The Ottawa Jazz Festival programming has been a trailblazer in the complexities and explorations of jazz for over 40 years.
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.
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.
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 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.
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.
Shaped by Programming Manager Jacques Émond, the Festival booked more and more renowned musicians, including Sonny Rollins, Jack DeJohnette and Ornette Coleman.
The Festival moved to its own stage in Confederation Park.
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.
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%.
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.
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).
Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra returned and tickets sold out in just 72 hours with 8,000 people in attendance – a new record!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Festival’s focus on Canadian talent has never wavered, and features approximately 300 domestic artists in the lineup each year.
Director of Marketing & Partnerships
Artistic Associate & Programming Coordinator
Cory Mae Omega
Box Office Coordinator
Digital & Social Media Specialist
Graphic Designer / Video Editor
Board of Directors
Members at Large:
- Jean Vanderzon
- Debbie Ferrigan
- Jacquie Dixon
- Ben Laserson
- Mark Dregas
- Mark Fried
- Keith Gallop
- John Cvetan (ex officio)
- Catherine O’Grady (ex officio)