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Jazz legend Herbie Hancock. Photo courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Jazz Festival.

Jazzfest lineup: Tanya Tagaq, Herbie Hancock, GoGo Penguin, FET.NAT, and Kellylee Evans included in the 40+ concerts announced

By Greggory Clark on March 9, 2018

Banda Magda, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, Ghost-Note, The Commotions, Moon Hooch, Boz Scaggs and many more join the Jazzfest 2018 lineup.

On CBC Radio this afternoon, All in a Day host Giacomo Panico revealed the names of artists booked to play the 2018 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. Expect more to be announced in coming weeks, as the schedule made available today has open slots for up to three more main stage headliners and Ontario Stage programming (mostly local acts) is not a part of this initial lineup. Something like 15–20 more shows will be announced before Jazzfest opens on Thursday June 21, 2018.

At the top of this lineup is one of the heaviest jazz keyboardists in history. Jazz icon Herbie Hancock (June 30) is touring, so he’ll headline music festivals around the world all summer long. At the time of his last appearance in Ottawa, at Jazzfest in 2010, Hancock was touring his latest album, The Imagine Project. Now onto his first record since that 2010 project, it’s being reported that an imminent new release will feature guest appearances from Common, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Snoop Dogg, Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington. We’re thinking Hancock’s forthcoming tour is going to reveal a whole new side to the artist who is credited with influencing the always-evolving jazz music genre in virtually every decade since his career took off in the 60s as a sideman in the Miles Davis Quintet.

Another of the lineup’s most celebrated artists, Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, will perform for two nights at Jazzfest 2018. First in a duo concert with Norwegian Sámi artist Mari Boine (June 27) followed by solo concerts for both artists the next night (June 28); Boine at First Baptist Church and Tagaq in the OLG After Dark late night series. The Juno Award- and Polaris Prize-winning artist is a great act for the Jazzfest lineup, which tends to make space for experimental and innovative musicians of any genre.

Ottawa’s Kellylee Evans will also perform two concerts which bookend the 2018 festival; on opening night with a swing band led by Petr Cancura (June 21), plus her own show on closing weekend (June 30).

Montreal Jazzfest booking Snarky Puppy for June 28 was cause for local fans of the jazz fusion jam band to cross their fingers in hope of an Ottawa tour stop. It didn’t happen today, however, there’s no reason to be disappointed that Snarky Puppy isn’t in Jazzfest’s initial lineup announcement… because not one but three Snarky Puppy side projects are coming to the fest: Ghost-Note (June 26), Banda Magda (June 27), and Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles (June 30). Plus Snarky Puppy guitarist Bob Lanzetti will feature with the Jerry Granelli Group at First Baptist Church (June 27).

You know what else? The festival’s late-night jam sessions might be where the Snarky Puppy crew drop in to play a bit during their Ottawa layover. Oh, and… a headliner for June 29 in Confederation Park has yet to be announced… just sayin’.

Some more of Apt613’s picks include Brooklyn-based drum and sax trio Moon Hooch (June 22), Hull’s punk-jazz franglais poets FET.NAT (June 25), Toronto’s Heavyweight Brass Band (June 27), Ottawa soul band The Commotions (June 29), UK jazz-electronica three piece GoGo Penguin (June 29), and London-born, Paris-based vocalist ALA.NI (June 30).

More highlights include:

  • Chris Botti (June 21)
  • Boz Scaggs (June 22)
  • Rafael Zaldívar’s Afro-Cuban Revival (June 23)
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater with the Memphis Soulphony (June 24)
  • Django Bates’ Beloved (June 25)
  • Alison Krauss (June 26)
  • Jerry Granelli Group with Special Guests (June 27)
  • Béla Fleck and The Flecktones (June 28)
  • German National Youth Jazz Orchestra (June 29)
  • TD Youth Jazz Summit (June 30)

For a full list of the artists, visit

The 38th Ottawa Jazz Festival happens from June 21 to July 1 at Confederation Park, the National Arts Centre, First Baptist Church, Lisgar Field, The Lord Elgin, and Festival Plaza (City Hall). Passes cost $99–325 available online at, by phone at 613-241-2633, and at the festival box office (602-294 Albert St).