The Ottawa International Jazz Festival 2008 ended last weekend. I saw eighteen artists during the eleven-day festival. Top performances:
- Charlie Haden Quartet West. My review is here. And here’s an audio excerpt from the last (encore) song of the evening.
Not the showiest piece of the evening, but it provides a taste of the remarkable talents of pianist Alan Broadbent and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts.
- Herbie Hancock. Earlier comments here. Hancock and his colleagues displayed some serious musicianship, but ultimately this was simply the funnest concert of the festival.
- Buddy DeFranco. Reviewed here. Here are two excerpts mashed together: first (after a few introductory bars), DeFranco’s clarinet accompanied by Neil Swainson’s bass; then (from a different song entirely), the clarinet with Bernie Senensky’s piano.
You have to love clarinet music: it manages to be relentlessly happy without becoming insipid. Remember, as you listen to the excerpt, that DeFranco (the clarinetist) is 85 years old. You’d never guess it!
- Nathalie Nadon. This was another fun evening. The bilingual Nadon alternated between English and French as she addressed her audience, in a manner that is familiar to residents of our bilingual city (but nonetheless amazing to unilingual me). Her songs likewise alternated between English and French lyrics, with a corresponding change of style, since French jazz has a different flavour than American jazz. Nadon was backed by a capable trio led by her pianist husband, Michael Banber.
Having begun her career in musical theatre, Nadon seems to be launching a new career as a cabaret singer. She has a winsome stage presence: as soon as she came onstage, I whispered to my daugher, “Oh, this is going to be fun!” I could tell just by looking at her.
Nadon’s family and friends were present to buoy her up, and sometimes the evening unfolded like a kind of dress rehearsal. But she delivered the goods! It was a polished performance, approximately 90 minutes in length, made more enjoyable by Nadon’s contagious enthusiasm.
My impression was, here is someone who is embarking on the fulfillment of a life-long dream. That made it an extra-special evening.
btw, I’m thinking of beginning a series of posts on jazz music. I am hardly an expert, but I’ve been exploring jazz for about a decade now. I suspect others may be in the same place I was ten years ago: trying to figure out what’s good without having much prior exposure to the music. (To some extent, I’m still in the same place — there’s such a wealth of jazz to explore!)
The purpose of the series would be a kind of jazz introductory, written with the ordinary (non-specialist) listener in mind.