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 3RIO - Alexandre Côté Gary Schwartz Jim Doxas

December 22, 2016

We'd said it before, sax player Alexandre Côté is a well-kept secret. Spiritual inheritor of a long tradition of saxmen from Cannonball Adderley to Dave Turner, cornerstone of large orchestras and big bands, his work is always exemplary without compromise to the whims of today's sounds. This new project and CD from 3RIO, which is at the right time for any last-minute Xmas gift ideas, will surprise you. At the first listen, our friend Côté seems to have put aside his full and warm playing for a different approach along the lines of Steve Coleman. The other surprise is the organisation of the trio, or should we say 3RIO, no bass, no piano, but lo and behold perky guitarist Gary Schwartz and fearless drummer Jim Doxas. Right off the bat it must be said, the revisited and corrected standards, bridges and playing requires some muscular listening.

So on to the heart of the matter. In sum and when examining the songlist, one could expect a quiet album, but alas no! With many standards such as Close Your Eyes, Monk’s Dream, You Stepped Out Of A Dream (click to see our video), 3RIO sometimes like to deconstruct, without it being all across-the-board. Even if the approach is not obvious to listen to, you have to recognise that the harmonic work and re-writing gets those neurons going, and allows us to see past the super well-known pieces. If the saxman plays with much maturity and inventivity, what about the brilliant guitarist and his replies, his sometimes rock sound, kept in time with a drummer that masters his trade. This is some heavy-hitting jazz that will please jazz aficionados.

for our video of You Stepped Out Of A Dream filmed at l'OFF Jazz, it's here

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Misses Satchmo - Is That All There Is

December 8, 2016

Wondering why Misses Satchmo is so popular? The answer is quite simple, they make people happy! Having seen the jazz band a few times, at concerts and at many of their Festival International de Jazz de Montréal gigs, I can tell you their playing is always great, respecting a certain tradition as well as adding a very communicative joie de vivre. Some might say that this immortal genre of jazz, heard and played thousands of times should be rejuvenated, nonetheless it's the best way to initiate a large public to standards that are part of the american culture.

Misses Satchmo is Lysandre Champagne, trumpeter and singer, Blanche Baillargeon on the bass, Marton Maderspach on the drums, Yvan Belleau at the clarinet and saxophone as well as guitarist Jeff Moseley. Recreating the era of smoky bars and other New-Orleans clubs, the happy quartet dips into what is described a traditional repertoire. Those who know trumpeter Louis Armstrong, pianists Fats Waller/Earl Hines, soprano sax Sydney Bechet or trombone player Trummy Young will find a bit of musical heaven after a listen of this recent release. When we take a closer look at the proposed tracks, it's practically a return in time, played with taste and creativity. From Old Man Mose to Tight Like This, part of the King Louis repertoire, with some Jonah and The Wales and Ain't Necessarily So, this is the music of legends. For anyone who's interested in discovering jazz, this release is a gift for each and all.

www.missessatchmo.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Thomas Carbou Patrick Graham - Impulse

November 24, 2016

I didn't really know guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Carbou. Percussionist Patrick Graham, I knew, but it had been a while. Might as well say that this new release that's far from jazz is something new, but ancient as well, a crossing of styles like it's been heard before. For example with griot Don Cherry on the pocket trumpet, who built his sound on musical multiculturalism. When thinking back there's also the Taraï des Hadouks collective, Yussef Lateef, a few oud players and guitarist Santana in his Aquamarine period. All that to say that those looking for typical pure jazz should think of something else, but for the others they will find in Impulse something to nourish the realm of dreams and meditation.

