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TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2014, Days 4-6

John Kelman By

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Days 1-2 | Days 4-6 | Days 7- 9

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Bill Frisell Guitar in the Space Age!
Julian Lage & Nels Cline / Bill Frisell Go West
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
Ottawa, Canada
June 20-July 1, 2014

While not necessarily an intentional decision, the next three days of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival were a guitar lover's dream: two performances by festival stalwart Bill Frisell; the return of Julian Lage (by this time, no longer an up-and-comer) in an eagerly anticipated duet with Nels Cline, the more avant-leaning guitarist who has, in the past decade, brought a different kind of edge to alt-country/alt-rockers Wilco; and the first appearance of the Tedeschi Trucks Band juggernaut at the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

There were other performances going on as well, but for three evenings that ranged from hot and humid to an all-day torrential downpour that, sadly, decimated what would otherwise have been a very well-attended main stage show from Daniel Lanois, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival provided the city with a chance to experience some of the finest guitar players on the scene today—and not just the jazz scene: any scene.

June 22: Tedeschi Trucks Band

Since joining forces, guitarist Derek Trucks and singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi have pretty much managed the impossible: create a permanent 11-piece band that has managed to be successful at a time when so many others are struggling, even when touring with smaller, less expensive groups. The costs of taking such a large group on the road are far from insignificant, and that TTB has, against the odds, managed to transcend what ultimately killed big bands in jazz half a century ago is a testament to both the group's tenacity and its ability to attract a broad demographic. While TTB had undeniable appeal to the jam band community, there were plenty of gray and no hairs up dancing to the group's set at Confederation Park.

Trucks—beyond being the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, and beyond beginning to play onstage at nine and tour as a headliner at eleven—is, quite simply, the heir apparent to the late, great Duane Allman, except that with a life that has not been cut short as Allman's was, Trucks has been afforded the opportunity to suggest where the late slide guitar legend might have gone, had he not been killed in a motorcycle accident, just a month shy of his 25th birthday in October, 1971. Trucks—who has, along with Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes, been part of the twin-guitar front line of the current Allman Brothers Band for over a decade—has not just honed an instantly recognizable sound on slide guitar that's as expressively vocal-like as any who's ever come before, but has expanded his purview well beyond the rock and roll/blues vernacular to include hints of everything from jazz to Indian music, the latter demonstrated in his stunning solo intro to "Midnight in Harlem," one of a handful of down-tempo tunes that provided TTB's set with the kind of arc that began with a blast and ended on an even higher note, with plenty of variety in-between.

Both Tedeschi and Trucks had successful solo careers before joining forces, but when they came together—personally (as in married) and professionally—the result was something far greater than the sum of its many parts. Tedeschi has long been considered one of the most significant blues/rock singers since emerging in the mid- '90s, and while she's often mentioned in the same breath as Bonnie Raitt, she's long since transcended such superficial comparisons. Based on her Ottawa show, her grit, range and sheer power were completely her own, whether belting flat-out rockers like the title track to the group's second studio album, Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks, 2013), soul-drenched songs like "Do I Look Worried," gentler ballads like "It's So Heavy," or funkified jams like "Space Captain," the second of two encores.

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