Back by popular demand!
It’s an overused phrase in the entertainment industry, but occasionally, it rings as true as a perfect high note from a smokin’ hot horn. On extremely rare occasions, like this one, it even has a double meaning:
In January of 2013, after eight successful years, one of Hull’s premiere jazz venues, Le Petit Chicago, brought an abrupt end to its Monday night jazz sessions. The club found itself on thin financial ice – so thin, many feared that jazz had fallen through a crack and was never to resurface.
Now, though, Monday night jazz, like the club itself, is enjoying a hale second life Even the last band to play there, The Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, is back, knocking ‘em dead after a long, productive spate of wood shedding.
Both institutions, though, club and band alike, have undergone some changes. Instead of a flat fee, performers are financially rewarded by a suggested $5 donation, plus a cut of the bar. Shows now begin at 10 PM instead of 10:30, with the first set featuring the house band and the second serving as an invitational.
Musically, it’s a welcome change. The resurgence of jazz at Le Petit Chicago creates a chain of weekly jazz nights throughout the Ottawa-Hull-Gatineau There’s JazzWorks, GigSpace, Pressed, the Rainbow, Brookstreet and Sante in the nation’s capital and the Levante Bistro and now, once again, Le Petit Chicago on the Quebec side.
As for the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble – Zakari Frantz on alto sax, Jon Hincke on bass, Mike Essoudry on drums and Pierre Chretien (of the famed Soul Jazz Orchestra) on vibes – it has seriously expanded its repertoire. It not only covers standards these days but plays many original compositions, all in the high-spirited, spiritual-based traditions of Yusef Lateef, John Coltrane, Bobby Hutcherson, and Archie Shepp.
Chretien calls their current repertoire “a musical collision in the middle of the Atlantic, between North American and African jazz streams, resulting in anew previously unknown world of sounds. Deep, spiritual, modal excursions.”
Best of all, the entire month of November is theirs – that’s right, that rarest of things on the Ottawa (well, Hull) jazz scene: a steady gig! And should the outfit’s run be extended, they plan to share their good fortune, with aspirations to invite touring artists from Montreal and other eastern locations to join the fun.
For Ottawa-based jazz lovers who have yet to cross the bridge to get their fix, Le Petit Chicago is located at 50 Promenade du Portage.
Stay late and call in sick on Tuesday!