This past weekend Ottawa’s still-in-construction Lansdowne Park complex played host to Sax in the City, an event featuring back-to-back nights of free live entertainment. I was unable to catch every act, but got a good dose of live music from Bosveld, Jack Pine and the Fire, The Franklin Electric, and The Souljazz Orchestra.
Friday night began with Bosveld, this time appearing as a 5-piece band as opposed to their usual duo. The addition of a trumpet, bass, and drums to the normal guitar-sax-vocals set up took the ambient feel of Bosveld into dramatic and powerful indie folk. This show was certainly more exciting, but there was something I missed from what I had heard previously. The new set up was not better or worse, simply different. Bosveld had me entranced for the duration of their set, and the proved to be the highlight of the night. It seems I have been given yet another reason to be excited with their debut album, which should be coming out quite soon. Moral of the story: don’t skip out on openers!
Jack Pine and the Fire
Next up was Jack Pine and the Fire, another local Ottawa outfit. These guys brought some fun and classic folk in their mandolin-fronted ensemble. There was nothing particular fancy or out of the ordinary in this set, but the band provided some comforting old-fashioned tunes with engaging story-telling lyrics. These guys would be great to catch for a relaxed evening in a cozy bar.
The Franklin Electric
The best word I can come up with to describe The Franklin Electric is mediocre. This Montreal group sounded about as standard as an indie rock band can get. There was nothing there for me to sink my teeth into, and I ended up leaving halfway through their set, along with a solid percentage of the already small crowd. The average music combined with some truly terrible stage banter was enough to usher me out of the building. Their frontman had a few things to say about there being a war between Gatineau and Ottawa, and that shows played for crowds of 50 people aren’t really special. I won’t be going to see these guys again.
The Souljazz Orchestra
An Ottawa favourite, Souljazz never disappoints. On Saturday night, these guys (and girl) played some wonderfully funky latin jazz tunes, with no shortage of sax solos. Their groove is infectious, the band is tight, and there is never a dull moment with the Souljazz Orchestra. Every member of the band had some shining moments. Every person in the crowd was gettin’ down. Souljazz had by far the largest dose of saxophone at Sax in the City, with a trio of alto, tenor, and bari saxophones fronting the group. This is the kind of band I could go see with great regularity. If any of you have a chance to see these guys on tour, jump at the chance.
- The unsung heroes of these two days were the sax duo known as Sax Appeal. With a pun like that, I can’t think of a better choice of musicians for some light music in between acts.