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TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2017

John Kelman By

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There's more. The Great Canadian Jazz Series is set to feature, amongst others: guitarist Alex Goodman; Gypsophilia; bassist/singer Brandi Disterheft; JUNO nominee Peripheral Vision; saxophonist Joel Miller, making a return to the festival after a compelling 2012 quartet set; and In Orbit, the collaborative trio featuring Bela Fleck and the Flecktones' saxophonist/flautist Jeff Coffin, Canadian guitarist Michael Occhipinti and bassist Felix Pastorius , son of the late, great bass icon Jaco Pastorius. There's also an evening where the TD Jazz Youth Summit—a collection of young, aspiring jazz musicians from across the country, who have been brought to the TDOJF for a week of workshops—get to perform on Confederation Park's main stage, in front of a large crowd.

And this is far from a complete list of the jazz events coming to the 37th TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. There are gigs for local acts at the Tartan Home Stage and new Confederation Park fountain at 11AM and 1PM most days and which, in addition to the Canadian Main Stage series, provides a chance for Ottawa musicians to be experienced in the context of a major festival.

And it's a festival that continues to be one of the very best values around, with its premium Gold Pass (which provides access to virtually every act in every venue across the 11 days for those over 25) costing a mere $327; and the less expensive (and slightly limited) Bronze Pass, coming in at $199. Single day, all-access passes ranging from $40 for the under-25s, to $50 for general audiences and the $70 platinum ticket, which provides for designated and guaranteed uncovered seating in the first few rows at Confederation Park; there's also the Platinum Pack, which allows fans to choose three separate Platinum tickets for a reduced price of $172. It's hard to find a better range of deals than that.

The festival has, indeed, brought an even greater focus on Canadian acts this year—a function, no doubt, of dealing with the far more expensive US Dollar; but that should not be seen as anything but a good thing: Canada has always had a vibrant jazz scene, but in recent years it seems to be positively booming, and so taking the chance on some Canadian acts that may be unknown to many will really be no risk—an opportunity to become acquainted with some of the country's top players, as well as a bevy of younger rising stars.

In other words, the 37th Annual TD Ottawa Jazz Festival continues to be one of the purest jazz festivals in the country, even with its relatively small number of non-jazz acts being brought in to help subsidize the smaller shows...but, even more, provide greater breadth and depth to a festival that may be a jazz festival, but recognizes that there are plenty of jazz fans out there whose tastes range farther afield.

Covering just a few nights this year before heading to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal may be the shortest stay since first beginning to review the festival in 2004, but even those few days are filled with great music from acts known and unknown. And it's hard to beat beginning this year's festivities with the Frisell/Morgan duo, followed by Gary Peacock's trio later that same evening.

June 23: Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan Duo

For the opening night of the festival's Jazz Warriors series, you couldn't pick a better pair of acts—both recording for Munich's lauded ECM Records and one already having released its first album in 2015 and a second due out later this summer/early fall. With Small Town representing guitarist Bill Frisell's first album as a leader/co-leader for the label since 1988's stellar Lookout for Hope—and his first album in the naked context of a duo, with double bassist Thomas Morgan—it was an inspired choice for the TDOJF to present this duo as the series' opener.

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