Lawrence Greenspon gets ’em jazzed up at arts benefit for Ottawa Jazz Festival

Melody Gardot, Lord Huron, Buddy Guy and Herbie Hancock are among the artists set to take the stage at jazz fest this June

Lawrence Greenspon
Lawrence Greenspon, senior law partner at Greenspon Granger Hill, volunteered as live auctioneer at the Jazz Night Out auction and benefit concert held in support of the Ottawa Jazz Festival at Library and Archives Canada on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Lawrence Greenspon really does deserve a hand (might as well make it the jazz-hand kind) for helping out at the Ottawa Jazz Festival’s annual live auction and benefit concert, held Thursday night at Library and Archives Canada.

The high-profile Ottawa lawyer was the charity auctioneer. It’s a volunteer role he’s performed for decades in Ottawa to help out local charities (his first auction was 41 years ago, in 1982, for Reach Canada).

Still, it was no easy task that night as he sold off 21 experiential packages to an audience of 200-plus at the Jazz Night Out fundraiser.  The evening raised roughly $38,000, according to the festival’s sponsorship manager, James Richardson, while adding that he expects to have a more accurate total by Monday.

The arts benefit kicked off with a reception catered by  Thali/Coconut Lagoon restaurants, and by Arlo Wine and Restaurant. Following the live auction there was a live performance from the Fred Hersch Trio.

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The Fred Hersch Trio performed at the benefit concert held in support of the Ottawa Jazz Festival at Library and Archives Canada on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips

A dinner for four at Arlo, to be prepared by executive chef Jamie Stunt with wine pairings by sommelier Alex McMahon, proved to be a particularly popular item among auction bidders. It raised $1,800 after the restaurant agreed to let the two highest bidders buy the dinner, at $900 a pop. 

“If you drink enough wine, you’ll be calling me later,” joked Greenspon, a criminal defence lawyer, as he kept his audience entertained with his quick wit. His firm, Greenspon Granger Hill, is across from Arlo on Somerset Street West.

Music lovers scooped up special packages to the Ottawa Jazz Festival, ChamberFest, Music and Beyond, and CityFolk, as well as a get-away, courtesy of VIA Rail and a stay at any Gray Collection hotel, to see Diana Krall at the Montreal Jazz Festival. There were staycations available at Brookstreet Hotel and Fairmont Château Montebello, as well as at the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa as part of a larger Outaouais package that included dinner at Les Fougères.

For the more sporty types, they could bid on group tickets to see the Ottawa RedBlacks or the Ottawa Titans baseball team in action, or the Ottawa Senators’ upcoming game against the Carolina Hurricanes. It included a signed hockey stick from Sens captain Brady Tkachuk.

Also sold off that night was the opportunity to hang out with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe at City Hall. It was bought by Ginger Bertrand, president of boutique public relations agency GAB Group. She told OBJ.social during the cocktail hour how she’s looking for more ways to get involved in Ottawa. “I’m so excited to support the community and to support everything that Ottawa is trying to be,” said Bertrand, who relocated back to her hometown of Ottawa from Toronto during the height of the pandemic. 

From left, Lawrence Greenspon, who volunteered as live auctioneer for the Jazz Night Out fundraiser, with his wife,  Angela Lariviere, Ottawa Jazz Festival executive producer Catherine O’Grady, and Richard Goldstein, who’s on the board of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, at Library and Archives Canada on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ginger Bertrand, centre, who was the top bidder on the “Meet Mayor Mark Sutcliffe” package, attended the Jazz Night Out fundraiser for the Ottawa Jazz Festival with her friends, Roya Murphy, left, monitoring and reporting specialist for United Nations, and Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) LLP partner Andrea Pitts on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Attendees that night included the jazz festival’s board secretary, marketing consultant Keith Gallop, and several of his fellow board members. Urbandale Construction president Richard Sachs and his wife, Michelle Sachs attended. So did retired Soloway Wright LLP lawyer Peter Hagen and long-time arts supporters Barbara Uteck, a former board member with the Ottawa Art Gallery, and Susan Carter, a former board chair of OrKidstra. 

