10 Days | FREE shows | 85 artists | live chats
June 19 – 28, 2020
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 was all about flourishing, creating in the moment, and overcoming adversity with art.
While we couldn’t enjoy a golden sunset and star-filled evening in Confederation Park, or share the intimacy of the NAC’s Fourth Stage, we still 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 review a dozen unforgettable—and unrepeatable—musical presentations, where we delved into the heart of improvisation and creative collaboration online. Each performance preceded or followed a live conversation with the principal artists, conducted by journalist James Hale of DownBeat magazine.
Free Improvisation experiment with Kris Davis, Lina Allemano, and Anna Webber
Originally viewed Friday, June 19 at 7:00pm – View the video
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
Tin Men and The Telephone present the GREATEST show: a live interactive performance
Originally viewed Saturday, June 20 at 5:00pm – View the video
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. The audience was 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 took place in a Zoom call.
Originally viewed Saturday, June 20 at 7:00pm – View the video
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
Sea To Sea: Both Sides Now Tentet
Sunday, June 21 at 7:00pm – View the video
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 have risen to the challenge of creating a trans-Canada coronavirus jazz orchestra to perform the music of a Canadian icon. For Tenacity, she 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
The Prime Rib Big Band feat. Joel Frahm
Originally viewed Monday, June 22 at 7:00pm – View the video
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 deserved a proper launch party, so with TENACITY the Festival was happy to provide a virtual solution. Special guest, GRAMMY Award-winning saxophonist Joel Frahm joined in the celebration.. 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
Dan Tepfer – Natural Machines in a live performance
Originally viewed Tuesday, June 23 at 7:00pm – View the video
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 also Dan’s fascinating workshop video as he explains the process at the 2020 TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest.
Originally viewed Wednesday, June 24 at 7:00pm – View the video
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
Joe Morris Instantiation
Originally viewed Thursday, June 25 at 5:00pm – View the video
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 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 weren’t be able to hear each other—only the audience could hear the entire piece come together… like magic.
Kellylee Evans – LockedDown/OpenedUp feat. Seamus Blake
Originally viewed Friday, June 26 at 7:00pm – View the video
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 put this time of lockdown to great use, crossing musical boundaries in a safe and socially distanced way. For this special performance, she invited 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
Hayden Chisholm – D.K Heroes
Originally viewed Saturday, June 27 at 5:00pm – View the video
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 performed 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
Ottawa’s Jazz Masters in a live performance
Saturday, June 27 at 7:00pm – View the video
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. 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 delved into issues regarding creativity and the art form of jazz. Each musician also performed a solo work.
Tenacity Collage – Hymn To Freedom
Sunday, June 28 at 7:00pm – View the video
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, curated 39 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