Staff Picks: Who we’re skipping work to see!

Jordan David, Operations

kamasi downbeat
Kamasi Washington on the cover of Downbeat Magazine

I’m extremely excited to see and hear Kamasi Washington (June 22, NAC Theatre) in action. I was first introduced to his work on the album To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar and I’ve been hooked on his sound ever since. Kamasi Washington’s music is rich, vibrant and should resonate with true jazz and hip-hop heads alike.

Ben Caplan’s (June 27, Laurier Music Stage) live show is very interactive. I’ve seen him play twice and both times I was impressed. He has the ability to rock a crowd in a really unique way, not to mention his band is super tight. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us!

For those in need of some serious dance therapy then you should check out DJ Hector Romero @ Mercury Lounge on Saturday, June 25th.  He combines deep and funky grooves with that true New York House sound. He’s one of the best on the underground scene!

Jacqie McKay, Artist Liaison (Head Honcho)

Brian Wilson (July 3, Main Stage Concerts Under the Stars) – Get on your board shorts, grab yourself a Beau’s and watch one of The Beach Boys! Brian Wilson will blow you away with his 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds show on July 3rd. Summertime is here, and what’s better than sitting in a park and soaking up the sun and listening to some tunes. You will SMILE the entire time, I PROMISE YOU!

Buffy Sainte-Marie (June 28, Main Stage Concerts Under the Stars) – What can I say? Buffy Sainte-Marie is the coolest! From acting on Sesame Street, to being a multiple Juno Award Winner, to having one of her songs “Cod’ine” covered by Janis Joplin, this 75 year old activist has done it all. Her latest album Power in the Blood was selected as the winner of the 2015 Polaris Music Prize. I can’t wait to see this awesome woman hit the stage with her fantastic style and power!

Judith Hill (June 29, OLG After Dark) – Judith Hill is a star, and her soulful voice will make you travel back in time. Hill was selected to be Michael Jackson’s duet partner in his 2009 This Is It tour, but Jackson tragically died before the tour hit the ground. She was also picked to be on Adam Levine’s team on The Voice in 2013, starred as one of the talented back-up singers in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, opened for John Legend, and Prince himself produced her 2015 album “Back In Time”. If you’re a fan of Electric-Soul and R&B don’t miss this magical performance on June 29th.

Petr Cancura, Programming Manager

Banda de Los Muertos / Endangered Blood (June 25/26, NAC Back Stage) – These two groups share some core musicians. Some of the leading and most legendary musicians from New York’s “Downtown Scene” do what they do best in the setting of Endangered Blood. They teamed up with other fantastic rising-star musicians from Brooklyn to play Mexican banda music, the music that is played in every village in Mexico… from a New York point of view.

Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen

Colin Stetson Presents: Sorrow –  A Reimagining of Górecki’s 3rd Symphony (June 27, NAC Studio) – Colin Stetson has established his voice as a unique instrumentalist with a transcendent approach, particularly to the bass saxophone. He has found that middle ground where he has the undivided attention of both jazz fans and indie music fans. The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival is one of the very few places that Colin is bringing his biggest project ever… a revisiting of Górecki’s 3rd Symphony.

Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen (June 28, NAC Studio) – New Orleans is a true music city. People play music to survive there – whether from a financial or spiritual point of view. There is a sense of importance and history when it comes to jazz in New Orleans. Jon Cleary is a British born pianist who has reinvented himself as a long time NOLA resident. He has played with everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Alan Toussaint to John Scofield. One of my favourite things about Jon is that he understands how to create a wide beat. When achieved, a “wide beat” is absolutely irresistible to move your body to!

Waxwing (July 2, NAC Back Stage) – Canada has some of my favourite musicians! Every year there are at least one or two artists that are true gems. This is one of them. I listened to this CD over and over. Guitar, cello and saxophone from three of my favourite musicians from BC.

Matt Gower, Artist Liaison

The Boxcar Boys

My picks are various bands reviving retro music genres:

The Boxcar Boys (June 23, Great Canadian Music Series) – New Orleans Dixieland with some Klezmer mixed in will ease everyone into the blues-themed headliners on opening night. Plus, these guys look like they’re having a lot of fun on stage too.

The 24th Street Wailers (June 26, OLG After Dark) – When you listen to The 24th Street Wailers music, you can hear their influences front and centre: rockabilly with a heavy nod to rock n’ roll gods Chubby Checker and Chuck Berry. It’s rare to see a band with a drummer front and centre on the stage as the lead singer. You’ll be blown away by Lindsay Beaver’s powerful voice.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (June 26, Main Stage Concerts Under the Stars) – Straight-up soul music. Close your eyes when you’re listening and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1960’s. How can you not love Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings?