In a kind of conversation/dialog with some singing, both musicians, without doing mantras, are in world vein. Fine guitarist, Thomas Carbou lays down some pristine riffs, with arab and hispanic grooves, while respecting the exchange with percussionnist Patrick Graham. The titles are like the music, poetic, such as Ombres d’opalines, Topaz, Annica or Vents et marées. In the vast realm of jazz, our two players have found their space and sound.

www.thomascarbou.com

http://patrickgrahampercussion.com/

for a few Impulse excerpts  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neAHTdUG01U

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Jean-Pierre Zanella - Quattro Venti - 2016 #1 CDJazz

November 10, 2016

A dedicated St-Laurent Cégep teacher, playing jazz and other genres for the last thirty years, saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella is a key player on the Quebec jazz scene. Always willing and able to help younger musicians, he also manages to write music, that honor the profession. Back in October he launched Quattro Venti at the OFF Jazz Festival, a major album that he elaborated while in Italy. For this inspiring new release which is an ode to travels, far from his beloved Brazil, with poetic titles such as : San Marinella, Molambo, Orti Giancolesi and of course : Quattro Venti. So let's be clear about this album, we're not talking about neapolitan serenades but 100% jazz compositions. Surrounded by a solid group, including drummer Paul Brochu,  bassist Rémi-Jean LeBlanc, his daughter Sashana that sings in portuguese, 2nd drummer Kevin Warren and other distinguished guests, hop on, we're going for a ride...

In Jean-Pierre Zanella's world, nothing is left to chance. On top of some solid harmonic concepts that betray his professionalism and a lot of knowledge, ranging from swing to hard-bop and some modern forms, Jean-Pierre delivers a beautiful message. A bit like Duke Ellington did with Tourist Point of View, inspired by a middle eastern tour, Quattro Venti is an insider's visit to Italy, a savvy mix of balads and smart compositions. Without ever taking the easy route, Zanella, like a master silversmith, offers us a work of art worth discovering.

To see our video of The Ride filmed at L'OFF Jazz,
it's here


www.jpzanella.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Jazzamboka - Jazzamboka

October 27, 2016

Even if the world of music is in turmoil, as far as concerts and CDs, but not as much online, some smaller companies bravely continue to ply their trade. The 270 Sessions is one of those companies as they pursue their goal with unfalthering faith, using social media and concerts to promote their music. On the footsteps of Hard Bop 5, a brand of pure swing played with intelligence, it's time to make room for jazz with a world flavor. Even if this is not a new idea, the 5 members of Jazzamboka have some great musical ideas that will certainly please a larger public.

Yes you'll hear percussions, african grooves, but also funk and hip-hop, which creates the unique sound of this self-titled debut album. From start to finish Jazzamboka welcomes us to a certain joie de vivre, a crossbreed of jazz with a sound not unlike the Masters of Morroco with pianist Randy Weston. Like alchemists, they vary the ambiances with a certain musical tension, reminding us of a way of life that you can find at the Mont-Royal tam-tams, among others. A beautiful new release, hard to categorise, but that will catch on with a public with open ears.

Émile Farley : bass
Julien Fillion : alto & soprano sax, flute, keyboards
Félix Leblanc : keyboards
Elli Miller-Maboungou : ngoma (congo drums)
Noel Mpiaza : drums

To see our video of Statement at the 2016 International Jazz Day, it's here

Jazzamboka on Facebook
jazzamboka.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Joe Sullivan Big Band - Unfamiliar Surroundings

October 13, 2016

Trumpet player and composer Joe Sullivan cultivates a certain nostalgia for large orchestras, and that's a good thing. Since the great Vic Vogel has "retired", big bands are seldom, maye because supporting and sustaining a large orchestra takes a lot of effort. Apart from l'Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal, pianist Lorraine Desmarais and saxophonist Yves Turgeon and their respective big bands, our musicians don't get to play too often in large groups.

For this double album launch, Joe Sullivan makes no compromise. This is hard-hitting music, powerful suites that require some attentive listening without it being overly academic. As he'd done to highlight trumpeter Laflèche Doré (The LIghtning Suite) many years ago, Joe Sullivan chose the path of the Suites, a high-octane method to express strong ideas. When opening the record sleeve, the first listen is the October Suite, featuring many great musicians including trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier, guitarist Lorne Lofsky, drummer Dave Laing and eminent pianist Andre White.

