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ALL THE QUÉBEC JAZZ NEWS SINCE 2003

JazzBulletin   -   Thursday July 20 2017 to Wednesday July 26 2017

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SJNPRO Bulletin

For jazz musicians and professionals

Interviews with Uzeb, Bria Skonberg, Kellylee Evans, Stanley Clarke, Mark Guiliana and Jowee Omicil.


Here are our interviews with Uzeb, Kellylee Evans, Bria Skonberg and more to come...
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Uzeb is in concert Thursday June 29th at the Montreal Jazz Fest. It's been 25 years since Uzeb, the great Montreal jazz/fusion band played their last concert at the 1992 Montreal Jazz Fest.
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uzeb trois 150x150.jpgUzeb is back after all these years for a R3UNION concert, June 29th 2017 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the Montreal Jazz Fest. So I met guitarist Michel Cusson, bassist Alain Caron and drummer Paul Brochu to find out more about this power comeback and their state of mind. Here are the transcripts from the french video interview.
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CT : What's the feeling to be back together after all these years?

Michel : It's very exciting, I don't get the feeling we haven't played for 25 years but maybe two months. There's a good buzz.

Alain : When we decided to get back together for next summer - which is not a new album project - we listened and scanned our music and decided what we wanted to play. So we've got a great setlist and with today's technology the sounds and arrangements will be even better, updated and with our identities. We want Uzeb to be at the level it was in terms of performance, playing and soundwise. 110% Uzeb!

Paul : For me it's a logical follow-up, I've been working with Michel and Alain in their own projects for those 25 years. It'll be a gas to get back on stage with them, and great to relive that magic.
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CT : So what's the setlist? a best of? a little bit of everything?

Alain : Not a little bit of everything but some very precise things. We've chosen pieces that we felt like playing, riffs that touched us because of the music and the structures as well as a few Uzeb "hits", it'll be a surprise! We're revisiting some arrangements, redoing some parts in a new way, that's the way we work. Each time we play there's always a new idea. We want people to recognise Uzeb. We don't want to do something completely new, we want to play Uzeb. And I think that's what our fans wants. It'll be nice reunion.
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CT : There's the Uzeb sound, can you reproduce that sound today?

Michel : Yes and no. Back then I had a ton of equipment, and it cost a fortune to transport. There's things that would be impossible to re-create. I've always been into technology and today more than ever, I'm fascinated by the level of precision that you can reach with that. As far as I'm concerned it's a huge upgrade of my sounds. Within each piece there are many different sounds that change and I can program those sounds very accurately, so it'll be nice 2017 version. The public will be happy to hear that, like a good wine that's matured. We're a band that has recorded many live albums so there's a lot of here and now, so maybe, maybe a new record after, but not before. So we won't launch a new CD at our concerts, but it might happen after.

Paul : I need certain pads to trigger specific sounds but they'll be much smaller, but with a much bigger sound. It's a lot easier to program than it was.
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CT : What are your sources, your inspiration...

Alain : When I met Michel we played Charlie Parker but right away he plugged in a pedal, I got a bigger amp, added backbeat and that was the start of fusion, or jazz/rock, jazz...with a rock sound. After that there were many other influences. It's always been jazz open to the world. Jazz with improvisation, jazz language, and a sound with influences from all over, and could be cuban rhythms, classical harmonies, etc...I listened to Charlie Parker, Coltrane, but also Weather Report, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock,  Tower Of Power, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, not too much into prog rock except Yes because of Chris Squire, I also listened to Motown and R&B. We were into music that was played with precision, like Steely Dan, with tight rhythms, so more of a pop, or studio attitude, with jazz improv and tight playing.

Michel : It's an interesting question, let me draw a parallel. Everybody's got Spotify, Apple Music, etc. So I went online and searched for Jimmy Hendrix and listened to vinyl albums I had way back and that I hadn't listened for 40 years. I realised that there was a connection, they had a lot of liberty adn they jammed. In the rock world, they were influenced by Miles, and vice-versa. There are phrases that he played and that I recognise and that I play, but I never copied them. There was also Cream, they didn't last long, that's true but when you listen to them, the played a piece for 10 minutes or more. That's a little bit like we what do with our power trio. At the very start Jean St-Jacques (drums-vibes-keys) brought some great things to the group, we then became the final trio and a certain liberty happened. Now, 25 years later we've grown and matured and we'll play with that. It's at another level now.

