The 2012 Ottawa International Jazz Festival opens this Thursday, June 21, for 11 days of spectacular music making in our nation's capital. CBC Music asked programming manager Petr Cancura to sketch out an overview.
Allen Toussaint, Robert Cray, Dave Holland, Marc Ribot, Barry Guy, Colin Stetson and Jack DeJohnette are just a few that I can't wait to see. I am excited about the depth of talent we have and the amount of authentic music we will get to hear. We cover variety by way of quality and hence the amount of bona fide music is astounding.
I think [what sets us apart is] the unique world that this festival is able to create: the concentration of talented musicians scattered across venues that, acoustically, are some of the best in the country. You can go from the perfect small improv setting – where you get to sit an arm-length away from the artist – to the great wide open park's grandure.
The improv series we hold is one of the most cutting-edge series in any festival in Canada if not North America ... not many people realize that the artists you see here are moving the music forward. Also, the late-night series at our OLG stage is simply a party every night! It reaches out to some groups that I think are incredibly talented and are able to get people up and dance, all the while never dipping in the quality of talent. Forro in the Dark and the Barr Brothers are two of the acts I am really looking forward to here.
Come for the festival, stay for the feelings
I love the feel of Ottawa. It's beautiful: you can be downtown, and in 10 minutes you can be in the hills. It also feels like people are proud to be from here, respect the history of the area and the sense of community. Not to mention some of my favourite and most creative people live here. I love to hang out with my friends and talk about music and ideas, I love to go hiking in the Gatineau hills, I occasionally love to order a smoked meat poutine at the Elgin Street Diner and, of course, play music whenever I get the chance to.
From the memory banks
Well this one doesn't take place at the Ottawa Jazz Festival but it is just so powerful. A few years back I was backstage at a festival where Odetta was to perform. One of the most powerful singers and storytellers around, she was at the front lines in crucial American historical moments of the last century. She was very old and frail and her performance was delayed a day due to her health. Come the show, Odetta was wheeled out on stage and she started to sing and tell stories accompanied by her pianist. When she told the story behind the famous "House of the Rising Sun," and then started singing the song ... I remember looking out at the audience and the entire front row was crying ... that's what it's about!
• CBC Music's 2012 festival guide
• SPF '12: Summer preview of jazz and world music festivals
on Jun 21, 2012