‘We’re fighting the history of jazz’: Gender parity the focus of the 2019 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival lineup

This 12 months and for the subsequent few years, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival will attempt to current as many teams led by ladies as by males on its levels, says the occasion’s govt producer, Catherine O’Grady.

Unveiled on International Women’s Day Friday, the lineup for this summer season’s sometimes eclectic pageant, which runs from June 21 to Canada Day, options 21 of 45 live shows by teams with feminine leaders. Among the essential stage bookings are singer-songwriters Judith Hill and Norah Jones, Cuban singer Omara Portuondo, and the progressive band of U.S. jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.


Other essential stage acts — not half of the feminist initiative — embody veteran rockers Chicago, hip-hop band The Roots and a brand new quintet led by jazz piano celebrity Brad Mehldau.

Meanwhile, on the pageant’s indoor levels in the National Arts Centre, the push for gender steadiness can be furthered by live shows that includes the award-winning younger jazz singers Cécile McLorin Salvant and Cyrille Aimée, Juno-winning bandleader and composer Christine Jensen and her jazz orchestra, Canadian-born cutting-edge pianist Kris Davis and rising stars of jazz saxophone Anna Webber, Melissa Aldana and Nubya Garcia, amongst others.

More live shows, together with reveals by Ottawa-area musicians, are nonetheless to be confirmed.

“There are more women on our stages than there ever have been. I’m really proud of how far we have come,” O’Grady stated in an interview this week.

“I have been consistently frustrated by the few women artists I see on stages in North America and the many women I see on stages in Europe, and not just singers — band leaders, composers, arrangers, players and so on,” O’Grady continued.

“I’m fascinated by ladies being featured at our pageant as a result of they’re gifted. Some I might categorize as musical geniuses, and others I might put down as having such distinctive and distinctive approaches to jazz that we haven’t but absolutely categorized it or absolutely critiqued it.

“Once you begin actually on the lookout for the work and listening for the work and listening to the uniqueness of the musical concepts, you simply variety of surprise why we haven’t been doing extra of it,” she stated.

In 2017, a U.Okay.-based world motion known as Keychange was launched to name on music occasions to realize gender-balanced packages by 2022. So far, greater than 150 occasions, by and huge in Europe, have signed on to the pledge to fulfill that focus on. Fifteen Canadian occasions are on the Keychange record.

O’Grady stated she was unaware of Keychange. “My initiative is completely my own and happily Petr (Cancura, the festival’s programming manager) enthusiastically shares it with me.”

Cancura and O’Grady have been working for 2 years on this 12 months’s focus on ladies. They stated assembly their objective has not been simple.

“We’re fighting the history of jazz, basically,” stated Cancura. “There just aren’t as many women, and it was harder for them, and it is still hard for them, to survive in that world. It’s mostly a man’s world.”

O’Grady identified that girls don’t tour as usually as males do. “I know it sounds bizarre, but they don’t,” she stated. “They have a lot more family responsibilities. In this day and age, it sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but it’s absolutely true.”

Furthermore, whereas it may be extra economical for a number of festivals to pool their sources to e-book closely promoted male artists, the similar “block booking” technique is much less of an choice when presenting feminine jazz artists, O’Grady stated.

“If an agent is promoting a tour that’s mostly men, and you’ve got 8 or 10 or 12 or 20 places to play, the costs are reduced for everybody. If you’re promoting a female band, and you’ve only got two or three gigs, then those costs are far in excess of what it would cost to present a male band,” she stated.

O’Grady, who’s one of two feminine jazz pageant producers in Canada, stated she’s not been capable of persuade her counterparts to match her dedication to feminine musicians. “The boys are the boys. What can I say?” she stated.

O’Grady stated her pageant will preserve its objective of gender parity “for the next couple of years, anyway.” This 12 months can even see panel discussions and different features focus on ladies in music, she added. “We’re trying to give it some real context, substance,” O’Grady stated. “We’re hoping it will be really important.”

Meanwhile, in a brand new transfer, this 12 months’s pageant can be with out programming for a day — Monday, June 24 — in order to save lots of as a lot as $30,000 in manufacturing and technical prices. Last 12 months’s pageant “lost a ton of money,” largely as a result of of its transfer from Confederation Park to the smaller, much less acquainted confines of Festival Plaza throughout Laurier Avenue, O’Grady stated. The transfer was wanted as a result of of sewer development work in the park.

A warmth wave final 12 months additionally didn’t assist the pageant’s numbers, O’Grady added.

Last 12 months, the best-attended pageant live performance was given by jazz nice Herbie Hancock, who drew about 6,000 folks, O’Grady stated. Confederation Park, when packed, can maintain greater than 10,000 folks.

This 12 months’s pageant had no selection however to return to Festival Plaza, O’Grady stated. But the pageant has re-thought the way it will use the area beside Ottawa City Hall to “maximize the footprint for the audience,” she stated.

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2019 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival highlights

June 21: Judith Hill, Anna Webber’s Simple Trio, Gilad Hekselman Trio
June 22: Jane Siberry, Patricia Barber Trio, Ranee Lee
June 23: Chicago, Emie R. Roussel Trio, Kris Davis/ Ingrid Laubrock
June 25: Norah Jones, Christine Jensen Big Band, Duo Léandre/Freedman, Jakob Bro/Thomas Morgan/Joey Baron
June 26: Brad Mehldau Quintet, Melissa Aldana Quartet, Hayden Chisholm Trio
June 27: Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Cyrille Aimée
June 28: Omara Portuondo, Donny McCaslin
June 29: The Roots, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Laila Biali
June 30: Lee Fields & The Expressions, Lemon Bucket Orchestra

More programming information:ottawajazzfestival.com

Passes: bronze ($199), youth ($99), gold ($319), plus day passes at numerous costs, at ottawajazzfestival.com (costs exclude taxes and charges)

Individual live performance tickets: $20.35 for After Dark sequence reveals on the Ontario Stage, $24.78 for NAC Fourth Stage reveals, $30.09 for NAC Studio reveals, at ottawajazzfestival.com (costs exclude taxes and charges)

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