Ottawa Jazzfest - Shows worth catching

Every year, the Ottawa Jazz Festival is generally filled with an overwhelming amount of talent.  Spanning 11 days, it can be hard to recognize enough of the talent to be sure that a full festival pass would be worth the cost, or to simply purchase single day tickets for known events.  However, that would be a mistake for any music lover because sandwiched in between high profile acts are always other incredibly outstanding musicians that are available to you every night, not only on the main stage, but occurring at the OLG late night stage and the NAC's studio and 4th stages.  

Here are a few that should help fill those gaps.

Snarky Puppy

June 22

10:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Being a band that originates in Brooklyn nearly guarantees a fantastic show filled with energy injection.   One could be slightly relaxed, wondering what they are about to experience when all of a sudden, the universal magic of music takes over.

Snarky Puppy will likely be one of those bands.  From the burrow that aided in the evolvement of artists like Marco Benevento, Medeski Martin & Wood, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, this will probably be an event that everyone will be hopping the shit out of their minds at the late night tent at the conflictingly named Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage.

The Flaps

 June 22

2:00 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Kelp Records is a Canadian label that represents a figurative, not literal, ton of talent.  One of their representative bands, The Flaps are available and performing at an early hour that might be too early for the atmosphere they could be setting at a later hour.  2 pm on a Saturday might be one of the times that people are expecting to not be impressed or engaged, but these guys just might be able to pull it off. 

 

Tedeschi Trucks Band

June 23

8:30 pm

Main Stage

Tedeschi Trucks Band.  Simply put, DO NOT MISS.  Derek, a master slide player, trained for years with the Allman Brothers Band (he tends to go apeshit with that slide) and his wife Susan Tedeschi leads the band with her dirty-ass vox.  They’ve always impressed and powered the crowd when performing at the Ottawa Bluesfest, and here’s another opportunity for Oteil Burbidge's percussive low end to take over alot of feet at this show.

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

June 23

10:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Since this is a Jazz festival, it makes sense to see some big band ensembles.    The Darcy James Argue Secret Society from Brooklyn, NY is an 18 piece version that describes themselves as Steampunk big band.  This description usually involves steam to power things, but here the steam is coming from over about 24 individual lungs, powering a bunch of brass things that make music alone, or in this case, together.

Ensembles like these are the most organized and disciplined groups of musicians you can experience.  Performing in the Laurier Stage (tent!) will mean that the sonic-scape has a huge opportunity to have a positive effect on everyone within the ‘walls’.  As anyone could imagine, the sound engineers mixing will have a helluva challenge to get it right.

Canailles

June 23

7:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

This group of musicians seems to favour instruments that could be played around a campfire. Describable as quebecois bluegrass, cajun, folk, pure music like this, comprised of vocals, accordions, washboards, banjo, acoustic bass, snare, etc are perfectly matched for the Laurier Avenue tent.    

Bill Frisell - Guitar in the Space Age

June 24

7:00 pm

NAC Fourth Stage

Bill Frisell performed a John Lennon themed show last year in the NAC Fourth Stage.  Already understanding that it was a twist on Lennon composed music wasn’t enough to know what the experience would end up being except “amazing”.  Youtube vids teasing that ensemble and set weren’t available, much like this year’s Guitar in the Space Age, but it ended up being a major highlight of the festival.

Shows inside the NAC Fourth Stage are simply beautiful for the most important senses.  From perfectly meshed harmonics and overtones, skin chills, perfect lighting and intimacy, the only senses neglected would have only needed someone bbq’ing some tasty food.  That’s right, taste and smell didn’t apply here.

Elliott Brood

June 24

7:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Another highlight to look out for is the Elliott Brood performance in the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage Tent of Magical Incredible Fun.   Watch the full 20 minute show on KEXP’s Youtube channel for a taste of what they’re like.

 

Go West

Frisell plays Keaton with Greg Leisz, tony Scherr & Kenny Wollesen

June 25

10:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

What’s that?  Two full Bill Frisell shows in one festival?   This one is a no brainer. This clearly appears to be one of those rare opportunities to see an artist perform an entire album.  Go West - music for the films of Buster Keaton was released in 1995.  If this performance follows the type of show like last year’s “Les Triplets de Belleville” which featured composer Benoît Charest and his troupe of foley artists and musicians providing the soundtrack for the movie playing on the screen behind them, expect to see a bunch of Buster Keaton silent films flickering up on stage along with the music.  

Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen because that is complete conjecture.

Julian Lage & Nels Cline

June 25

8:00 pm

NAC Fourth Stage

Having seen Wilco live, or even listened to them, anyone should be aware of what kind of a ballsy and perfect guitar player Nels Cline is.  It’s obvious, hearing some of his leads or chord formations, that he’s well versed in Jazz.  Whether or not you’re aware of him, or even believe that, check out the video and imagine the feeling missing that talent in the NAC Fourth Stage.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

June 26

10:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Their name describes the band almost perfectly.   This is a full-on high energy, growling, big easy style brass band of about a half-dozen (math?) players strong.    This is yet another fabulous opportunity to experience epic proportions of musical pleasure.  Not much can compare to having a band of live brass foster marching, bouncing, and audience interactions.  

10 bucks says the band takes to the grass floor and pulls everyone outside of the tent for a classic New Orleans parade around the City Hall plaza.

Béla Fleck & Brooklyn Rider

June 26

6:30 pm

Dominion-Chalmers United Church

Known as the worlds greatest banjo player to some, and also for favouring playing a custom made electric banjo, the year’s performance at Ottawa Jazzfest is not his first.  Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, have been on the stage here in 2004 and 2011. 

Both of those shows were fairly standard Flecktones shows that would highlight a few of the members incredible skills.  Victor Wooten’s impressive bass solos topped off with a “spin the bass around my entire body” big finisher are a Flecktones shtick along with Jeff Coffin’s “watch me play 2 saxophones at the same freaking time!” solo moment.  Bela would also perform a few songs solo on the banjo, like John Lennon’s imagine.

This year show is very different.  It’s not on a stage, it’s in a church.  The Dominion-Chalmers United Church has been known to host other audibly beautiful performances all taking advantage of the cathedrals natural sonic capabilities.

The 6:30 pm performance is a collaboration with string quartet Brooklyn Rider.  Having recently recorded “Night Flight Over Water”, a quintet for banjo and strings, it will surely be featured within these walls.

Five Alarm Funk

 

June 27

7:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Vancouver’s Five Alarm Funk are setup for another party in the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage generated by a full band of guitars, persuasion, horns, bass, and vocals.  Since the percussion includes congas, the ingredients are complete for a raging tent of dancers.

Lake Street Dive

 

June 27

10:30 PM

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Lake Street Dive, from Boston, are a gorgeous sounding 4 piece that fully succeed in producing some fantastic soul sounds.  Super tight musicians with an unbelievably perfect tone from their instruments and voices are displayed in the KEXP video embedded.   

Again, this is a late night show in the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage That Also Features Non-Canadian Bands.    So save some energy, or drink some, and don’t miss this one.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

June 28

10:30 pm

Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage

Even more brass in the late night tent.  The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is a formation of only brass and horns.  They’ve been hired by some of musics greats including Prince, because he’s the only reference any musician needs, there’s no need to list anymore.