Festival Preview: TD Winter Jazz Fest (Feb. 4 – 7)


It’s uncertain that we’ll see anything so glacial as last year’s February, but Ottawa will prepare nonetheless! Canadian curators continue to conspire to warm the most frozen part of the year with animation, music and activities around the capital. While the week is completely stacked with intimate indie shows and huge outdoor concerts, there will be another low-key bass line humming in the back: the TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest!

A full festival pass costs less than $80, and most shows are $22. The full listing is available here, and below are a few fine things jazz fest have cooked up this winter that we like.

The jazz festival’s programming manager Petr Cancura will open the fest on Thursday Feb. 7 with his second instalment of a trilogy. Although not part of the three-day festival proper, Cancura and Ottawa singer-songwriter Lynn Miles will team up for a “Crossroads” performance that will infuse her music with a jazz sensibility. The multi-instrumental organizer did much of the same with Ian Tamblyn last year and will again with Jeremy Fisher this spring.

Besides that, he and his team have managed to put together a world class team of jazz musicians to take over the NAC Fourth Stage for the whole weekend.

The Fraser Hollins Quartet
The Fraser Hollins Quartet

Friday is the day of the Sax. Mike Murley, many times over National Jazz Award’s Saxophonist of the Year recipient, will play with his trio at 7 p.m. If you don’t have enough sax in your life then you can cozy up to Fraser Hollins as he leads a quartet comprising world-renowned drummer Brian Blade (also from the 613), epic pianist John Cowherd, and 2013 Juno-winning saxophonist Joel Miller at 9 p.m.

It’s pretty much a long weekend of a jazz club opening at the NAC Fourth Stage. Friday will also feature a free performance by Ottawa’s The Chocolate Hot Pockets. Jazzy soul, funky groove, instrumental melted over R&B and hip-hop. Dope.

David Virelles & Román DĂ­az on Sunday: Afro-cuban jazz pianist and composer meets a moody rumba percussionist in a bar. Have you heard this one? If you go, don’t bring a coat—it’ll be very warm in there.

Mouse on the Keys
Mouse on the Keys

On Saturday, Mouse on the Keys is best described as an art project: two pianists and a drummer frame their musical dexterity with stunning visuals. The instrumental trio from Japan are a Showbox pick!

The virtuosos of MontrĂ©al Guitare Trio will close out the three-day blitz of warming jazz with technical and intricate guitar playing. If anyone is wondering why they won a “best concert of the year” Opus Award in 2011, then they didn’t play the video of their cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” linked above!