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Jazz Fest opens this weekend: interview + highlights

By Ryan Saxby Hill on June 20, 2014

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The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival starts this weekend! We’re big fans of the festival and we’ve made it something of an annual tradition to check in with Petr Cancura, programming manager for the festival, to see what he’s pulled together for Ottawa Jazz fans. (If you’re interested, see 2011, 2012, 2013). We’ll have some artist interviews coming out over the week and we hope that you’ll take this chance to catch some Apartment613 favourites from Jill Barber to Austra to Aretha Franklin. It’s quite the line-up. Here’s our interview with Petr.

Apartment613: What’s new at this year’s Jazz Festival? Anything you’ve updated for this year?

Petr: Yes! We have a new series called the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Series, a brand new series dedicated to current and forward looking Canadian artists. We also have a Bollywood theme as the opening night. This is to both honor the musical ties between South-Asian music and jazz, and to recognize the South-Asian community right here in Ottawa. We are also working with Le Petit Chicago, which is a new partnership. This is all on top of everything we have done last year… it’s really quite exciting.

Can you point to a few hidden gems in the program? Are there are a few acts you think our readers would be particularly into?

There are quite a few hidden gems here… they are my favorite! Let me start with Lake Street Dive. This is a band that I actually went to school with. They are incredible musicians, they are quirky, soulful and super hip. Don’t take my word for it: Kevin Bacon couldn’t stop tweeting about this band when he heard them cover the Jackson 5 song ‘I Want You Back’. Melissa Aldana is another gem. She is a young saxophonist who is the first woman to win the Thelonious Monk competition as an instrumentalist. She is pretty amazing! Snarky Puppy won a Grammy this year yet are still somewhat under the radar, they are definitely worth checking out. Naomi Shelton and The Gospel Queens are playing the Tartan Homes series at Dominion Chalmers. They are on the Daptone label and they certainly live up to the name. I actually talk about a lot of these on the festival blog.

In looking back at this year in jazz, what did you find more interesting when programming the festival? What trends or developments are you watching?

I think what I am seeing is a resurgence of jazz by young musicians. Western Swing and traditional Jazz is making a comeback (check out New York’s The Brain Cloud June 28 & 29) and I think the raw authenticity of folk music as an influence on jazz is going strong as a concept. I am seeing a lot of new things and a freshness in jazz, it’s on the verge of being hipper than it has been in decades.

For more on the Jazz Fest program, visit or call at 613-241-2633 and they can set you up.  Single tickets start around $20 and a full pass is only $190 (or if you like the perks of fully covered seating and other goodies, check out the Gold Pass).