10 Days | FREE shows | 85 artists | live chats

Improvising musicians are among the most creative people in the world. They thrive in the unknown. Rise past a challenge. Express themselves best in the moment.
Lock them down? Their art will flourish.
Tenacity is all about flourishing, creating in the moment, and overcoming adversity with art.
So, we can’t enjoy a golden sunset and star-filled evening in Confederation Park, or share the intimacy of the NAC’s Fourth Stage, but we have the music, and we have the creative artists who can transport us to magic spaces of the mind. Combined with pre-recorded and live performances, the end result is a high-quality professional production. Local animators have enhanced some of the pre-recorded performances with stunning visuals.
We invite you to join us, and listeners around the world, for a dozen unforgettable—and unrepeatable—musical presentations, where we’ll delve to the heart of improvisation and creative collaboration. Each performance will be preceded by a live conversation with the principal artists, conducted by journalist James Hale of DownBeat magazine.


Friday, June 19 at 7:00pm

Free Improvisation experiment with Kris Davis, Lina Allemano, and Anna Webber

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Call and response: it’s one of the elemental components of creative music. We’ve gathered three masters of the moment and set them to work. Celebrated pianist Kris Davis improvised some music under lockdown in New York City and shared the track with the Toronto/Berlin-based trumpeter Lina Allemano and saxophonist Anna Webber—with one proviso. They both had to turn on their own recording equipment before they listened to what she had recorded, and respond completely in the moment. The artists only got to hear the result once the final edit was completed, and now you can hear it, too.

Animated by Darryl Lahteenmaa | Edited by Sarah Jasmine Hodgson

Saturday, June 20 at 5:00pm

Tin Men and The Telephone present the GREATEST show: a live interactive performance

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The Dutch collective Tin Men and The Telephone might be the ideal band for a global lockdown. After all, the trio specializes in incorporating audience feedback into its performances through a bespoke app called Tinmendo. For this Tenacity performance, it’s almost business as usual, except of course the audience is locked down too. So, you’re invited to download Tinmendo from the App Store or Google Play, and help shape this very special performance by band members Tony Roe and Jamie Peet that might well have been designed specifically for these times.

This interactive performance will take place in a Zoom call, find out how to prepare for the show here!

Saturday, June 20 at 7:00pm


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Says Ottawa native and BadBadNotGood bassist Chester Hansen: “As the dominoes of COVID-19 began to fall across the world and decimate the live music scene in 2020, we were especially saddened to see the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival cancelled. It’s an amazing festival with such depth and breadth of artists year after year, and it would have been our first time playing there. Since this all started, we’ve been in our respective caves trying to make music and process what’s going on, and when we found out about Tenacity it seemed like a great opportunity to try out a video. Sending everyone love and peace, and hopefully one day soon we can again all experience music together in the same space.

Animated & Edited by Darryl Lahteenmaa

Sunday, June 21 at 7:00pm

Sea To Sea: Both Sides Now Tentet

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The jazz big band is the antithesis of social distancing. Go ahead! Load 15 or 20 musicians on a bus, then squeeze together on a bandstand and blow saxophones, trumpets, and trombones at one another. Spit happens. Leave it to Montreal-based bandleader Christine Jensen to rise to the challenge of creating a trans-Canada coronavirus jazz orchestra to perform the music of a Canadian icon. For Tenacity, she’s recruited the cream of Canadian musicians—from Florian Hoefner of Newfoundland and Labrador to Vancouver Island’s Phil Dwyer, and including drummer Larnell Lewis, trumpeters Ingrid Jensen and Brad Turner, trombonists Audrey Ochoa and Jean-Nicolas Trottier, saxophonist Shirantha Beddage, and bassist Mike Downes—to perform Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece Both Sides Now. No tour bus required.

Animated & Edited by Darryl Lahteenmaa

Monday, June 22 at 7:00pm

The Prime Rib Big Band feat. Joel Frahm

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Ottawa’s Prime Rib Big Band, led by veteran trumpeter Ed Lister, was just about to drop its new album, Choice Cuts, when the world went on hold. This great new recording deserves a proper launch party, so pull up to your device of choice to celebrate with the band and its special guest, GRAMMY Award-winning saxophonist Joel Frahm. Featured artists include Petr Cancura, Mark Ferguson, Brian Asselin, Zak Frantz, and others. One of the cuts on their album, Crunch is featured on Tenacity’s promo video. Get set to dance!

