On Day 3 of the Ottawa Jazz Fest, the public had the opportunity to see the likes of Colin Stetson, Kathleen Edwards, Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, and Snarky Puppy take center stage.
Eventful Capital’s day began with a live performance by saxophone extraordinaire Colin Stetson at the National Arts Centre. Upon arrival, a huge lineup of festival-goers had already formed and they were patiently waiting for their turn to get in to the 4th Stage. Unfortunately, given the small room, several people were unable to enter. There was not one free spot in the packed intimate venue and the show started almost 10 minutes late to allow for everyone to take their seat. Once the announcer introduced Colin Stetson, the anticipation was palpable and you could feel the tension in the air as people eagerly awaited the magic that was about to unfold. Stetson, who’s a multireedist, brought along an alto, tenor and a bass sax for this solo performance. He waisted no time and the moment the first notes were heard it was clear that it was going to be an experience like no other. Stetson delivered a hauntingly beautiful and mesmerizing set, something so unique and captivating that one must experience it in person to truly grasp its brilliance. The musical genius presented original compositions from his widely acclaimed trilogy, “New History Warfare Vol. 1”, “New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges” and “New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light” including Judges, A Dream Of Water, High Above a Grey Green Sea, and To See More Light. It was simply poignant and one of the most moving performances ever experienced.
Over on the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage, local singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards was giving her last performance after 15 years of music. The Ottawa roots folk/rock musician was surrounded by a large audience of supportive fans who clearly didn’t want to see her go. Edwards unconvincingly repeated that she was only taking a break from her music career and that she would be back after trying her hand at something different. For this last show, her set list included the songs Asking For Flowers, In State, Hockey Skates, Change The Sheets, Moving to America and Put On, Cologne that she sang with the talented Donovan Woods. At one point during the performance, she invited a group of children to join her for an alphabet song and she even got an overly-eager fan on stage to play the tambourine to everyone’s amusement. It was a bittersweet goodbye for many.
Meanwhile, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers were headlining the Main Stage over in Confederation Park where a sea of lawn-chairs packed the space. Known for his witty sense of humour, Martin gave a performance that resembled a comedy show. Cracking jokes left and right, he managed to balance theatre and music by dosing the right amount of each for the receptive audience. Martin’s great banjo playing was enhanced by the excellent bluegrass musicians Steep Canyon Rangers, all sharply-dressed, who played the Jazz Fest just two years ago. For this particular occasion, Martin invited singer Edie Brickell to join them for the ride. Together they performed Get Along Stray Dog, Yes She Did, the Grammy-award winning song Love Has Come For You, Sun’s Gonna Shine, and Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby. Martin also gave a banjo solo for the tune Gentleman Pete, but he was quick to recognize the talent of the Steep Canyon Rangers, who he said he didn’t think of as his band, but rather that he was their celebrity.
The third day of the Ottawa Jazz Fest concluded on the Laurier Stage with Snarky Puppy who performed in Canada’s national capital as part of the After Dark Series. The New-York based collective attracted a large audience of fans who quickly filled the venue. Starting almost 15 minutes behind schedule, the instrumental modern jazz, funk and r&b group featuring Michael League on bass, Robert “Sput” Searight on drums, Nate Werth on percussion, Bob Lanzetti on guitar, Justin Stanton on keys/trumpet, Chris Bullock on sax/flute, Mark Lettieri on guitar, Mike “Maz” Mather on trumpet and Shawn Martin on keys, gave a high-energy performance and projected great stage presence. They’re undeniable synergy could easily be felt and this contributed to their contagious set. Seeing Snarky Puppy live and dancing to their feel-good rhythms was the perfect end to a beautiful day of live music.
The Ottawa International Jazz festival continues until July 1, 2014 at various locations and is set to feature Aretha Franklin, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble among many others.