Paul : Real young, when I was 13-14 years old I played a lot of rock. Then I heard Billy Cobham and it changed my life around. After that I discovered Buddy Rich, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa. I'd put the record and play with it. Obviously, Weather Report, Chick Corea, Miles...
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CT : When you were called St-Eusèbe Jazz, what's the first piece you played in...St-Eusèbe?

Michel : We never played in St-Eusèbe, that's maybe the only error on Wikipedia about Uzeb. The real story is that we were going to do our first show in 1975,  Jean St-Jacques, who was drummer back then (and after played vibes and keys), Luc Beaugrand and me, we looked at the calendar and it was St-Eusèbe's anniversary and and we played in Acton Vale. It then became St-Eusèbe and then Uzeb. Alain joined the group in 1977 and Paul in 1980. We probably played Chick Corea's Spain, something much too hard for  our young age!
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CT : Out of the Uzeb 10 albums, which is your favorite?

Alain : You can't really an artist which is his favorite CD. They're like our kids, they each have their personality and ways.  On each of our albums we always did the best we could do at the time it was done. There are pieces and compositions that are better than others and on each album there is a signature that relates to what we were at the time. Obviously maturity came to our writing, production and all that. If I listen to our very first album (Uzeb live in Bracknell - 1981), it was completely green, young, but the energy was incredible.

Paul : I agree with Alain. Nonetheless, I prefer that trio formula, our last album, World Tour (1990), highlights well the efficiency of the trio.
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CT : What are the Uzeb WOW! moments?

Alain : When I saw Michael Brecker playing next to me...

Michel : When we did the first part of Miles Davis in Toronto as a simple concert-goer. A music lesson in itself. It was in 1985 at Ontario Place, a fabulous moment, magical, 14,000 people, for a hour I was blown away. No just the notes he played, but the notes he DIDN'T play, and how he led the band without a word, just by moving around.

Alain : I have a story about that, I don't know if you remember. We'd just done the sound test and at a certain moment we hear that Miles Davis doesn't want us to play the first part! He doesn't want us to play, it's crazy, it doesn't make sense. Finally they brought him to his hotel and things worked out, whew!. Another story about Miles : He's walking towards me - he was my idol - we'd heard about him and how he could be, I tell myself, I have to say something, I have to say something, what was I going to say...well he walked right by me and nothing came out! I didn't speak english too well back then and what I was thinking of saying seemed so...ridiculous. So I opted for silence, like him. When we played in Djakarta, and Israel too, that was fantastic.

Paul : Playing with Michael Brecker, Don Elias, when we did the Olympia in Paris, great souvenirs.
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CT : What do you listen to these days?

Michel : I don't have a lot of time to listen to music. So sometimes I go on Spotify and Apple Music and type names. It can be electronic music, the other day I was listening to some Meshell NdegeoCello, it can be very eclectic. In jazz I like the old classics that never age. I never get tired of listening to Miles Davis.

Alain : I've always got a Bill Evans album not too far and that I listen to when I don't know where I'm going. Dirty Loops, Snarky Puppy, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and I seach and discover music on Youtube. But when I'm writing music I don't listen to much music and prefer silence.

Paul : I don't listen to that much music, maybe because I work in music. As a teacher, I get a lot of suggestions from my students. Aaron Parks, Ari Hoenig, etc. and some
good old Miles.

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CT : If you could play with anybody, dead or alive, who would that be?

Alain : I stopped playing the upright bass when Bill Evans died, I'd play upright again with Bill Evans.

Michel : There are so many, because I write film music, I'd like to meet Thomas Newman. Ni idol in particular. It's a thrill to share music, a common language and to share it. In Africa many years ago I found myself playing in Dakar with singer Alioune Mbaye Nder, he know Uzeb, I had my guitar, we jammed, it was phenomenal.

