By Jared Davidson –
Jazz is quickly becoming Hintonburg’s chief music export. With jazz nights at Cafe My House and the Hintonburg Public House, and the eclectic flavour of Elmdale features, the neighbourhood has established itself as a place for jazz. This is especially true of the Wellington strip between Bayswater and Parkdale, which often rings with contrapuntal melodies played on well-loved saxophones.
A major champion of the burgeoning jazz movement has been The Record Centre, located at 1099 Wellington St. across from Hintonburger. Owner John Thompson, a fan of the genre, has played host to several jazz nights at the Centre, the most recent of which was extreme to be sure. For 24 hours straight, Hintonburgites crowded the record shop’s aisles, listening to performances from the likes of Petr Cancura (Jazz Festival’s Programming Director and Juno-nominated saxophone player) and John Geggie, Souljazz Orchestra, and the Chocolate Hot Pockets.
The free event, called “The 24-Hour Jazz Ramble,” was organized and presented by the Ottawa Jazz Festival and featured a steady stream of performers from 10 a.m. Tuesday June 14 to 10 a.m. Wednesday June 15. The love of jazz was strong throughout, so strong in fact that two fans stayed the entire 24-hour run, earning the Last Man Standing prize of a Jazz Festival pass.
According to John, because two lucky gentlemen made it all the way through, the Jazz Festival was able to give out two prizes. Die-hard fans of jazz or no, these two certainly pushed the limits. That was the idea of the event: to challenge what people thought possible in terms of the longevity of jazz concerts. And that was accomplished with flair and an almost obsessive adherence to set times.
“We’re not even a minute behind schedule,” says John, halfway through the event. “We did a bunch of things to streamline switchovers. Everyone uses the same drum kit.”
The entire event was streamed live. Clips are available at the Jazz Festival’s website, OttawaJazzFestival.com and do not disappoint. In typical Record Centre tradition, the event was recorded live-to-tape. Because they do not make 24-hour tapes, John was forced to change the reels every so often, an act he performed with the gentle care of an enthusiast.
“We’re analogue guys,” he explains. “And analogue IS better. Don’t get me going.”
Ironically, they’ll be featuring the music on the Record Centre Soundcloud (a digital platform) at Soundcloud.com/therecordcentre/. In fact, most of the Record Centre’s shows are featured, recorded in high quality. Acts like FET. NAT., Winchester Warm and Isaac Valentine have been featured, making the page a great way to check out local music.
The Record Centre is perfect for jazz: it’s intimate, eclectic, and the hundreds of records adorning the walls seem indicative of the breadth of jazz as a genre. It’s been nearly a year since the small music store began pushing itself as a venue for live music, and the neighbourhood has clearly appreciated it. The venue was packed to the brim with standing room only available in the doorway and on the sidewalk. Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, sitting in the front row (pictured in the crowd above), seemed inspired by his community’s love for jazz.
“I’ve taken to telling people that Kitchissippi Ward is music’s home in Ottawa. And I’m just going to keep telling people that until they believe it.”
Jeff himself is a budding jazz enthusiast, though mostly through the influence of his son, who is a collector. Though Jeff has yet to learn the depth that jazz can attain, he is enthusiastic.
“It goes too far for me at times, quite frankly,” says Jeff, almost apologetically. “This event is great. I can understand this.”
And that seemed to be the going consensus. While there was plenty for the hardcore jazz lovers to enjoy, ordinary non-jazzheads had a great time as well. There is no word yet on whether this is set to become a regular event, but there is no doubt there will be plenty of jazz in Hintonburg’s future.