With news that lockdown restrictions are easing slightly in Ottawa, organizers of Winter Jazzfest have announced their new festival dates will be March 4–6. The festival had originally announced nine concerts streaming for *free* in January, but postponed the festival due to the new state of emergency. While no audience members will be allowed to attend in person, six concerts will be recorded and broadcast live from Arts Court Theatre in downtown Ottawa.
Juno Award-winning Montreal vocalist Ranee Lee (March 4), Ottawa singer-songwriter Jim Bryson (March 5)—who says he bought a jazz guitar for this!—and Polaris Prize shortlisted songwriter Ron Sexsmith (March 6) are headliners for the three nights of Winter Jazzfest.
Canadian jazz heavyweights in the Kirk MacDonald Generations Quartet will open for Sexsmith on March 6. For fans of straightahead jazz, MacDonald is a veteran on the Canadian and international jazz festival circuits. Most recently he was playing the Jaipur Jazz Festival in India just before the onset of COVID-19. For this concert, Kirk is joined by 25 year-old clarinetist Virginia MacDonald, drummer Morgan Childs and bassist Neil Swainson.
Montreal’s 8-piece Jazzlab Orchestra is more than 15 years old but the Québec jazz ensemble is only marking their first Winter Jazzfest appearance now. They’ll debut in Ottawa—virtually, but also in Ottawa at Arts Court Theatre—with a tribute to legendary bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus (opening for Jim Bryson, March 5).
Another Montreal-based act, the multi-instrumentalist cellist, pianist, composer and producer Rebecca Foon will open the 2021 festival at 6pm on March 4. In 2002, she co-founded the Juno Award-winning chamber group Esmerine and was a core member of the celebrated Montreal cult post-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra from 2001-2008. Most recently she has been a part of Colin Stetson’s acclaimed “Sorrow” orchestra performing Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony.
TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest is happening March 4–6, 2021, with a series of concerts filmed in Arts Court and streamed for free. To check out the line-up and for more information, visit their website.