Greenspon was there with his wife, Angela Lariviere, and a bunch of their friends, including Kelly Santini LLP partner Pat Santini and Richard Goldstein, who, as a new board member with the Ottawa Jazz Festival, recruited Greenspon as auctioneer that night. 

Goldstein told OBJ.social how privileged he feels to serve on the board and to help a cause that focuses on live music. “This is an amazing opportunity to promote music, especially jazz, in Ottawa,” said Goldstein, vice president of construction and development, at the Kanata Research Park.  “I think this is something that needs to be out in the community a lot more, and I’m going to do my darndest to make it happen.”

Jazz music is unique and, like raw oysters or certain wines, cheeses or beer, is considered an acquired taste. “At some point in your life, you just want to listen to something that’s a little bit more challenging than turning on the latest pop music,” the festival’s long-time executive producer, Catherine O’Grady, told OBJ.social. “And that’s how we approach it. The people who come are the people who are ready for something that lingers a little longer than, you know, 10 minutes on the pop charts.”

Richard Sachs, president of Urbandale Construction, and his wife, Michelle Sachs, were out supporting the live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, visual artist Dawn McArthur with Peter McArthur, vice president,, Joanne Gallop, partner and creative director at BOLD LIP Studio, and Ottawa Jazz Festival board member Keith Gallop, marketing consultant at Temple Partnership, at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Peter Hagen, a retired lawyer at Soloway Wright LLP, with his wife, Mary Thomson, at the Jazz Night Out auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Ottawa’s jazz fest is still in recovery mode from the pandemic. “COVID was a huge challenge, and we are slowly coming back from it,” said O’Grady.

Last year, the festival returned in person for its first time since 2019 but attendance was down. “People were still really reluctant to come out; there was still the COVID hesitancy,” said O’Grady. “We’re really hopeful that all those people who stayed home last year will be out in force this year.”

Many festivals are having to carefully factor increased costs into their financial planning this year, which is why the jazz festival is holding a new golf tournament later this spring  “The pressure is really on us to make money outside of regular ticket sales,” said O’Grady.

Jazz fest has always been an economic driver to the region, helping to fill hotels and to provide business to local suppliers, production companies, and artists. The annual music festival also brings thousands of people to a downtown core that has fewer folks these days as a result of increased remote and hybrid work trends.

O’Grady is of the opinion that the public is looking to leave their quiet and sleepy neighbourhoods to come downtown to reconnect with their community – provided the area has something for them. She believes the jazz festival offers that “magical” experience people are looking for. Much of the festival programming takes place outdoors in Confederation Park and nearby venues, located a quick bebop away from the Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill. 

All proceeds from the Jazz Night Out auction and concert benefit support the Ottawa Jazz Festival, which takes place June 23 to June 30 and will feature such artists as Melody Gardot, Lord Huron, Buddy Guy and Herbie Hancock. 

Leslie Santini and Pat Santini, senior partner at Kelly Santini LLP, and voice actor Mike Giunta at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Aris Makris, vice president/chief technology officer with Med-Eng Systems and Catherine Makris with Serena Singh and Sandy Singh, president of Econo Gas, at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa Jazz Festival board member Jaspreet Kalra from Avaya Canada, with Chris Green, who’s a dealer in fine and rare stamps, at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Audience members bid on tickets to music festivals, sporting events and local getaways during the live auction portion of the Jazz Night Out fundraiser held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Barbara Uteck and Susan Carter at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Ottawa Jazz Festival board member Jacquie Dixon with Gavin McClintock, a past president, jazz vocalist Karen Oxorn and board member Mark Dregas at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Lawrence Greenspon auctioned off an Ottawa Senators game-night package that included a signed hockey stick from team captain Brady Tkachuk at the Jazz Night Out live auction and benefit concert held in support of Ottawa Jazz Festival, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Library and Archives Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
caroline@obj.ca

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