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Jazzfest lineup: Feist, Robert Glasper Experiment, Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, and The Bad Plus included in the 25+ artists announced

By Greggory Clark on March 23, 2017




Bill Frisell, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Maceo Parker & the Ray Charles Orchestra, Joss Stone, Mavis Staples, Hiromi, Pierre Kwenders, Caravan Palace, and many more join the Jazzfest 2017 lineup.

In a recent interview with CBC Radio host Alan Neal, Ottawa Jazz Festival programming manager Petr Cancura revealed the first 25 or so names booked for the 2017 festival. Expect more artists to be announced, as the schedule has notable open spaces and performances by local musicians have yet to be announced, nor has a venue been named for late-night jam sessions.

P-Funk saxophonist Maceo Parker could headline a jazz festival or two. However Parker – best known for his work with James Brown as well as Parliament-Funkadelic – is only one of many heavy hitters and household names including Feist, Joss Stone, Kenny Barron, Robert Glasper, and Hudson: a supergroup made up of Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski and John Scofield.

Which is why it may come as a surprise to readers of all tastes that soft-rock country singer and showbiz superstar Kenny Rogers literally headlines Jazzfest promotional material for the main stage series in Confederation Park. When asked by the interviewer if Rogers would be playing jazz, Cancura said the festival will be “taking Kenny the way he is.” Rogers has announced this will be his farewell tour before retirement. The 78 year-old songwriter has won numerous Grammys and Country Music Awards as well as a lifetime achievement award for a career which has now spanned seven decades.

Remarkable drummers Jack DeJohnette (Hudson, June 24), Dave King (The Bad Plus, June 28) and Mark Guiliana (Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, July 2) will perform at the 2017 festival. Otherwise remarkable: that virtually no local acts have been announced. So I’m just going to throw it out there that Dave King – whose band will play at the NAC – reveals the industry secret to “getting the gig” in Episode 35 of his YouTube series, Rational Funk, a complete instructional program for musicians of all skill levels.

Prolific solo artist Jacob Collier, touted by none other than Quincy Jones as “the future of music,” has a YouTube career which rivals that of any artist in the Jazzfest lineup. A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, Collier is world famous for his signature arrangements and reharmonizations of Gerswhin tunes, Michael Jackson hits, and this a capella cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”

Due to illness, soul singer Charles Bradley cancelled dates on his most recent Canadian tour, including a show at the Bronson Centre Theatre in October of 2016. Bradley had been touring his new album Changes but weeks before the Ottawa date his team cancelled due to the discovery of a cancerous tumour in his stomach. In a statement, he said “I’m getting the best medical care and we are all extremely optimistic. I will fight through this like I’ve fought through many other obstacles in my life.” Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires are now booked to play the main stage at Confederation Park on Friday June 20. A crowd favourite, Bradley’s last appearance in town was at the 2015 Ottawa Bluesfest.

The Jazz Warriors Series (indoors at the NAC Studio and Theatre) features American guitarist Bill Frisell, gospel singer Mavis Staples, legendary pianist Kenny Barron, and Japanese jazz fusion pianist Hiromi in duet with Edmar Castaneda. They are joined by the Donny McCaslin Group, the band that performed on David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar.

More Canadian artists include:

  • Jazz guitarist Alex Goodman (June 22)
  • Pop/rock singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas (June 23)
  • Indie/folk singer-songwriter Serena Ryder (June 23)
  • Sonoluminescence Trio, with Ottawa percussionist Jesse Stewart (June 27)
  • Alto saxophonist Allison Au (July 2)

For a full list of the artists performing, visit

The 37th Ottawa Jazz Festival happens from June 22 to July 2 at Confederation Park, the National Arts Centre, La Nouvelle Scène, and Festival Plaza (City Hall). Single day tickets cost $47–67 and passes cost $99–327 available online at, by phone at 613-241-2633, and at the festival box office (602-294 Albert St).