This year's Ottawa Jazz Festival blurs the lines, somewhat, between trad jazz and other genres of music. While this has been the case for some time now with past lineups, this year's smattering of classic rock (Doobie Bros/Bozz Skaggs/Dr. John) blues ( ) folk (Glen Hansard) jazz rap (The Herbaliser) and country (Willie Nelson) seem to dilute a festival that touts itself as presenting the "finest musicians from across Canada and around the world in all genres and inspirations of Jazz". Is it something of a ruse to try to appeal to a wider audience? Is it justifiable due to the already-blurred lines and jazz influences heard in the non-trad picks? In any case I don't think anyone but the most staunch of jazz traditionalists will voice much of a complaint as there is so much else on offer.
Highlights to which I'm looking forward (aside from the majority of the aforementioned acts) include David Murray Big Band (featuring Macy Gray), Wayne Shorter Quartet, that renegade trio- Stretch Orchestra, the Bad Plus (stoked!), and maybe even Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (while Wynton's tone and technical ability are beyond question I don't personally feel like he pushes innovation much. And while there's a certain magnanimity to his embrace of traditional jazz it's hard not to wonder what kind of player he would be if he wasn't Juilliard-schooled and nurtured through his rise in the jazz world. Anyway, it seems like something of a moot point and perhaps an argument best left to Wynton and his peers).
Tin Men and the Telephone are a trio seemingly from the Netherlands. These guys are really interesting- really great rhythm section (from the intricate to the hard-driving), offset by piano that at times uses cool effects. Their live shows often incorporate samples "found in everyday life". Use to aforementioned link to have a listen.
In addition, I think I'll be hitting a few of the following, time allowing:
Gilad Hekselman Trio interesting guitar player.... evokes a spacey, ethereal mood, reminds me of Pat Metheny in his tone.
Brad Turner is a Canadian trumpeter who's somewhat reminiscent of Clifford Brown- solid chops, likes the high registry. Quality compositions.
Django Libre seem to be a local band and sound great without necessarily breaking any new ground. As their name suggests they play "gypsy jazz" made popular by Django Reinhart and Stefan Grappelli- great fun and solid chops.
Spanish Harlem Orchestra- the "Grammy-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra is one of the most formidable and authentic Latin jazz combos"` brings dance-ready rhythms, back up singers and plenty of cowbell. The one will likely be the most danceable acts on the main stage- plenty of flair and flamboyance.
Vic Vogel & Le Jazz Big Band - A large French band that sound like a tipsy stage band with chops. Gritty and energetic, not afraid of bum notes; solid rhythm section with songs full of teasers. If you do go see these guys I challenge you to chug every time you hear another song teased within a jam.