Paul : Jaco Pastorius, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock. Miles Davis, I would've loved!
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Uzeb R3UNION
Thursday, June 29th 2017 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the 38th Montreal Jazz Fest
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Interview : Claude Thibault
For the french video interview, that's here
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NY jazz trumpeter/singer Bria Skonberg : adventure and love at the Montreal Jazz Fest, Monday July 3rd, for the With A Twist debut.
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bria_skonberg_3.jpgNY jazz trumpeter/singer Bria Skonberg is at the Montreal Jazz Fest July 3rd With A Twist. The Chilliwack BC-born musician boasts a great trumpet technique matched with an exquisite voice. She's quite the musician, perfomer, entertainer and funny lady. She likes to talk to the audience and give them a laugh. For her a concert is like life and she wants to live the full life experience, she wants to laugh, to cry, she wants the whole thing, to enjoy it and feel it all and share it with the public. Here's few words I had with her a few days ago.
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CT - So Bria you'll be doing the "With A Twist" debut concert at the Mtl Jazz Fest July 3, 2017...could it be any better?
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BS - It's such a great opportunity and I just can't wait to be there, it'll be my Montreal Jazz Fest first. It will be a  great adventure and I love it!
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CT - So we can expect things "With A Twist" as well as some love and positivity on July 3rd?
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BS - With the way things are going on in this day and age in our societies, it think it's the best thing that we can do, we need all the love and positivity we can get! Also, with all this technology and communication in our lives it's good to connect in a real way.
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CT - Bria such beautiful trumpet playing as well as some great singing...how do they share the musical space?
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BS - They both have different voices and it's interesting to see how I work differently on each. They're both lead and carry the melody but I can do things with my voice that I can't on the trumpet and vice-versa. My trumpet playing is usually more out-front. It’s got more power to it, more confident. And singing is a little bit on the quieter side, but not always.
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CT - I didn't know about the 1930s female trumper player/singer Valaida Snow until you came along...quite an inspiration...sassy and talented...
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BS - Yes she was quite the pionneer playing the trumpet and singing with so many jazz greats like Bud Powell. One of her hot tunes "High Hat, Trumpet, and Rhythm" is on With A Twist, she was a worldwide sensation in the 1920s and 1930s.
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CT - On the first day that you moved to NY you played in Washington Square Park and were listened to and got a thumbs up from trumpeter Wynton Marsalis...wow could you expect a better scenario for a small town girl (self-description) living the NY jazz musician's dream?
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BS - Moving to NY was an emotional thing for me as it was the first time I really moved away from my parent's home. So when I was playing at Washington Square Park with a friend and watched by Wynton - which is really a true story - was really amazing. Yes that was great and it was a symbolic thumps up to my NY move.
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CT - Tell us about the New York Hot Jazz Festival that you co-founded...
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BS - I created the New York Hot Jazz Festival with my partner Michael Katsobashvili who's got some of the "big" ideas and I come in with the details and how to make it confortable, especially for the musicians. My other long-term dream was to have a jazz camp, like the ones I attended in California when I was a teenager. It's so much fun, being outside of your regular world with a hundred people that have the same interest who want to be together and be inspired. So every year as a teenager I was in a camp. Now I'm a teacher at the Sacramento Jazz Camp for kids and also organiser of the New York Hot Jazz Adult Camp.
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CT - If a phrase of two what would you like to tell our readers about what to expect July 3rd at L'Astral?
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BS - Oh man...sighs and pauses...I have a hard time describing my music! I love the idea of adventure and what makes live performance so special for me is that we are one part of the equation but the audience is part of that as well, you know I'm always watching the crowd and how it reacts. I don't do the same show all the time so I try to make it specific for the place we're performing with its energy, also it's different if it's a jazz club (indoors) or a outdoors festival show. In some ways there's things and surprises that I'm planning depending on where we are. And it's always great to meet the public, like a blind date you know. It's the first time and then we improvise from there. I get a lot of energy from the crowd and the mood, so I'm excited to meet them. When I see the venue it also gives me ideas about what's going to happen as well.
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CT - Tell us about the band...
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BS - The band that I'm coming with are my favorite players and people, you know it's not just about me and it's like a family. So I'll be with Mathis Picard on the piano, Russell Hall on bass, Evan Arntzen on sax, and Elizabeth Goodfellow on the drums.
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Bria Skonberg (with Mathis Picard Evan Arntzen Russell Hall Elizabeth Goodfellow)
Monday July 3rd 9pm
Le Club Series at L'Astral
305 Sainte-Catherine W.

