Ottawa Jazz Orchestra

boldly beyond big band
About the orchestra

The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra (OJO), based in Ottawa and founded in 2005, brings together many of Canada’s finest professional jazz and symphony orchestra musicians under the direction of bassist Adrian Cho. This unique ensemble has garnered kudos from both critics and audiences for its highly entertaining, innovative and educational presentations of seminal jazz-centric music performed by a wide range of ensembles including small chamber jazz groups, repertory orchestras, neophonic orchestras and a full symphonic jazz orchestra. Each year the OJO performs a full season of concerts at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.

About the music

The OJO’s broad repertoire of music includes original compositions; the gamut of jazz and pre-jazz repertory from as far back as 1850; and jazz-influenced neoclassical works. This extends far beyond what most typical big bands perform. Over the years, the OJO has performed a huge range of seminal jazz music including:

  • The major Gil Evans and Miles Davis suites, Sketches of Spain and Miles Ahead
  • The Johnny Richards suites Cuban Fire and My Fair Lady, My Way
  • The Duke Ellington suites including Such Sweet Thunder, Nutcracker, Peer Gynt, Far East Suite, Liberian Suite, and selections from all three of the Sacred Concerts
  • Eddie Sauter’s Focus suite written for Stan Getz
  • Richard Peaslee’s Concerto Concerto written for Gerry Mulligan

The OJO specializes in authentic performance of early swing music including Ellington’s music of the Cotton Club as well as third-stream music in its many forms. Additionally the OJO has performed a diverse array of original arrangements and compositions including many penned by OJO musicians.

Hire us for your private events

Our roster includes most of the top jazz musicians in the capital region. We regularly put together groups for private events. Contact us if you’d like to chat about live jazz for your event.

2024-2025 Season @ the National Arts Centre

Our new season marks our 20th year of operations. To celebrate, we’re presenting our biggest and most exciting season to date. Full details are below.

Tickets will be available in the coming months. Join our mailing list or follow our page on Facebook to find out when tickets go on sale. Don’t miss out as our concerts always sell out quickly!

Thursday, October 17, 2024, 8 PM

Two and Two is Ten

The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra kicks off its season with a unique presentation featuring four musicians from the orchestra. The musicians will collaborate in a multitude of different duo formats, with two musicians at a time performing in the most intimate and minimal of ensembles. Audience members will have opportunities to influence the programming and performances of the evening. As the musicians explore the possibilities, a few trios, or even the full quartet, may emerge.  Join us for a fun and light-hearted evening of intimate, swinging music and help us launch our biggest and most exciting season to date.


Diane Nalini – voice

David Renaud – woodwinds

Magnus Paulson – guitar

Adrian Cho – double bass

Saturday, December 14, 2024, 4 PM and 8 PM

Hot Like Harry

The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra turns up the heat with a tribute to the great Harry James performed by an 18-piece big band featuring trumpeter Ed Lister and vocalist Diane Nalini. They’ll perform some of the popular tunes made famous by Harry James; rarely-heard, progressive bebop-era arrangements written for the Harry James band by Count Basie arrangers Neal Hefti and Thad Jones; and songs sung with the Harry James band by vocalists including Rosemary Clooney, Kitty Kallen, and Helen Forrest. The band will be cooking with high heat for this one!

Thursday, January 30, 2025, 8 PM

Exotic Explorations

Take a jazz journey to foreign lands and fantastical places with a sextet from the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra as your global guides. In this programme they will explore some of the grooviest, evocative, and ethnically-inspired tunes from the jazz melting pot with contributions from Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Duke Pearson, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington, and more.

If you enjoyed our “Go Go Groove” show last season, you’ll be sure to love this one too!


David Renaud – saxophones, flute

Nick Cochrane – trumpet

Mark Ferguson – trombone and organ

Mike Manny – piano

Adrian Cho – double bass

Mark Rehder – drums

Saturday, February 22, 2025, 4 PM and 8 PM

Black, Brown and Beige

Duke Ellington’s landmark symphonic jazz composition, Black, Brown and Beige is perhaps the most significant work in the jazz repertory. Composed as a musical parallel to the history of the Negro in America, it tells the history of African Americans through slavery, emancipation, civil war, and their ascendancy in Harlem. This seminal jazz symphony was only ever performed in its entirety by Ellington’s orchestra a handful of times in 1943. In the many decades since, it has rarely been heard live.

