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Ottawa Jazz Festival 2009: Days 1-3, June 25-27, 2009

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Days 1-3 | Days 4-6


John Stetch TV Trio / Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy / Roberta Gambarini
Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio / Jimmy Cobb's So What Band; S.M.V.
The Botos Brother / Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue / Al Green
TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
June 25-27, 2009



As festivals strive to stay afloat at a time when sponsorships are down due to the global recession, the 2009 TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival (OIJF) got a much-needed financial boost from the Canadian government—though the funding came in at the last minute. Still, that added funding, along with the unparalleled efforts of OIJF Executive Producer Catherine O'Grady, made it possible for a triple bill featuring Toronto flamenco guitarist Pavlo, Ottawa's Souljazz Orchestra and trumpeter Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
b.1962
trumpet
to be pulled together in just 48 hours, for a free pre-show on June 24, the night before the festival kicked off officially.

TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival



But even if that weren't enough to make front page news (it did, in The Ottawa Citizen), when the festival line-up was announced back in April of this year, it was already clear that the 2009 edition had far and away the best roster of any in recent years. With an especially strong main stage line-up at Confederation Park (in downtown Ottawa just minutes from Parliament Hill) that includes Dave Douglas

Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
Brass Ecstasy, singer Roberta Gambarini, the bass trifecta S.M.V. (Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
b.1951
bass
, Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller
b.1959
bass, electric
, Victor Wooten
Victor Wooten
Victor Wooten
b.1964
bass
), Gary Burton
Gary Burton
Gary Burton
b.1943
vibraphone
Quartet Revisited with Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
, the Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
Orchestra, Julian Lage
Julian Lage
Julian Lage

guitar
, Al Green
Al Green
Al Green
b.1946
vocalist
, Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
, Chris Botti
Chris Botti
Chris Botti
b.1962
trumpet
, Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, Brian Blade
Brian Blade
Brian Blade
b.1970
drums
and the Fellowship Band, Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
and more, there's something for everyone.



And that's only part of the line-up. At the annual Connoisseur Series, in late afternoon at Library and Archives Canada about a mile away, the festival once again focuses on piano with a series of young pianists including John Stetch

John Stetch
John Stetch

piano
, John Roney and Robi Botos and more established artists including Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
b.1929
piano
. Patricia Barber
Patricia Barber
Patricia Barber
b.1955
piano
and Lenore Raphael, while the Studio Series in the nearby National Arts Centre boasts a roster including a special performance by trumpeter Enrico Rava
Enrico Rava
Enrico Rava
b.1943
trumpet
and pianist Stefano Bollani, along with a wealth of lesser known talent nonetheless deserving of broader recognition.



As if that isn't enough, in addition to daytime programming at a variety of indoor and outdoor locations to feature local talent, the Improv Series brings an experimental edge to the festival at the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage, with double and triple bills including Trio M (Myra Melford

Myra Melford
Myra Melford
b.1957
piano
, Mark Dresser
Mark Dresser
Mark Dresser
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
b.1964
drums
), Andy Milne
Andy Milne
Andy Milne

piano
and Benoit Delbecq Duo, Christy Doran
Christy Doran
Christy Doran
b.1949
guitar
's New Bag and Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher. With a particularly strong focus on jazz that's nearly unmatchable by any other festival its size, it was strong recognition of that singular eminence when, as Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
took the stage on the opening night of the festival, the trumpeter remarked, "It's great to be playing at a real jazz festival."

Chapter Index

  1. June 25: John Stetch TV Trio
  2. June 25: Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy
  3. June 25: Roberta Gambarini
  4. June 26: Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio
  5. June 26: Jimmy Cobb's So What Band
  6. June 26: S.M.V.: Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten
  7. June 27: The Botos Brothers
  8. June 27: Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue
  9. June 27: Al Green





June 25: John Stetch TV Trio



Opening a six-date Canadian festival tour that will see him cross the country from Montreal to Vancouver, Canadian pianist John Stetch brought his touring group, featuring Ithaca, New York-based bassist Nicholas Walker and New Brunswick, Canada-based drummer Greg Ritchie, to the National Library, kicking off the 4:30 PM Connoisseur Series with a program largely culled from his recent release, TV Trio (Self Produced, 2009). Stetch feels that the '70s was "the golden age for TV music" and, while that contention might be arguable, there's no disputing the music he chose to adapt which, even when the actual shows they supported were less than high- grade television, worked well within the context of his complex arrangements.

TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival / John Stetch



There were plenty of "it's on the tip of my tongue" moments for the audience, as Stetch and his trio worked through everything from a quirky rendition of the theme to The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and a George Gershwin

George Gershwin
George Gershwin
1898 - 1937
composer/conductor
-esque take of The Love Boat to a balladic look at Dallas, bright and knotty reading of The Price is Right and fittingly dramatic (and, floridly melodramatic) arrangement of Star Trek.



In covering theme music for The Waltons, Sanford and Son and The Might Hercules, Stetch also broke the program up with three originals. The episodic and appropriately titled "Black Sea Suite" featured an especially impressive, Middle Eastern-tinged arco solo from Walker, and a tough chart that wound its way through multiple meters, feels and keys to make it one of the 90-minute set's highlights. "Oscar's Blue/Green Algebra" was a tribute to Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
but, while the late pianist's inerrant precision and incredible virtuosity were being channeled through Stetch, his playing was original and unpredictable throughout, taking simple motifs and working them until they were stretched beyond recognition: indeed, he demonstrated a lighter touch and penchant for the oblique that incorporated many of Peterson's markers into something more contemporary.



It's a good thing Walker works in the classical world as well as in jazz, as some of Stetch's charts were sufficiently complex to challenge even the most accomplished reader. Walker and Ritchie were often reading (though Walker, remarkably, had a surprising amount of the music committed to memory), it didn't stop them from playing "off the page." Still, while soloing and interplay were a part of Stetch's music, the emphasis was on the arrangements, which were filled with stops, starts and punctuations—a particularly entertaining one being a dark, dissonant chord that Stetch injected at the point in The Love Boat theme where the lyrics are "Love won't hurt anymore."

TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival / John Stetch TV Trio l:r: John Stetch, Nicholas Walker, Greg Ritchie



That ironic sense of humor imbued both the show and Stetch's between-song patter, especially his introduction to the closing Star Trek theme—delivered in his best, over-the-top William Shatner voice. It was a fitting ending to a set that may have leaned largely towards the cerebral, but never lost sight of the fun component.


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