To hear two pieces from With A Twist
For Allright, Ok, You Win, it's here
For Whatever Lola Wants, it's here
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Interview : Claude Thibault
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Singer Kellylee Evans make a gentle return on stage at Upstairs, part of the 38th Montreal Jazz Fest, Tuesday, July 4th.
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kellylee.jpgCanadian singer/songwriter Kellylee Evans is a chameleon-like performer, whose natural charm and improvisational jazz vocal style have shined on her adventurous journey through jazz, soul, pop and hip-hop over the past decade. Dynamic, hip and modern, she's recently been thru two major events that led to a 18-month hiatus, she was struck by lightning and then suffered a major concussion. So playing at the Montreal Jazz Fest on the Upstairs stage is ideal for a gentle return. I wanted to find out more about the singer and spoke with her from her Ottawa home.
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CT - Kellylee after Fight or Flight, The Good Girl, Nina, I Remember When, your last album Come On has got all the grooves ; r&b, soul, hiphop so what the inspiration behind this particular project?
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KE - I wanted to move and have fun on stage, play music with more energy, a "summer pop" sound that you could listen in your car. We launched it in November 2015 in France, since I hadn't played since my accident. (she was struck by lightning June 8th 2013).
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CT - You easily switch from jazz to R&B to soul, you need this diversity and variety?
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KE - Yes, that's my life because in reality I listen to all kinds of music, just like we like to eat cuisines from all over the world. I can never redo the same thing, because all that I do in life is a bit of everything, that normal right? I'd maybe like to do some electronic music, maybe opera, I love classical music, so there's always a bit of everything.
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CT - I read that Come On tells the story of a woman struck by lightning, and that by surviving decided to take her life in her hands an claim loud and proud her feminity and her love so you were literally struck by lightning?
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KE - Yes it really changed my life and it continues to do so, it will never be like it was. It's been 4 years and 18 months ago I had an accident that led to a cerebral concussion and since then I've kind of been in retreat. This July 4th Upstairs concert will be my first in 18 months and I don't know how it's going to go, will I still like being on stage and will I connect with the public? That's the real difference. When something like that happens, you can't take anything for granted.
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CT - Who are the singers that inspire you?
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KE - I'm now working with a new generation of singers, teaching at Carlton University for the last six months, I was with a student who'd just sung a song that we were working on and she asked me to choose a song, which I don't usually do. There a was a jazz album for kids at the piano and I chose Ella Fitzgerald. I remember that when I started to study jazz, I loved the joy and clarity in her voice. You know I don't listen to much music these days but yesterday I listened to Ella and it reminded me of that time, and I also really loved Sarah Vaughan. But really for me it's also Donna Summer, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. On Come On I was inspired by Diana Ross because I wanted to go back to my roots and the music that I listened to when I was young.
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CT - In regards to the creative process and the arrangments, do you work solo and then work with collaborators like Éric Legnini? How does it work?
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KE - I sometimes records my ideas on my iPhone in my car, in airplanes, on the subway, then I write words that I share with collaborators like Éric. Sometimes they'll have some music and I'll write the words. Sometimes the inspiration comes from a book, a movie or music that's given to me.
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CT - And how different is it when it's your own words?
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KE - I always found that it was easier to sing my own words because I could assume them, it's hard to find someone who writes texts that I'm comfortable with 100%, if there's just one idea that I don't agree with, I can't assume the song. Now I sing a lot of my own songs or I have to agree completely with the words. Words have power.
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CT - Your french is excellent, where did you learn?
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KE - When I went to France to record Nina, I didn't speak french and told myself that I'd learn when I'd get back. So I listened to french radio, watched french movies, read french books and even cooked with french cooking books when I could. I went to France quite a bit, every month for 2-3 years and I loved it. I love flying and going to airports.
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CT - And you'd like to pursue you carreer in America or Europe?
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KE - 18 months ago I thought that I'd move with my family to France because that's where my career was and I was there all the time. Things were harder here, it's a lot easier in France where you can sing to a packed concert venue even on a Tuesday night. But the universe had other plans for me. I could'nt. I decided to stay in my country, with my family and take care of my health, and I'm really happy about my choice. I fell in love with my country and Ottawa because before I used to live in the woods outside Carleton Place. I miss France, Europe and flying, like the stage, but I made a life choice.
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CT - So who will you be with at Upstairs?
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KE - Because it's my first concert since my concussion, there's no drums  and it will be very soft. I'll be with Michael Shand on piano and Ross MacIntyre on bass.  We'll play music from my whole career, from Fight or Flight to Come On.
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CT - What would you like to say to our readers in regards July 4th at Upstairs?
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KE - It'll be a retrospective as well as where I'm at now and the answer to the question - what Kellylee is doing now? When Joel at Upstairs asked when I'd get back on stage I didn't know but I told myself that when I would it would be at Upstairs because of the intimicy, the proximity with the public and the ambiance. I could only do a comeback in Montreal where the public has been there with a concert for each album. It'll also be the first time that I play music from all of my projects in one concert so for the people that only know me from one album, they'll discover the rest! Thanks!
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For more info on this concert, it's here
To see the video of Hands Up from the Come On albulm, it's here
To see the video of Tomorrow In My Turn from the Nina album, filmed at L'Astral in 2011, it's here
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Kellylee Evans
Tuesday July 4th 7pm and 9:45pm
Upstairs
1254 Mackay    
514-931-6808
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Interview : Claude Thibault
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Bassist Stanley Clarke talks to us about his music, playing with new talent, bassists that turned him on, bassists to watch out for, and more...
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Stanley Clarke 150x150.jpgIn this sit-down interview mixed in with some of his Montreal Jazz Fest performance, bassist Stanley Clarke talks about what they're going to play at the Montreal Jazz Fest, Up!, Return to Forever, his repertoire, the new album he's working on, playing with younger musicians which is a jazz tradition, passing it on, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, how he connects with the drummer being a bassist, how his drummers have to be a free spirit and ferociously brave, bassists that turned him on : Ron Carter, Scott LaFaro and Richard Davis on the acoustic bass and Larry Graham, Billy Cox, James Jamerson and Carol Kaye on the electric bass, how he started playing the saxophone when John Coltrane died, what he listens to these days on his home Jukebox, and young bassists we should be looking out for...

