Some of world’s best musicians come to city fans



ottawa jazz festival


Renowned international vocalist Césaria Évora will be one of several legendary jazz performers playing in Ottawa as part of this year's Jazz Festival, which features 94 concerts and more than 500 musicians and begins today.


When jazz diehards begin to stake their spots on the lush grass of Confederation Park today, and flood into other city venues for the 2007 TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival, they can expect to be treated to some legendary performances.

With 94 concerts featuring more than 500 musicians, festival executive producer Catherine O’Grady says audiences can expect “solid, spectacular jazz” for the duration of the 11-day festival.

“Many of the performers this year are legendary both for their age and accomplishments, but also for their absolute virtuosity,” she said.

Some of the big names this year include Branford Marsalis, who kicks off the festival tonight, The Dave Brubeck Quartet who will take over the main stage on Saturday, and respected guitarist Bill Frisell and internationally recognized vocalist Césaria Évora.

Though the festival started out as a low-key event organized by three local musicians in 1981, it has since become one of the biggest events of its kind in North America, routinely attracting performers from around the world.

Acclaimed saxophonist P.J. Perry has played the Ottawa festival several times and says he’s thrilled to be returning this year.

“The Ottawa festival is of the highest calibre and one of the mainstays on the Canadian festival circuit,” said Perry.

“There’s a lot of variety in it and that gets people out in the park hearing an eclectic, wonderful sample of music.”

Pianist Kris Davis, who was raised in Canada but now lives in New York, is excited about playing in Ottawa and spending some time back on her home turf.

“I’ve attended the festival before because my mom used to live in Kanata, but it will be very different and exciting to actually play,” she says.

In addition to drawing both veteran and newer jazz performers together, O’Grady says one thing the festival has always wanted to do is shine the spotlight on local jazz composers.

This year the festival is hosting Petr Cancura, Mark Ferguson, Rob Frayne, Mike Essoudry, Mike Fahie and Pierre-Yves Martel as part of the Ottawa Composer’s Collective, working on their own and one another’s compositions, before showcasing their results in a June 29 concert at the NAC’s Fourth Stage.

“Artists rarely get opportunities to work together like this because they are so busy just trying to make a living, so we are excited to see what will come out of this,” says O’Grady.

More than anything, O’Grady hopes even those who don’t normally listen to jazz will find something on the schedule that piques their interest.

“We often find it easier to call into American Idol than to spend a few bucks to see something really authentic and artistic, but good music needs to be supported.”

For ticket information and a schedule of performances, visit www.ottawajazzfestival.comonline.