Sweet sounds of sax and swing in supply for the weekend

Legendary jazzman Branford Marsalis plays with the classics, the jitterbug invades the War Museum, and Ottawa's Rob Frayne triumphs on this weekend's list.

Jazz great Branford Marsalis will be in a classical mood when he drops by the NAC Friday

Relive the era of the jitterbug and jive at the Canadian War Museum on Saturday night. (Shutterstock)

Legendary jazzman Branford Marsalis plays with the classics, the jitterbug invades the War Museum, and Ottawa's Rob Frayne triumphs on this weekend's list.

Branford Marsalis

He's a musical force who is also engaging, generous and opinionated: Branford Marsalis will share his music and his thoughts Friday night from the stage of the National Arts Centre's Southam Hall.

"There was always the belief that it's possible."

6 years ago
Duration 1:55
Branford Marsalis talks about becoming a musician in New Orleans.

A prime mover in the world of jazz, Marsalis swings a mean sax, leads his own hot band and composes new work. But the musician is equally at home in a tux and tie, performing classical music to a symphony audience.

The multiple Grammy Award-winner moves fluidly across musical boundaries, having shared the stage with artists ranging from Sting and the Grateful Dead to jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Art Blakey to the world's major orchestras.

Marsalis performs Alexander Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto tonight with the NAC Orchestra as part of Casual Fridays, a regular evening event that includes tapas, drinks and conversation. Marsalis will take part in a chat about music, life and probably much more with guest conductor Andrey Boreyko.

The evening is hosted by Nantali Indongo, member of hip-hop collective Nomadic Massive.

Where: Southam Hall, National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St.

When: Concert starts at 7 p.m., preceded by a free performance by the Petr Cancura Quartet in the NAC foyer at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Admission starts at $25, but same-day rush tickets are available for $15 to those between 13 and 29 and their teachers. To purchase tickets click here.

​Swing the night away

Calling all guys and gals who love to dress to the nines, jitterbug the night away and channel the nostalgia and romance of the big band era: the Canadian War Museum is holding its second annual Swing Dance, and this year it's going to be bigger than ever — it's been moved to the spacious Lebreton Gallery, where dancers can sashay among the tanks and other vehicles of the Second World War. 

Special guest Kellylee Evans will join Peter Liu and the Pollcats in a swinging evening of romantic and joyful ditties from the era — music that provided much-needed relief from wartime fears.

"It was really important for everybody to have some way of communicating and supporting each other and of celebrating in a very dark time," Liu noted.

Where: Canadian War Museum,  1 Vimy Pl.

When: Saturday at 7 p.m.

Cost:  $20, $15 for students, seniors and members. Tickets can be purchased here.

A musical rebirth

Fourteen years ago, prominent Ottawa saxophonist Rob Frayne's car was hit by a truck. Frayne suffered multiple serious injuries that landed him in hospital for months, resulting in permanent damage to his lungs and the inability to swallow. He could no longer play the sax.
Saxophonist Rob Frayne had to reinvent himself after a serious collision 14 years ago. (Sandra Abma/CBC News)

But the music flowing through his veins would not be silenced. Through dogged persistence and years of hard work, Frayne is now back performing gigs across the city. He plays a bit more slowly these days, but he's also found new ways to express himself.

"After getting hit by a truck, you don't really care so much about what people think," Frayne mused. 

"I just play the stuff I really like, and feel good about it."

Where: Rob Frayne and Drumswamp at Ottawa GigSpace, 953 Gladstone Ave.

When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.


Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at