In postcard formats, next track I listen is the Suite Laurentides, a beautiful tribute to this part of the country in which Joe Sullivan shows us his total mastery of the flugelhorn, like saxophonist André Leroux on the title track of the album. Never in the same mode, his compositions offer a kaleidoscope of jazz with essences of Gil Evans, Marty Paich and no doubt Shorty Rodgers. Let's mention the long-term work as well as the vitality of the musicians that have nothing to envy of our american cousins.

Let's hope there's a concert soon!

To see our video of Let's Go from the October Suite at the album launch Sept. 20th, it's here

Joe Sullivan Big Band on Facebook
joesullivan.ca


Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Andrée Boudreau Michel Dubeau - Da Ha

September 29, 2016

Involved for many years in jazz pianist Andrée Boudreau will surprise you with this new release that you could describe as spacy. Knowing she's an avid traveler, she's brought back from her travels japanese sounds that blend well with jazz. In this fall period, Da Ha will probably tag along here and there, bringing serenity and peace after a hectic day. Even if this kind of fusion is not something new, think back about what was done at a certain time with flutists/saxophonists Yussef Lateef, Sam Rivers or trumpeter/griot Don Cherry, we support this brave initiative.

On nine tracks, the pianist and his accomplice, flutist Michel Dubeau, with the support of percussionnist Dany Richard, are in a conversation. Of course, this is not your typical jazz, so let's keep an open mind. In a weightless mode after two listens, we can sense a direction with tonic jazz accents that sometimes remind the universe of the great Randy Weston. To understand the music, let your spirit drift with the movement and, why not, into an ancestral japanese mode.

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Piano Caméléons - Piano Caméléons

September 15, 2016

These days, you practically gotta play it all. If jazz is the musical groundwork of these two musicians, you have to agree that Piano Caméléons are quite captivating,  especially when you're talking about John Roney and Matt Herskowitz. Althought John Roney knows his way around jam sessions and jazz, Matt on the other hand has a career in both the classical and jazz worlds. Saturday Sept. 17th (7pm ) and Sunday, Sept. 18th (2pm) at l'Espace Oliver Jones (5445 rue de Gaspé), they launched this new release doubled-up with a concert well worth its weight in gold.

In a serene and non-competitive spirit, the two musicians have merged their musical experience for very surprising musical overview. Whether you're a fan of the eighty-eight note instrument, simple amateur or neophyte, this will please you. On nine tracks we visit different universes such as Bach : Prelude no 2, Debussy, with the essential Clair de Lune, Rachmaninov for the Prelude in do minor or Chopin with one of his numerous nocturnes.

Joining intensity and reflexion, the John Roney / Matt Herskowitz tandem creates sparks, not at all academic, so it's a real treat. Talking about jazz, two tracks have been chosen and not the least : Fascinatin’ Rhythm (Gershwin) and the very capricious Blue Rondo À La Turk by Dave Brubeck. Again, those four hands do miracles with the relectures.

A fall treat!

Piano Caméléons

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 SOA - Reflections

September 1, 2016

A mix of some great soul and funk, singer Chrystelle Maechler and her trio SOA  achieve some real nice things here. With the ongoing summer, here's a somewhat new release that's right on time. After two listens, we're surprised by the warmth and thrill of the voice which often recalls the best of the 70s soul sound. In trio format, and with no safety net to fall back, the young artist gives it all she's got on personal compositions and some covers. Talking about the covers, she recaptures the very moving Smells Like Teen Spirit (Kurt Cobain),  as well as Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, rendered with precision and just right, and to top it off See Line Woman by the late Nina Simone.

After just those three tracks, I'm sold!...but that's not all, there's more to come. With her personal compositions the singer presents songs without ever copying the great jazz/blues singers from the past, even if the influence can be heard. Althought Mood swing is an ode to jazz, with some modern inflections, Compared To What is sexy and summerish. She lays it down once more on Back In Emotion, certainly the strongest and most personal work here, as well as Why Can't You Say. Somewhere in between the passing of the torch and modernity, SOA cooks up a suberb dish of music to be savoured slowly, like a glass of fresh rosé.

