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The Souljazz Orchestra. Photo: Alexandre Mattar.

Autumn Leaves: Our fall preview of jazz in the capital

By Leah Geller on October 4, 2017

While outdoor summer jazz concerts are just wistful memories now, there is a lot of great music for jazz fans to look forward to this fall. From swing and Cuban to soul jazz and a holiday classic, below are just some of the shows you can enjoy around Ottawa over the next few months.

Miguel de Armas

Saturdays October 14 and 28, 7pm
Das Lokal (190 Dalhousie St)

As the October chill descends, cozy up at Das Lokal with some German-inspired comfort food and let the heat of Cuban sounds warm you up. Growing up in Havana, Miguel de Armas was surrounded by the best-of-the-best musicians, so he’s not only technically superb, but also understands the nuance and sleight of hand that makes Cuban music so intoxicating.

Miguel de Armas also plays regular gigs at The Marshes Golf Club and Brookstreet Hotel, both located in Kanata, or you can catch him on December 6 at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage as part of their NAC Presents series.

Roddy Elias & Felicity Williams

Saturday October 28, 7:30 pm
Gigspace Performance Studio (953 Gladstone Ave)

Listen to “Mantis” by Felicity Williams:

Bahamas back-up singer Felicity Williams is becoming increasingly recognized in jazz circles for her ethereal vocalizations. Her collaboration with highly respected Ottawa guitarist Roddy Elias promises to be intimate and lush. Skip the Halloween party and let this haunting music enchant you.

The Duke of Groove: A Tribute to Duke Pearson by the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra

Thursday November 2, 8:30 pm
NAC Fourth Stage (1 Elgin St)

The 1960s was a time of pushing boundaries in jazz music as well as society at large. One of the most influential musicians of the era was a relative unknown named Duke Pearson — a talented pianist, producer and arranger who played a big part in the Blue Note label’s journey into hard bop and soul jazz. Members of Adrian Cho’s Ottawa Jazz Orchestra will perform a full program of Pearson’s music, which they describe as “hard-driving, soulful and totally groovy.”

Kellylee Evans & Petr Cancura: Swing, Swing, Swing

Wednesday November 8, 8pm
NAC Azrieli Studio (1 Elgin St)

Full disclosure: I am addicted to swing dancing. It’s hard not to love it — the soundtrack for swing dance is filled with big band greats like Count Basie and Duke Ellington and extraordinary vocalists such as Louis Armstrong and Anita O’Day. So when I heard Ottawa’s celebrated Kellylee Evans was planning a performance of swing music, I was overjoyed. Look forward to swing standards by Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, backed by talented arranger and saxophonist Petr Cancura. While stereotypical NAC audiences stay quiet and glued to their seats, expect audience participation and lots of dancing.

Check out other NAC Presents jazz and jazz-influenced concerts this fall, including one of my all-time favourite performers, David Myles and up-and-coming Emie R Roussel Trio, both performing at the beautifully renovated Fourth Stage.

The Souljazz Orchestra

Saturday November 25, 9pm
Le Petit Chicago (50 Promenade du Portage)

This Ottawa-based Afrobeat collective has earned serious accolades across the pond, winning top spots on BBC best-of lists and rave reviews in international media. They’re now touring across Europe and the UK promoting a new album, Under Burning Skies, praised as their most refined and infectious record to date. The Souljazz Orchestra return to their hometown at the end of November to share their social justice message and soulful, joyous beats with local audiences. It will be hopping.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Tuesday December 12, 7pm
Dominion-Chalmers United Church (355 Cooper St)

In 1965, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz hired the Vince Guaraldi Trio to write and record the soundtrack for his upcoming Christmas special. Despite opposition from television executives, the unorthodox jazz score became one of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time.

Jerry Granelli, the only remaining member of that famed trio, returns with his own band to perform this iconic score and recount behind-the-scenes stories from the original recordings. With adorable excerpts from the animated special and a local children’s choir singing and acting Peanuts gang roles, the concert will charm children, families and jazz aficionados alike.