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TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2014, Days 1-2

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2014, Days 1-2
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Days 1-2 | Days 4-6 | Days 7- 9

Joey DeFrancesco Trio / Sun Rooms / Harris Eisenstadt Golden State
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
Ottawa, Canada
June 20-July 1, 2014

Another year, another TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, except to say so would sound dismissive of a festival that, year after year—now, in 2014, in presenting its 34th edition—has managed to address the challenges of festival programming for a musical genre where the majority of the attendees is in the gray hair or no hair demographic.

And it's not been without its detractors; when the festival made the decision in 2011—partly for financial reasons, and partly because it recognized that, in order to survive, it had to begin bringing in acts that would appeal to a broader (read: younger) demographic—to start programming tangential or completely extracurricular acts to its main stage at Confederation Park, there was a lot of noise about it no longer being a jazz festival, because it had deserted its previous purity of programming (for more information, check out When is a Jazz Festival (Not) a Jazz Festival).

The truth, however, is that the Ottawa Jazz Festival has retained its right to "Jazz Festival" status through its rich, varied and almost entirely jazz-centric programming in a number of indoor venues, while broadening the purview of its main stage—which still features some terrific Canadian jazz content, most nights, at its 6:30P:M Great Canadian Jazz series that comes before the Concert Under the Stars main event—to include artists, this year, ranging from Bollywood star Richa Sharma and Canadian blues belter Colin James to (at last!) the Tedeschi Trucks Band
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Tedeschi Trucks Band

band/orchestra
and Daniel Lanois
Daniel Lanois
Daniel Lanois
b.1951
guitar
. Yes, the Concert Under the Stars series also has Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
b.1950
vocalist
and, again on the bluesier side, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, but for the most part this year, once 8:30PM rolls around at the main stage, the content is, at best peripherally related to jazz.

And that's ok, because at the indoor venues that include the National Arts Centre's intimate Fourth Stage, where the Improv Invitational series is bringing a total of 26 shows ranging from the more avant-leaning Sun Rooms and Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State, rising star Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
b.1982
trumpet
and the promising guitar duo of Julian Lage
Julian Lage
Julian Lage

guitar
and Nels Cline
Nels Cline
Nels Cline
b.1956
guitar, electric
, Britain's legendary vocalist Norma Winstone
Norma Winstone
Norma Winstone
b.1941
vocalist
and contemporary style-mashers Partisans
Partisans
Partisans
b.1996
band/orchestra
, to Norway's wonderful Susanna and guitar power trios Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen Trio and Bushman's Revenge, Israel's Anat Fort
Anat Fort
Anat Fort
b.1970
piano
and Shai Maestro, and Swedish/Danish groups including David's Angels and Torben Waldorff Quartet. The program at the Fourth Stage is, this year, so good, that it's a challenge to not just stay there, rather than go to some of the other venues/series on offer.

Like the Studio series at the NAC Studio, a larger but still intimate venue where everyone from organ master Joey DeFrancesco
Joey DeFrancesco
Joey DeFrancesco
b.1971
organ, Hammond B3
, Hiromi
Hiromi
Hiromi
b.1979
piano
, Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
, Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
b.1971
sax, alto
's Gamak, Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60 celebration, Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
b.1963
drums
and Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
will bring projects old and new, and the Tartan Homes Signature series at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, where everyone from The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus

band/orchestra
, Holly Cole
Holly Cole
Holly Cole
b.1963
vocalist
, Bela Fleck
Bela Fleck
Bela Fleck
b.1958
banjo
and Jill Barber, amongst others, will hold sway.

But perhaps the venue with the greatest overall potential to bridge the demographic gap (some might call it an abyss) is the late-night OLG After Dark Series, which brings more youthful groups like the up-and-coming Snarky Puppy
Snarky Puppy
Snarky Puppy

band/orchestra
, The Mahones, DFJ Rekha (continuing the Bollywood theme of the main stage's opening night), Torontonian electronic music scene's Austra, the hip hop- laden, funky and Klezmer-oriented Socalled, seminal N'awlins party band Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
b.1977
band/orchestra
and, a real coup, Frisell performing his music from Music for the Films of Buster Keaton: Go West (Nonesuch, 1995), with the film—something he last toured in 1995 and has rarely been seen since.

If there's anything particularly special about the 2014 edition of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival is that it's clearly redefined itself as a festival whose primary purview is—and always will be—jazz, but is also a festival that is looking to bring other people through its gates, and has become increasingly successful at youth programming that will, hopefully, slowly shift its overall demographic to a more balanced one over time. Only time will tell, but it does appear to be working.

June 20: Joey DeFrancesco Trio

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