottawa JazzFest

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - 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 Donald Duck Dunn 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 Blues Brothers 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?"