By TRAVIS PERSAUD
The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival continues to be a joyful surprise.
The annual foray into jazz and surrounding genres has become one of the biggest draws during Ottawa’s festival season. In recent years, heralded performers such as Esperanza Spalding, Elvis Costello, and Branford Marsalis have headlined. If they repeated this format for 2013 — a lineup of big name, genre-defying artists and top-notch jazz musicians — the jazz festival would have received the same type of enthusiasm it’s experienced in previous years. Not one eyelash would have been batted, not one complaint filed. This year, though, they’ve decided to expand their boundaries, adding a brand new series that will take place in a stellar venue.
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival’s new concert series
“We call it the Signature Series,” says Petr Cancura, programming manager. “It will be taking place at the Dominion Chalmers United Church — a marvelous building that opens doors to many possibilities. The artists in this series will be a welcome surprise to many, including Mavis Staples, Wayne Shorter Quartet, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.” He had us at Mavis Staples, who will likely blow the roof off of the church (in the best possible way); adding talent like Ladysmith and Wayne Shorter makes us believe this new series will become the highlight.
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival’s Lineup
The jazz festival’s other venues boast equally tantalizing lineups. “We carefully pair the artists with the ideal venue to ensure the best listening experience,” Cancura says. “The Fourth Stage [at the National Arts Centre] was ranked as one of the best jazz venues in North America, and at Confederation Park you can expect plenty of space yet experience intimate concerts.” Artists at the top of our “too see” list at this year’s Ottawa Jazz Festival include:
Willie Nelson and Family on June 21
David Byrne and St. Vincent on June 23
Boz Scaggs on June 27
The Bad Plus on June 28
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on June 29
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival’s After Dark Series
And remember to save some energy for the jazz festival’s After Dark Series. “We open the doors to a wide range of artists from alt-pop trio Tortured Soul to the mesmerizing Aoife O’Donnovan,” Cancura says. We’re also excited to see innovative indie band Young Galaxy, The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard, and jazz singer Gregory Porter.