Ottawa’s 8-piece jazz ensemble, The Bank Street Bonbons, brought their incredible big band sound to open Bluesfest festivities on the Claridge stage Thursday night. Situated where the River stage once was, the covered structure that now houses the Claridge stage provided welcoming shade and seating amidst the tropical heat. Two trombones, two saxes, and two trumpets ensued in a whirling dervish of brass power that alternated between unscripted improv, layered instrumentals, solos all around, and collective builds. All the while, the constant unwavering rhythmic backbone was laid down by the sousaphone and by the drummer, Mike Essoudry, who spoke with apt613 about their unique sound:

“It’s coming from Funk and Afro beat, with a little bit of New Orleans thrown in. At times it harnesses an older jazz style like Dixieland, which is a different aesthetic but the concept is the same. It sounds chaotic at times, but it isn’t. I don’t want people to be in too much suspense of what’s going on, so we keep some kind of constant, but let everyone in the band do their own thing and it just works.”

Essoudry also moonlights as drummer with fellow Bluesfest performer, Megan Jerome, who also happens to be his wife, and who was busy dancing up a storm in the center of the crowd during the show. The Bonbons have been together for just over two years, released their first album, Move (Nov. 2017), and are presently recording their next album which is due Feb. 2019:

“The new album will be slightly different – more conceptual with a wider variety of instruments: clarinets, flutes, some keyboard, guitar, organ, and lots of percussion. We also have plans to bring in a second drummer/percussionist for our live shows.”

For jazz lovers, The Bank Street Bonbons are a musical treat to the ears, with each member contributing their own wealth of talent individually and as a unit. For more info on the band, visit their Facebook page:

Ottawa Bluesfest runs from Thurs., Jul. 5 to Sun. Jul. 15 at LeBreton Flats Park. Please visit for more info.

*all Ottawa Bluesfest series photos credited to Mark Horton unless otherwise stated*

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