Animated by Spencer Moreland | Edited by Sarah Jasmine Hodgson

Tuesday, June 23 at 7:00pm

Dan Tepfer – Natural Machines in a live performance

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Prize-winning French/American pianist Dan Tepfer has written a new language for his project Natural Machines, creating exceptional arrangements with breadth and depth that meld his background in astrophysics and his passion for music. The computer-driven algorithms he has developed communicate with his piano, transforming digitized music to new heights, visible on the accompanying screen. View Dan’s fascinating workshop video as he explains the process at the 2020 TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest.

Wednesday, June 24 at 7:00pm


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JUNO and Felix award winner Elisapie is known for her artistic interpretations of life in Canada’s North—both its rugged beauty and harsh conditions—and blending that with her unblinking take on life as an Inuk woman in contemporary Montreal. Raw, intimate, and soulful, her music has been called a blend of hypnotic arrangements and the low rumble of Tom Waits. Also a filmmaker and journalist, Elisapie sings in English, French, and her native Inuktitut, telling stories that are wholly unique and unforgettable. For her Tenacity performance, she’ll be joined remotely by two of her sonic collaborators.

Animated & Edited by Natalie Nehlawi

Thursday, June 25 at 5:00pm

Joe Morris Instantiation

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Live improvisation is alchemy at the best of times, but how do four musicians who have never performed together make music from four separate cities? Guitarist and educator Joe Morris has created a time-based graphic score for himself and three other exceptional improvisers: trombonist Samuel Blaser (Switzerland); trumpeter Craig Pedersen (Montreal); and pianist Tania Gill (Toronto). To make things even more interesting, the musicians won’t be able to hear each other—only the audience will get the hear the entire piece come together… like magic.

Friday, June 26 at 7:00pm

Kellylee Evans – LockedDown/OpenedUp feat. Seamus Blake

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An unexpected benefit of this unique era is the freedom creative musicians have found when they’re forced to exist apart from one another. Without having to face the rigors of travel, many have discovered new means of expression and an opportunity to explore beyond their usual repertoire and performance habits. The drive to create and collaborate across time zones is strong, and new possibilities are open wide. Ottawa-based singer Kellylee Evans is no stranger to adversity, so she’s put this time of lockdown to great use, crossing musical boundaries in a safe and socially distanced way. For this special performance, she invites listeners to join her, Clayton Connell, Stephen Adubofour, Caylan Penny, and special guest, Seamus Blake in a boundary-breaking collaboration.

Animated by Natalie Nehlawi | edited by Sarah Jasmine Hodgson

Saturday, June 27 at 5:00pm

Hayden Chisholm – D.K Heroes

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It’s one of the great ironies of the lockdown: As we’ve been isolated in our homes, technology has brought more of the world to us than at any previous time. The Dorćol Kafana Heroes are a collective of Roma musicians hailing from a Belgrade suburb that’s a traditional cross-cultural melting pot for Serbs, Jews, Hungarians, and, most recently, New Zealanders. Fronted by New Zealand saxophonist Hayden Chisholm, the band consists of the city’s best wedding and kafana (or Ottoman coffeehouse) musicians who play the music of a local violin legend. For Tenacity, the Heroes will perform an exclusive set from one of their home theaters in Dorćol-Kosmodrom, one of the last remaining free theaters fighting to survive among the new investment development in the region.

Edited by Hayden Chisholm

Saturday, June 27 at 7:00pm

Ottawa’s Jazz Masters in a live performance

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It’s safe to say that no one will emerge from this global pandemic unchanged. Time, isolation, and the break from normal habits and routines affects us all. Musicians have been affected more than most people—unable to get before audiences and stressed over the long-term impact this crisis will have on the music scene as we’ve known it. Join host James Hale in conversation with four of Ottawa’s most distinguished musicians: guitarist Roddy Ellias, bassist John Geggie, pianist Steve Boudreau, and vocalist Michael Hanna. They’ll delve into issues regarding creativity and the art form of jazz, and each musician will perform a solo work.

Sunday, June 28 at 7:00pm

Tenacity Collage – Hymn To Freedom

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In 1962, Canada’s legendary jazz pianist and composer, Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, wrote the iconic “Hymn to Freedom,” which the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame declared is “embraced by people over the world as the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.” In this inspiring and very personal project, the Festival’s Programming Manager Petr Cancura, has curated 38 musicians—a veritable who’s who of Ottawa’s finest performers—to perform and record themselves playing this piece in the same tempo and key. The final audio has been edited into one final compilation and a video has been produced to combine the recordings of the individual artists.

Animation & Video collaboration by Natalie Nehlawi, Sarah Jasmine Hodgson and Darryl Lahteenmaa