Arts & EventsTD Ottawa Jazz Festival Announces Diverse 2016 Line-Up

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Announces Diverse 2016 Line-Up

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Announces Diverse 2016 Line-Up

Kamasi Washington. All photos courtesy of the Ottawa Jazz Festival. 

Announced on CBC’s All In A Day, the line-up for the 36th annual TD Ottawa Jazz Festival includes a few Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, a giant of Canadian folk music and recent Polaris Prize winner, a 26-time Juno Award nominee with nine wins, not to mention three Grammys, a pair of blues legends, a tribute to the King of Pop, and a Pulitzer Prize for Music winner. If that’s not enough for you, how about a jazz legend with a staggering 63 Grammy nominations and 22 wins?

How does one begin to put together such an eclectic amount of choice for festival goers? For Programming Manager Petr Cancura, sometimes it’s two years in the making.

“It takes a long time to nail down many shows and tours,” explains Cancura. “We put a lot of care in the curation of our festival to make sure every show is of great quality and have ongoing relationships with artists and organizations to ensure a truly unique line-up year after year.”

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Brian Wilson.

This year that unique line-up includes a chance to break out your Bermuda shorts because Beach Boy Brian Wilson is catching a wave into town. He’ll play the band’s classic Pet Sounds in full to close out the festival on July 3rd. The album, generally listed second only to the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on all-time best lists, turns 50 this year and features hits like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows” and “Sloop John B.”

Tunes from Pet Sounds aren’t alone in being on the road for 50 years with an Ottawa stop this summer. Charlie Musselwhite, legend of the blues harmonica, has been touring for five decades and can get ovations simply by opening his harmonica case. After an amazing performance with Ben Harper at the 2014 festival, he returns this year on June 23, this time bringing along soon to be Blues Hall of Fame inductee Elvin Bishop.

Canadian singer-songwriters, not to mention Order of Canada recipients, will be well represented on the main stage. Sarah McLachlan will be performing on June 25 and Buffy Sainte-Marie on June 28. Sainte-Marie will be playing songs from her storied career with her most recent accolade being a Polaris Prize for her album Power in the Blood.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The festival will live up to its name by bringing some top jazz acts to Confederation Park starting  on June 24 with fresh arrangements of the music of Michael Jackson interpreted by the SFJazz Collective. You can toss in the always vibrant Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue (June 27) if you feel like getting a little bit funky. Trumpet player extraordinaire and music director of Manhattan’s Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra Wynton Marsalis brings the whole 15-piece group to the stage on June 29.  Chick Corea, one of the most innovative piano players in jazz, will be joined by one of the most acclaimed drummers on the scene, Brian Blade, and virtuoso bassist Christian McBride. The trio are sure to perform some selections from their 2015 Grammy winning release Trilogy when they hit the stage on June 30.

Also on the main stage will be the soulful Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (June 26), the hip hop reggae rock jazz fusion sounds of Michael Franti (July 2) as well as a special surprise for the always free Canada Day programming the festival offers.

“We will have the great pleasure of hosting the National Arts Centre Orchestra lead by none other than the celebrated Alexander Shelley,” says Cancura.  “This promises to be a one of a kind Canada Day at the festival grounds.”

With massive touch-ups going on inside the National Arts Centre, the festival may have lost a venue in the popular NAC Fourth Stage but it’s gained two more. Three shows will be showcased inside the 900 plus seat NAC Theatre. A central figure in the L.A. jazz scene, sax player Kamasi Washington plays on June 22, guitarist John Scofield is joined by Joe Lovano on sax come June 25 and singer Stacy Kent performs on July 2. A new area called Back Stage will host the festival’s Discovery Series.

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Sharon Jones and the DAP-KINGS.

Other festival highlights include Colin Stetson performing a re-imagining of Henryk Górecki’s 3rd Symphony with Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld (June 27), the Laila Biali Trio swinging back into town on June 25 after a fantastic set at the Fourth Stage in February, Ottawa’s Mackenzie Rhythm Section who wowed audiences last year (June 26) and, bringing Mexicana brass fiesta Banda de Los Muertos with them on June 25.

While Cancura did acknowledge that the plummeting Loonie did have an effect on this year’s line-up, he is quick to add that some careful budgeting and a little elbow grease helped bring festival goers a lot to look forward to come June.

“I dare anyone not to be excited about this year’s line-up! It is top notch, which is largely the result of artists trusting in the reputation and history of the festival as one of the most artistically authentic festivals out there.”

All of the above plus the return of the usually rambunctious OLG After Dark series shows, NAC Studio performances and the late night jam sessions where you never know who might show up. The festival begins June 22 and runs until July 3. You can snag passes now at early bird pricing over on ottawajazzfestival.com.

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