Fourth Stage of Evolution: Stars Align for the Improv Invitational

Ottawa (Tuesday, June 16, 2015) — The journey of jazz has always proceeded through improvisation. By using (and deliberately misusing) the tools of previous players, artists explore the limits of convention to seek out a new horizon, new paths forward. The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival is proud to welcome back the Improv Invitational at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage. This year’s performers, hailing from 18 different countries, each in their own way showcase the restless inventiveness that is the hallmark of true jazz.

Far from an ivory tower ideal, a number of these musicians open their sound to the influence of contemporary media. Famed avant-garde saxophone player Mats Gustafsson’s Swedish AZZ project lovingly warps the familiar sounds of “Golden Age” Swedish jazz of the ‘50s and ‘60s by introducing live electronics and turntables. Nils Berg’s Cinemascope scour streaming video sites to locate “guest” musicians from around the world; these clips are then projected onstage as the band improvises live alongside these often unusual “collaborators.” Along a similar wavelength, Tin Men & the Telephone set up Wi-Fi and other connections with their live audience, sourcing non-musical elements like voicemail messages from the crowd, mining the musical possibilities of the rhythms of speech.

Many of these ensembles amount to supergroups. Fourth Landscape’s skeletal sound is the result of noted European experimental trombonist Sam Blaser and electronic nomad Benoit Delbecq crossing paths with influential American percussionist Gerry Hemingway. Cloudmakers Trio brings together three ace rhythm players in an unusual vibraphone-bass-drums ensemble whose music becomes “a brilliant game of rhythmic hide-and-seek” (The Guardian).

From French chanteuse Cyrille Aimée to the provocative instrumental shrapnel of guitarist Stian Westerhus, some of music’s boldest talents are coming to the Fourth Stage, because in improvisation, as in jazz itself, the journey is the destination.

This year’s TD Ottawa Jazz Festival runs from June 18 – July 1st in a variety of venues throughout Ottawa’s downtown core.