JM Francheteau, Media & Marketing

Colin Stetson at the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage. Photo: Dan Nawrocki.
Colin Stetson at the National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage. Photo: Dan Nawrocki

Colin Stetson Presents: Sorrow –  A Reimagining of Górecki’s 3rd Symphony (June 27, NAC Studio) – Stetson is one of the world’s foremost avant-garde jazzers, but his appeal extends to fans of boundary-pushing music of all genres. His hand-picked 11-piece lineup have worked with everyone from Liturgy to Tom Waits, and Stetson’s arrangement finds surprising links between Górecki’s beloved symphony and modern post-rock. Plus, we’re among a lucky few festivals to host it (so far, there are only six tour dates worldwide with the full-ensemble). Don’t sleep on Stetson’s earlier duo show at the Back Stage with Sarah Neufeld either. Pairs well with: Esmerine, Endangered Blood

The Flat Earth Society: The Oyster Princess (June 23, OLG After Dark) – As a movie geek, I’ve always loved Ernst Lubitsch’s erudite, slyly sexual comedies; the verbal wit he became famous for in his sound pictures works so well because his apprenticeship in the silent period taught him everything he needed to know about how to sell a joke without words. The Flat Earth Society, an experimental big band that nods to The Residents and Frank Zappa, will be performing their live score alongside a screening of Lubitsch’s early The Oyster Princess (1919), and they’ve got the brass and bent imagination to bring a new dimension to the flick. Pairs well with: Igor Butman & the Moscow Jazz Orchestra, The Claudia Quintet

Devil’s Tale: Adrian Raso & Fanfare Ciocărlia (June 28, OLG After Dark) – Fanfare alone are pure fire, playing warp-speed traditional Roma music that’s had crowds losing their minds since they were “discovered” by a German folklorist in an isolated Hungarian town in 1996 (a plot that would make more sense set in 1896). But you throw in Toronto gypsy jazz guitarist Adrian Raso, who lends a flashing, swashbuckling flare to the proceedings, and you can almost smell the sulfur. Pairs well with: Banda de Los Muertos, No BS! Brass Band

Julian Selody, Box Officer (& Fire Warden & Sax God)

Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret (June 23, NAC Back Stage). Being into birds, I would go see this band based upon name alone.  The compositions are great but don’t get in the way of the improvising, which is what it’s all about. Also Tyshawn Sorey is one of my favourite drummers ever.

The Thing (June 28, NAC Back Stage). The first time I saw this band was 4 or 5 years ago at the Jazz Fest. Needless to say, I was blown away and have been following the band members’ other projects ever since. A blast of cathartic energy that will wake something inside you didn’t know was there.

Devil’s Tale: Adrian Raso & Fanfare Ciocărlia – Balkan Brass!!!!!!! Need I really say more. No, I need not.

Lovedyne Dumont, Artist Liaison

Judith Hill – I’m excited to see Judith Hill at the Festival. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s also a very talented singer. Her soulful and powerful voice won my heart after I saw her at the blind audition on The Voice, Season 4. After she was voted off the competition I never watched that show again! America broke my heart.

Sarah McLachlan – Also very talented, our own star, Canadian singer and song writer!! I used to put her CD Mirrorball on repeat and fall asleep with the sound of her soft voice. No matter what she sings her voice always puts me to sleep. I mean that in a very good way!! lol

Les Poules à Colin

Les Poules à Colin (July 1, Tartan Homes Stage) – I don’t know very much about them but, being a Frenchy, I had to represent and highlight this group and their talent! Looking forward to jamming to their music.

Nick Schiavo, Media & Marketing

I can’t wait to catch Kamasi Washington. I came across his music after his collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly and have been feeling his unique sound ever since. This guy is blowing up for sure and I, for one, am on board.

I’m definitely going to see Tennyson (June 25, OLG After Dark Series). They’re siblings, they’re Canadian and their music makes me want to groove and chill at the same time. Anyone who enjoys good, home-grown electronic music should check out this duo!

Judith Hill. Need I say more? (For the purposes of these staff picks, probably). Judith Hill’s soulful, jazzy sound is unbelievably powerful. Her impeccable range – both in style and tone – blows me away every time.

Charlie Meness, Operations

Trombone Shorty

My first pick would be Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. They sound like a great band and I’m a blues guy. I missed him when I was in New Orleans, but I’ll be sure to catch him this time!

My second pick would be Digging Roots because I like to support fellow Nish in life, never heard them but bio sounds like they will be pretty good, besides seen Buffy loads of time before.

As for my third pick, there’s so much going on that I’m just going to follow whatever’s most rocking near me!