Formed in 1974 by a nucleus of displaced British ‘trad’ musicians and domestic colonials, Ottawa’s Apex Jazz BandTM quickly developed a significant repertoire comprised of both well-known Dixie tunes and lesser-known numbers from the vintage jazz library, each stamped with a unique Apex flavour. From the very beginning, the band maintained a regular Friday night gig at various restaurants around Ottawa where jazz enthusiasts could come to listen, relax, tap their toes, clap their hands, sing, dance and generally unwind at the end of their busy work week. The smoky and boozy atmosphere of the Black Bottom beneath La Gondola restaurant was perfectly suited to the music as a ‘suitably sleazy’ manifestation of the social smoking and drinking standards of the day. The band played there for some 11 years.
For the past 29 years, the band has taken up residency every second Sunday afternoon at the Royal Oak in Kanata Ontario. An English pub with a faithful following for the Sunday afternoon jazz.
Throughout its 45-plus years, the Apex Jazz BandTM has retained its original sound and instrumentation, due in large part to only infrequent personnel changes.
But even this pool of individual talent and experience would not make a good band without a personal desire and commitment on everyone’s part to play as an ensemble, faithfully reproducing the sound of the original music, adding original jazz improvisation and – last but not least – having fun. Today, despite a polished repertoire of well over 200 tunes, the guys still meet regularly in someone’s basement to learn new tunes, revive old ones and to simply relish in the camaraderie and wonderful sounds of the vintage music they enjoy playing so much. Perhaps it is because of these consistencies of personnel and commitment that Apex has outlasted many of its local contemporaries.