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Live Reviews

2013 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival: Ottawa, Canada, June 21-26, 2013

By Published: July 1, 2013
The highlight of this brief encounter was Hekselman's performance of "Nothing Personal," written by the late pianist Don Grolnick
Don Grolnick
Don Grolnick
1947 - 1996
piano
and first appearing on (also deceased) saxophonist Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
's eponymous 1987 Impulse! Records debut. The tune has since gone on to become something of a jazz standard, performed by everyone from drummer Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
and vibraphonist Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
b.1973
vibraphone
to pianist Joey Calderazzo
Joey Calderazzo
Joey Calderazzo
b.1965
piano
and drummer Joe Morris. Hekselman's version was relatively faithful in structure, with Rosato anchoring the tune with its signature bass ostinato, but the guitarist took the familiar melody and, while not losing sight of it, extended it into something a little knottier and elliptical.



The trio, situated very close together on the larger OLG stage, was clearly about communication, with both Hekselman and Ballard facing in towards Rosato, standing roughly in the middle. Ballard was as relentlessly inventive as ever, a fountain of ideas as well as a focal point for his trio mates. There was a constant sense of push-and-pull amidst the trio, even when there were delineated solos. It was a powerful but, sadly, brief chance to hear just how far Hekselman has come in four years; hopefully the next time he comes to Ottawa there will be the opportunity to catch a full set.

June 26: Steve Kuhn/Steve Swallow/Joey Baron

With June 26 the last day of coverage for the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, there couldn't have been a better way to say goodbye to the 2013 edition than an intimate evening with pianist Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
b.1938
piano
, electric bassist Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow
b.1940
bass
and drummer Joey Baron
Joey Baron
Joey Baron
b.1955
drums
. The trio came together in the fall of 2011 to record Wisteria (ECM, 2012), the pianist's follow-up (with the exception of Baron, featuring a completely different lineup) to his critically acclaimed Mostly Coltrane (ECM, 2009). It was the first time that septuagenarians Kuhn and Swallow had recorded together for ECM since Trance (1975), the pianist's ECM debut, and if, at their Ottawa performance at the National Arts Centre's Studio, they were moving a little more slowly to their positions on the stage, and showing considerably less hair (with, perhaps, the exception of Swallow's impressive eyebrows), a lot more gray and far more wrinkles, the instant they began to play the years melted away.



Joey Baron
Joey Baron
Joey Baron
b.1955
drums
may be the puppy of the group (this performance falling precisely on his 58th birthday and, with his almost always shaved head, styling perfectly with the rest of the trio), but since first appearing in the late 1970s/early '80s with artists like pianists Enrico Pieranunzi
Enrico Pieranunzi
Enrico Pieranunzi
b.1949
piano
and Fred Hersch
Fred Hersch
Fred Hersch
b.1955
piano
—most importantly, however, truly emerging as the drummer in Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
's first touring band, recording 1987's Lookout for Hope (ECM) and remaining with the guitarist for the better part of the next decade—he's gone on to become a first-call drummer in diverse projects ranging from saxophonist John Zorn
John Zorn
John Zorn
b.1953
sax, alto
's flagship Masada quartet and guitarist John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
b.1944
guitar
's recent ECM quartets, including 2012's Within a Song, to avant-songsmith Laurie Anderson and guitarist Jim Hall
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
1930 - 2013
guitar
, whose Live at Birdland (ArtistShare, 2013) was further evidence that even for octogenarians like Hall, age doesn't matter.

The trio's set ran just over 90 minutes, including a well-deserved encore of "The Zoo," heard recently on Sunnyside Records' The Vanguard Tape (2013) but, in that version, without Kuhn singing, tongue planted firmly in cheek, the words he originally wrote for Sheila Jordan when she first sang it on Playground (ECM, 1980), one of two records they made together for the label, but the only one included in the Life's Backward Glances—Solo and Quartet (ECM, 2009) box set. In Ottawa, when he sang the tune as it drew to a close, he even took advantage of a little Français, singing " pourquoi, rather than "why," much to the delight of the packed house.


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