Tuesday, 21 June 2011



Let's say you have a project in mind or you just spent half a year writing music and now you want to present it. Well you are going to want the best possible musicians to play it and you want these musicians to be on top of their game, experienced and simply really good at what they do. These sidemen we are talking about are the Music Warriors... musicians on the front lines: the musicians that practice every day, play show after show after show, weddings, conferences, club shows, festivals, original bands, jazz, rock, world music... whatever the style may be, they sometimes lead their own bands, they sometimes arrange, compose, direct... all possible combinations that makes them all round musicians and great sidemen. So I thought I would tell you a bit about some of our own Ottawa Music Warriors that will be playing at the festival.

Mike Tremblay, a great saxophonist and one of the city's key educators. Most of the great saxophonists that have come out of Ottawa have studied with Mike including, Mike Webster, Rob Mosher, Dave Neil, Daniel Ko, and myself. Mike plays mostly tenor and soprano saxophones and plays with the NAC, Holly Larocque's Big Band Broadcast, and many other bands on a regular basis. he has done countless session work and is one of our busiest sidemen. He will be playing with Nicole Ratte and Mermaid Beach.

Mark Ferguson is one of our hidden treasures in Ottawa. An incredible pianist and trombonist who has played with everyone from Tony Bennett, Holy Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Manteca and Rob McConnell and The Boss-Brass just to name a few, he is also one of the city's busiest arrangers (Holy Larocque's Big Band Broadcast, Hugh O'connor and the NAC Orchestra). If that wasn't enough Mark also teaches courses at Carletone University and is a favorite piano accompanist among singers. Mark will be playing with Elise Letourneau, Los Gringos and Mermaid Beach.

John Geggie, our fearless leader at the nightly Jam Sessions that cap off each day at the festival, john is undoubtedly one of our strongest musicians in town. Profficient in classical music, John is primarily a jazz bassist and a professor at SUNY university in Potsdam, New York. He has a celebrated series at the NAC as a leader where he has brought in some of the world's most notable musicians such as Any Milne, Ben Monder, David Murray, Andrew Cyrille, Myra Melford. Besides high profile shows, John is a favored sidemanand asside from manning the jam sessions, he will also be playing with Christine Fagan at the OLG stage.

Mike Essoudry, the fearless leader of the Mash Potato Mashers is one of the cities unique voices on drums. He is a prolific composer, also leading his 8-piece jazz group, Mike has a lot of influences and therefore a creative unique approach to a lot of different musical situations. You'll get to check him out in many different groups as he will be found playing with the Mash Potato Mashers, Megan Jerome Trio, Craig Pederson Quartet, My Tiny Circus and Don Cummings' Back Talk Trio + 1

Vitas Paukstaitis, philospher, supporter of all great music and bassist extraordinaire. He has spent over a decade as a first call bassist in New Orleans and has slipped right back into a busy schedule since his return. He has played with most blues, soul, R&B and jazz bands in town and I would think it's not a stretch to call him a staple of the Ottawa Music Scene. Vitas outs his heart into everything he plays and that's one of my favorite things about him. You'll get to check him out with Steve Groves and Daniel Ko "Modern History", Kelly Craig's Sextet, Brian Browne's Trio and Megan Jerome's Trio.

Some other great local musicians that I'd like to mention that you might want to take note of are:
Jeff Asselin, is one of our great drummers who will be playing with Brian Browne's trio as well as Kelly Craig's Sextet. His brother Brian Asselin is a fine saxophonist who will be playing with Kelly Craig's Sextet as well. Linsey Wellman is an alto saxophonist who will be performing with Craig Pedersen's Quartet. Linsey is one of the most recognizable voices on the saxophone... a very personalized approach steeped in improvised music and a lot of world folk music. Zak Frantz is one of my favorite alto saxophonists around, his regular gig is with Souljazz Orchestra but you can catch him at the festival with Kelly Craig. Daniel Ko, a great young alto saxophonist who is about to embark on a full scholarship journey to Berklee College of Music in Boston will be playing with The Back-Talk Trio + 1 and Steve Groves. Peter Beaudoin, also a leader of many groups in town will be playing with Los Gringos and longtime accompanist J.P. Allain will be playing with his own trio and Nicole Ratte.

And so it goes as you open a subject I find myself not being able to stop and for the sake of your eyes and the space on this page, I will stop the endless list of names of great musicians that keeps coming to mind.

Here is to the our Sidemen: The Music Warriors!

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