Festival Special

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As mentioned at the onset of this section, Montreal’s jazz festival is not the only ­institution marking a banner year. So does the ECM label, hence a five-concert showcase of its artists integrated into its ­program. With a catalogue now exceeding 1,600 titles and a slate of about 40 new titles for this year alone, the festival’s programmers certainly had an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

Bobo Stenson. Photo: Daniel Vass / ECM Records

The five Montreal concerts will involve the piano in all but one. Aside from the two-piano affair, there will be a solo recital by Swedish veteran Bobo Stenson (July 5, 6 p.m.) and a trio outing by his youthful Norwegian counterpart Tord Gustavsen (June 28, 6 p.m.). Of the same generation as the latter, Nik Bärtsch from Switzerland returns to the city with his stalwart quartet Ronin (July 5, 10:30 p.m.). As odd man out, so to speak, bassist Larry Grenadier, long-time sideman of pianist Brad Mehldau, performs solo (July 4, 10:30 p.m.), on the heels of The Gleaner, his recently ­released side for the label.

Of all guests, Stenson stands out in terms of years of service, his association stretching back to 1971, a year ahead of Keith Jarret’s debut (Facing You). With Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, these keyboardists constitute something of the label’s Holy Trinity. Without a doubt, ECM is indebted to those two Scandinavians for shaping an important part of its ­musical identity, known as the Nordic Sound. Over time, this musical style has drawn hordes of new practitioners, Gustavsen being a prime example. His music, unhurried in pace and introspective in tone, thrives on its open spaces, with few hairpin turns or flurries of filigrees. Farther removed from the jazz idiom is the sonic world of Bärtsch, his pieces built on repetitive cells that offer little if any room for individual initiative or soloistic input. By the looks of it, the series will be well within the label’s more subdued aesthetic, as some would like to call it, yet this is only one part of the ECM story.

 

Ottawa Jazz Festival champions Gender equity

On March 8, International Women’s Day, the TD Ottawa Jazzfest announced its intention to strive for gender equity in its programming. Of the 45 concerts unveiled at that date, women receive top billing in 21 of them. Executive producer Catherine O’Grady stated her intention of turning this initiative into a explicit policy for the next few years at least.

Christine Jense. Photo: Randy Cole

In so doing, Ottawa has thrown its support behind a British-based lobby group, Keychange, which has approached cultural events for the last two years with a view of achieving parity by 2022. At current writing, 15 Canadian festivals have committed themselves to the cause.

Among its acts, ­Ottawa has mandated Christine Jensen to put together a jazz orchestra playing a repertoire of originals by its women participants, among them Marianne Trudel, Anna Webber, Tara Davidson and Claire Devlin (June 25, 7 p.m.). In Montreal, Jensen gets another crack at it, this time fronting the New York threesome of Helen Sung (piano), Norika Ueda (bass) and ­drummer Allison Miller. (July 3, 10:30 p.m.).

For complete program, go to: www.ottawajazzfestival.com

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About Author

Marc Chénard is a Montreal-based multilingual music journalist specialized in jazz and improvised music. In a career now spanning some 30 years, he has published a wide array of articles and essays, mainly in Canada, some in the United States and several in Europe (France, Belgium, Germany and Austria). He has travelled extensively to cover major festivals in cities as varied as Vancouver and Chicago, Paris and Berlin, Vienna and Copenhagen. He has been the jazz editor and a special features writer for La Scena Musicale since 2002; currently, he also contributes to Point of Departure, an American online journal devoted to creative musics. / / Marc Chénard est un journaliste multilingue de métier de Montréal spécialisé en jazz et en musiques improvisées. En plus de 30 ans de carrière, ses reportages, critiques et essais ont été publiés principalement au Canada, parfois aux États-Unis mais également dans plusieurs pays européens (France, Belgique, Allemagne, Autriche). De plus, il a été invité à couvrir plusieurs festivals étrangers de renom, tant en Amérique (Vancouver, Chicago) que Outre-Atlantique (Paris, Berlin, Vienne et Copenhangue). Depuis 2012, il agit comme rédacteur atitré de la section jazz de La Scena Musicale; en 2013, il entame une collabortion auprès de la publication américaine Point of Departure, celle-ci dédiée aux musiques créatives de notre temps.

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