Ottawa does not have a particularly lively jazz scene most of the year, but it does have an annual jazz festival that year after year has one of the most comprehensive talent lineups of any North American festival. This year—which marks the festival's 30th anniversary—is no different.
Where to start? Perhaps with the acts I'm looking forward to the most (or, in other words, the acts that will likely not find me chained to my desk as the festival's media advisor):
Tomasz Stanko – I've loved his last few ECM recordings, and he deserves to be recognized outside Europe as one of the most creative post-Miles trumpeters.
Globe Unity Project – Although this reunion project doesn't have musicians as internationally well known as some of the band's alumni (Anthony Braxton, Kenny Wheeler, Enrico Rava) it still contains the cream of the crop of Europe's improvisers of the past 40 years.
Bill Frisell – Along with Matt Wilson and Robert Glasper, Frisell is participating in a series that sees the artists working with collaborators of their choice. On his first night, Frisell will perform with Eyvind Kang and Rudy Royston, and on the second night he'll work with Kang, Hank Roberts and Jenny Scheinman (his 858 Quartet).
Gord Grdina – Another exceptional guitarist, who completely knocked me out when I saw him in Vancouver a few years ago. He doesn't come east often enough, and he's here for two shows.
Joe Lovano – Seeing Lovano always puts a smile on my face, and I've been itching to see his US5 band since he formed it.
Also onboard this year: Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Medeski Martin & Wood, Roy Hargrove's Big Band, James Farm (with Josh Redman and Eric Harland), Christy Doran's New Bag (featuring Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass) doing a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Kenny Garrett, Fred Hersch, Tom Harrell and Christine Jensen's Jazz Orchestra with her sister Ingrid on trumpet.
The TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival runs June 24-July 4. You can check out the whole thing at: ottawajazzfestival.com