It’s a wrap!

The Ottawa International Jazz Festival 2008 ended last weekend. I saw eighteen artists during the eleven-day festival. Top performances:

  1. 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.
     

  2. Herbie Hancock. Earlier comments here. Hancock and his colleagues displayed some serious musicianship, but ultimately this was simply the funnest concert of the festival.
     
  3. 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!
     

  4. 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.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bill
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 08:58:12

    Stephen – M and I went to the Montreal Jazz festival this weekend. I was womdering if you had the opportunity to go? Although I am still partial to the Ottawa festival which is smaller more intimate the Montreal one has the benefit of being at least half free. M and I went to a paid concert at the Palace des Art. It was the 25th aniversary of the Justin Time Label . I think you would have enjoyed it Oliver Jones played several tunes as did Billy Bang, The Montreal Jubulation Chior and several others. The performance finished with a Blues artist (blind fellow who’s name I cant recall) about 11:30. The entire festival was dedicated to Oscar Peterson There is a huge photo of him hanging in Place des Art. All the clubs seemed to be playing Jazz even if they weren’t Jazz clubs. I am going to post some photos on the Rant. I hope you went but if not next year we will be going again and there are two seats in the back of our car which you and your partner (or a son or daughter) are free to fill.

    Reply

  2. Stephen
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 13:24:40

    Thanks for the offer, Bill. I’ve never been to the Montreal Jazz Festival, and I know it’s a bigger extravaganza than its Ottawa cousin. Maybe it will work out next year.

    Reply

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