For the video interview, it's here

Stanley Clarke - bass
Beka Gochiashvili - piano, keys
Cameron Graves - keys
Michael Mitchell - drums

Interview : Claude Thibault
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Family is first for drummer Mark Guiliana, one of my fav Jazz dans la nuit (Gesù) concerts at the Montreal Jazz Fest July 1st.
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Mark Guiliana concert petit pour primeur.jpgIn this sit-down interview mixed in with some of his 2017 Montreal Jazz Fest performance, drummer Mark Guiliana talks about Family First his latest album, what family means for him, his love of teaching and sharing music - like at Kosa in Montréal - that he wants to give back what he received, the acoustic sound of Family First vs the electronic sound and how much fun they're having playing it, the new album Jersey out this fall and in that vein, the musicians of the band and their commitment, the relationship with the bass player, the relationship with the drums often changing when they're not his, the relationship with the room or the venue and people he'd like to play with.

For the video interview, it's here

For a video excerpt from the concert, it's here

Mark Guiliana - drums
Jason Rigby - sax
Fabian Almazan - piano
Chris Morissey - bass

Interview : Claude Thibault
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Let's BasH - and the party is on with multi-instrumentalist Jowee Omicil, at Jazz d'ICI (L'Astral) at the Montreal Jazz Fest July 1st.
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Jowee Omicil concert petit.jpgIn this interview (in french) with some concert music, Jowee Omicil tells about the BasH, his roots, how the music evolves, what make a concert a BasH concert, where he gets all that energy, his family, the musicians, what he listened to when he was small and that turned him on and who he'd like to play with.

Born in Montréal of haitian parents, living in Miami, Jowee Omicil is a wind multi-instrumentalist and plays in a poetic and harmonious style. He plays the alto,  soprano and tenor sax as well as the clarinet, and he's played them all with many great jazz artists such as Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Richard Bona, Wyclef Jean, Branford Marsalis, among others.

For the video interview, it's here

Pour the video of La Bohème from that concert, it's here

Jowee Omicil - sax
Jonathan Jurion - Rhodes keyboard
Justwody Cereyon - bass
Emmanuel Bertholo Tilo - drums

Interview : Claude Thibault
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