GigSpace, at 953 Gladstone Ave., is Ottawa’s best-kept secret – unless, of course, you’re a jazz fan. The same applies to the two world-class talents you’ll find there this weekend – playing together no less: local heroes Brian Browne, piano, and singer-composer Elise Letourneau.
First, the venue: GigSpace, in Ottawa's West End, is a 46 seat venue with the kind of acoustics and intimacy musicians adore. It’s an all-purpose facility – providing that purpose is jazz-based - where jam sessions, workshops, concerts, and eclectic collaborations regularly take place. New to its roster of uses: live CD recordings. The first such sessions will take place this Friday, September 5 and Saturday the 6th, when Browne and Letourneau trade chord changes.
Browne has long been a fixture in the nation’s capital; anyone who’s ever frequented Westboro’s chic Juniper Wine Bar has seen him, with his distinctive pate and equally distinctive sound. Of course, he’s also played a variety of other venues, from the National Arts Centre to the annual TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. The Montreal-born Browne, with that bluesy, introspective sound, has ten CDs to his name, with another – collaboration with Jive Wire front man and solo singer Steve Berndt – on the boards.
This time, Browne will be playing behind Letourneau, the moody-looking strawberry blonde whose CV, like her long, flowing locks, just keeps on growing. Not only did the Humber-Berklee trained Letourneau found Canada’s first community jazz choir (Vox Jazz,) she’s penned compositions that continue to be performed across North America. As a solo artist, she’ sung alongside such notables as Sheila Jordan, Oliver Lake and Roland Wyath, the man behind The Manhattan Transfer.
Together, they’ll lay down tracks for Live at GigSpace, the first of a series (the place hopes!) of indigenously recorded concerts aimed at helping to subsidize this not-for-profit venue so loved by Ottawa’s musicians. No word yet on when the recording will be polished nor how it will be distributed but no doubt, local jazz aficionados will be keeping their eyes open. Meanwhile, they’re invited to keep their ears open this weekend to enjoy a rare, rich pairing.
Performances start at 7:30 PM; $21 at the door.