1. I’ve read your “About Us” page — but can you elaborate a bit more on why you & Alayne McGregor started the site?
As they say, “Local matters”! We’ve been enjoying local jazz for 20 years and wanted to bring it to the attention of a wider audience. We got tired of seeing thousands of people at the Ottawa Jazz Festival every year and very, very few of them at the really great jazz shows occurring around town the other 350 days of the year.
We are trying to break down the myth that you need a music degree to enjoy jazz and improvised music. You can be ordinary listeners like us, and find types of jazz that will appeal to you, perhaps while enjoying a beer, or a coffee, or a fine meal.
Ottawa-Gatineau has world-class jazz and improvising musicians. Because Ottawans tend to not blow our own horns or saxophones, our greatness is unknown and under-celebrated.
2. What makes your site different from other local jazz / music listing sites?
The timeliness, completeness and accuracy of our jazz and improvised music listings is tops. Musicians are sometimes surprised that we have their shows listed before they tell us! We are the only site regularly doing stories, interviews, profiles and reviews about upcoming Ottawa concerts and jazz musicians.
3. Tell me about your (free) “Members Only” area of the web site.
We actually haven’t put anything there yet! We decided to make all our material openly accessible so far, to really get the word out about the scene. But we have some plans for enhanced content and more interactive services for registered members, where we will need to restrict spammers and robots from posting and voting.
4. I have to admit – I was surprised at the number of jazz clubs listed on your site – over 20. How big is the jazz scene in Ottawa? Is it on the rise or on the decline?
Jazz is on the rise on both sides of the Ottawa river! Several restaurants have opened up for regular jazz in the last year, and clubs have added regular jazz events. There’s also some fascinating cross-over music (Jazz and hip-hop, jazz and funk, jazz and folk) music happening in the dance clubs and in the coffee houses.
5. What other media sources (web or otherwise) would you recommend for jazz fans in Ottawa?
In these days of ‘everything net’, the Ottawa Public library is easily overlooked. It has a very good collection of jazz books, CDs, and DVDs – all free! You can browse for material on its website and have it delivered to your local branch for pickup. The OPL is a great way for someone to dig deeper into the people making the music, or try out some jazz risk-free by borrowing a CD. And there’s a real range there: from the classics to bebop to ultra-free jazz to crossover.
We also recommend you listen to the many jazz radio shows available on local and network stations. (You can find them on our Jazz Radio page.) The local ones are quite varied and often play music from artists coming to Ottawa.
(Editor’s note: Congrats to Brett and Alayne for creating such a great site. I originally met Brett and Alayne through their work with Citizens for Safe Cycling, a cycling advocacy group run by volunteers. Brett and Alayne are just two of the many people in Ottawa who contribute their time to make our city a great place. I’ll be highlighting more people like them in future blog posts here on OttawaStart.)
Related: Ottawa Music Guide