Now for the first time in Canada, the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, with a 16-piece ensemble, will perform the entire work, as well as other significant compositions Ellington wrote to portray black life. 

While this special presentation will take place as part of Black History Month, this incredible music remains vitally relevant in light of present-day racial equality. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take in this special programme.

Saturday, March 15, 2025, 4 PM and 8 PM

A Dash of Dameron and a Measure of Milt

Pianist Tadd Dameron was one of the most influential and innovative composers in jazz during the swing and bebop eras. Although he wrote music for many other bands including those led by Count Basie, Artie Shaw, and Dizzy Gillespie, it is the magical music that Dameron wrote for his own orchestra, which featured unique instrumentation including French horn, that you’ll hear in this programme.

Montreal vibraphonist François Stevenson will join the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, as part of a 15-piece ensemble, to perform Dameron’s music in the second half of the programme while the first half will pay tribute to vibraphonist Milt Jackson with Stevenson performing in smaller ensembles with OJO musicians.

Don’t miss this sumptuous musical feast with a dash of Dameron and a measure of Milt!

Thursday, April 24, 2025, 8 PM

Mirth and Mayhem

The Ottawa Jazz Orchestra concludes a smashing season with a show of musical mirth and mayhem featuring pianist Mike Manny and guitarist Magnus Paulson. These two giants of the Ottawa jazz scene have, incredibly, never performed together before. This makes us doubly delighted to bring them together as part of a seven-piece ensemble performing an eclectic mix of supercharged swinging standards with unique arrangements written just for this show. Join us for the fun and festivities!


Mike Manny – piano

Magnus Paulson – guitar

Fred Paci – trumpet

Brian Asselin – tenor saxophone

Mark Ferguson – trombone

Adrian Cho – double bass

Mark Rehder – drums



The video clips below include performances from a 2018 tribute to Billy Strayhorn featuring vocalist Diane Nalini, and selections from a 2010 presentation of Duke Ellington‘s Sacred Concerts with special guests Capital Vox and soloists Doreen Taylor Claxton, soprano, Marcus Nance, bass-baritone and Melissa Roy, tap dancer.


All of these live recordings from past concerts are archival quality and not intended for redistribution. We hope you enjoy listening!

  1. Portrait of Louis Armstrong (New Orleans Suite III) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Rick Rangno (trumpet) 2:59
  2. Fontainebleau Ottawa Jazz Chamber Orchestra 4:53
  3. Avalon Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring David Renaud (clarinet) 3:08
  4. Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah) (Far East Suite II) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring David Renaud (clarinet) 3:10
  5. Isfahan (Far East Suite III) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Sandy Gordon (alto saxophone) 3:52
  6. Amad (Far East Suite VIII) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Moe Wozniak (trombone) 4:22
  7. Springsville (Miles Ahead I) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Lina Allemano (trumpet) 3:21
  8. Blues for Pablo (Miles Ahead VI) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Lina Allemano (trumpet) 5:43
  9. New Rhumba (Miles Ahead VII) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Lina Allemano (trumpet) 4:34
  10. The Meaning of the Blues (Miles Ahead VIII) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Lina Allemano (trumpet) 2:41
  11. Lament (Miles Ahead IX) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Lina Allemano (trumpet) 2:12
  12. Arab Dance Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Sandy Gordon (alto saxophone) and Scott Poll (clarinet) 5:13
  13. Paganini Caprice XXIV Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Laura Nerenberg (violin) 3:26
  14. Tres Corazones (Cuban Fire VII) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra 3:21
  15. Chicago Concerto - Stomp (IV) Ottawa Jazz Orchestra featuring Mike Tremblay (baritone saxophone) 4:49
  16. Burrito Borracho Ottawa Jazz Orchestra 4:00


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