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Live Reviews

25th Ottawa International Jazz Festival - Day Ten, July 2, 2005

By Published: July 4, 2005
One can't overlook the amount of work Cho has done to bring this show to fruition. Transcribing the Birth of Cool charts himself, he's done a remarkable job of recreating the vibe of the original. And his own composition, "Impressions and Fugue in D Minor, surprisingly married the music of Bach and Coltrane, providing an opportunity for everyone to get one last solo in before the show was over. Once again Magner—this time on soprano—and Roney were spot on, both taking solos that said all they needed to say, despite their short duration.

Cho has plans for even more ambitious projects in the future: Suite Freedom, planned for February of 2006, will see a 25-piece ensemble tackle Coltrane's Africa/Brass and Ellington's Liberian Suite. He's certainly creating a buzz on the local jazz scene. And it's great to see local artists getting exposure, not only on the smaller off-hour stages, but also on the primary ones as well.

For the fifth year, Galaxie, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Continuous Music Network that delivers 45 commercial- and talk-free stations through broadband cable and satellite, has collaborated with the OIJF to bring some of the country's brightest young players to Ottawa for a week of intensive study with saxophonist/pianist Rob Frayne and bassist John Geggie—two of Ottawa's most illustrious artists and music educators. The week always culminates in a main stage performance on the last Saturday night of the festival that is well worth seeing, with at least a couple of players invariably making it clear that they'll be heard from more in the future.

With players from across the country—Halifax's Galen Pelley on drums; Montreal's Richard Rosato on bass, Jacob Henry on trumpet, and Colin Power on alto saxophone; Toronto's Allison Young on alto and tenor saxophones and Daniel Jamieson on alto and soprano saxophones and flute; Peterborough's Jonah Cristall-Clarke on piano; and local guitarist Lucas Haneman—the Galaxie Jazz Youth All-Stars put on a strong performance of known material cleverly arranged by Cristall-Clarke, as well as original compositions from Frayne and a surprisingly mature piece from Power.

The remarkable maturity demonstrated by these players, still in their teens, provides assurance of a future for jazz in more than capable hands. While Rosato had the occasional intonation problem, he more than made up for it with a rich tone, imaginative lines, and big ears. Cristall-Clarke was also impressive for his modernity of musical thinking, as was Power—a creative player whose "Qwigybo, named after a word created by Bart Simpson in a scrabble game, provided an especially strong vehicle for Haneman, a guitarist with an almost frighteningly broad stylistic reach and tone that ranged from clean and warm to distorted and aggressive.

Most impressive about the whole ensemble was its clear sense of "going for it. These weren't unformed players tentatively trying to navigate the sometimes complex material; a clear sense of engagement permeated the hour-long set, marked by total commitment from each and every soloist. And while all of them have bright futures ahead of them, we'll be hearing more from a few in particular—specifically Rosato, Cristall-Clarke, Power, and Haneman.

Following the performance, two awards were presented to the Galaxie Jazz Youth All-Stars: a scholarship award and the Bill Shuttleworth Fund Award—both to be applied to the recipient's study of choice. This year was unique in that both awards went to a single recipient—Lucas Haneman, whose improvisational acumen, intuitive breadth, and exploratory spirit made him the clear choice.

Following the Galaxie Jazz Youth All-Stars performance and awards, the jazz festival also presented its Award of Distinction to two recipients this year—Gaby Warren, whose contributions in a variety of roles have been exemplary; and Joe Reilly, an integral part of not just the OIJF, but the entire music scene in Ottawa, providing programming expertise to events including OIJF and the city's annual Tulip Festival, in addition to all manner of significant media work.

Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers closed out the night, a perfect way to celebrate the success of both the OIJF's 25th Anniversary and the Galaxie Jazz Youth All-Stars. They may not be boundary pushers, but Pucho and his nonet know how to put on a show that's impossible to resist. Many people were up dancing, with the rest hooting and hollering in appreciation of the group's talented players.

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