About

The Ottawa Jazz Festival programming has been a trailblazer in the complexities and explorations of jazz for over 40 years.

Our Purpose.

The Ottawa Jazz Festival exists to advance the appreciation and knowledge of all music, in particular jazz, by programming music that richly underscores the continuing creativity and diversity of the artists and the music itself.

Our History.

What began as a weekend of outdoor jazz in Major's Hill Park has evolved into one of the National Capital Region's most highly anticipated musical events of the summer. 

  1. Summer of 1980

    To celebrate and develop the popular jazz scene in Ottawa, local musicians Bob Misener, Tony Pope and Bill Shuttleworth founded a festival that eventually became what we know today as the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

  2. 1981-1984

    The Festival grew quickly, attracting large crowds and big names such as Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Herb Ellis, Bob Brookmeyer, Wynton Marsalis and Milt Jackson.

  3. Mid-1980s

    Shaped by Programming Manager Jacques Émond, the Festival booked more and more renowned musicians, including Sonny Rollins, Jack DeJohnette and Ornette Coleman.

  4. 1989

    The Festival moved to its own stage in Confederation Park.

  5. 1990

    Programming began to reflect Jacques' love of big band music and West Coast jazz. Jacques was always commended for his ability to spot up-and-comers before they were mainstream — artists such as Diana Krall, D.D. Jackson and Dave Douglas. 

  6. 1996

    Catherine O’Grady took over as Executive Producer of the Festival. Thanks to great management, the board of directors and the community, the Festival has become financially solvent and has seen an audience increase of 300%.

  7. 1999

    The Festival’s big break came with the programming of Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. A record-breaking 8,000 people were in attendance, ultimately putting the Festival on the international map.

  8. 2000

    Year-long programming was introduced. The Festival sold out two major concerts at the National Arts Centre, and in October, hosted the Buena Vista Social Club (also a sold-out show).

  9. 2001

    Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra returned and tickets sold out in just 72 hours with 8,000 people in attendance – a new record!

  10. 2010

    The Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary of consecutive programming, boasting the largest loyal audience of its kind in eastern Ontario. Since then, the Festival has presented some of the most dynamic jazz artists on the scene, from the traditional to the avant-garde, such as Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Salif Keita, Dave Brubeck, Mavis Staples, Roy Haynes, Toots Thielemans, Branford Marsalis, Béla Fleck, Kenny Werner, Stanley Jordan, Sonny Rollins, Terence Blanchard, Diana Krall, D.D. Jackson, Maynard Ferguson, and John Mayall.

  11. 2011

    The Festival’s total attendance hit 295,000.

    Petr Cancura was appointed as the new programming manager, only the second in the Festival’s 32 years.

  12. 2020

    The 40th TD Ottawa Jazz Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19. The Festival responded with Tenacity, a live-streamed event, featuring 85 artists in 12 free shows.

    In November, four shows — also live-streamed —were presented to a limited live audience with strict safety protocols in place. 

  13. 2021

    Nimble and resilient, as restrictions continued, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival presented some of the industry’s most ground-breaking artists throughout the year, whether virtually and or in person when permitted. 

  14. 2022

    Live events were back and the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival made its return to Confederation Park to celebrate 40 years of programming.

The Festival’s focus on Canadian talent has never wavered, and features approximately 300 domestic artists in the lineup each year.

Staff.

  • Petr Cancura

    Executive & Artistic Director

  • Suzan Zilahi

    Director of Marketing & Partnerships

  • Jacqie MacKay

    Artistic Manager & Programming Coordinator

  • Michael Lane

    Manager of Box Office and Corporate Services

  • Kaitlynn Steele

    Digital & Social Media Specialist

  • Chris Elms

    The Dude aka Operations Manager

  • Mike Laviolette

    Sponsorship Coordinator

  • Doug Millar

    Production Manager

Board of Directors

  • Ian Burgess

    Chair

  • Mark Fried

    Vice Chair

  • Jacquie Dixon

    Vice Chair

  • Catherine Robidas

    Treasurer

  • Keith Gallop

    Secretary

Members at Large:

  • Jaspreet Kalra
  • Timothy M. Wong
  • Richard Goldstein
  • Ben Laserson
  • Margaret Dalziel
  • Yves Menard
  • Alex McMahon

  • Adam Douglas, Immediate Past Chair ex-officio