Chrystelle Maechler, voice and compositions
Thompson Egbo-Egbo, piano
Moïse Yawo Matey, percussions

https://soajazz.bandcamp.com/

Editor's Note : Chrystelle was also in charge of writing our jazz gig of the week chronicle and worked on many interviews with us at the Mtl Jazz Fest from 2011 to 2014! Bravo Chrys!

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Beth McKenna Jazz Orchestra - Home : Montréal

August 18, 2016

I admit I hardly knew tenor sax / bandleader Beth McKenna. From Nova Scotia, she's done most of her studies in Montréal with different teachers such as Rémi Bolduc, Christine Jensen and Chet Doxas. Even if I'd heard her in many recent jazz festivals, this large jazz orchestra album is quite different. Mostly made up of young montrealers, let's mention trombonist Hélène Lemay and trumpeters Rémi Cormier / Hichem Khalfa, this Home : Montréal has some interesting ideas. Beth McKenna compositional work was mentored by Christine Jensen, John Roney, Darcy James Argue and Jim McNeely, giving the young saxophonist and orchestra quite a boost.

On four well orchestrated tracks / movements, we easily recognise the influences and writing style, and mostly the important contribution of the master that was Gil Evans. Less impenetrable in its aesthetics than l’Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal, but not far from, this musical vision requires some attentive listening. Miles away from what Ellington, Basie or Kenton did, Beth McKenna presents a poetic approach where all the pieces find solace in the meshing of atmospheres. It could use a bit more swing, you know that foot stompin' kind of jazz, but our work is to support young artists that dare. In the end, bravo for the orchestra's direction as well as the message.

Keep your eyes on this young lady who's got good ideas and great musicians.

To see our video of Start, from Beth's previous album, it's here

http://www.bethmckenna.ca/

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 MTL HB5 - Case No 5

August 4, 2016

Legendary drummer Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers knew what they were doing. To please a crowd you need some good hard swing, strong & creative musicians that can get into musical acrobatics and some catchy themes. Over the years the Messengers became a reference and Montreal's Hard Bop Five happily draw from that spirit. Around bassist Frédéric Grenier, trumpeter David Carbonneau, pianist Jonathan Cayer, drummer Alain Bourgeois as well as tenor sax Cameron Wallis, they tell nine stories of swing that come to life. In a tradition led by drummer Art Blakey to trumpet player Lee Morgan, as well as pianists Bobby Timmons/Horace Silver, this fine collective give us a little something where fun joins robust.

A little bit In the spirit of music scores from cinema noir or police novels, In The Kitchen, Dual Dimension or Mr. Hitchens, all lead to some toe tapping and head swaying, as hard bop should. You don't have to be a jazz specialist to enjoy this young group's music. Without copying or changing the root of it all, it evolves in a productive vein that works. Sometimes jazz is looking for itself. Not in this case.

To see EST filmed at the July 4th Quai des brumes launch, it's here

the270sessions.com/artistes/montreal-hard-bop-5/

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Christine Tassan et les Imposteures - Entre Félix et Django

July 21, 2016

Guitarist/singer Christine Tassan et les Imposteures play gypsy jazz that's always a hit. No doubt she's one of the worthy successors of this immortal genre, quite popular with our european friends as well as all over the planet.

With a lot of drive, continuity and history, Christine and her friends skillfully play this genre that draws a swing-loving public, and that will lead to some foot tapping. Being adventurous, she chose to connect, with the help of her friends, Félix Leclerc songs to those of the greatest gypsy jazz guitarist ever : Django Reinhardt.

Ideal listening for nice summer evenings, reminiscent of the Saint-Germain-Des-Prés period and the Tour de l’Île by the great Félix Leclerc, this release is a favorite that'll make you happy. With a great album cover that's close to a comic strip, Entre Félix et Django is a real tour de force.

With their very contagious humor, we go from P’tit Bonheur to Minor Swing, from Tears to Notre Sentier or from Mouche à feu to La pêche à la mouche.  

Félix would've been very happy!

Christine Tassan : solo & rhythm guitar, voice
Martine Gaumond : violin, foot tapping, and voice
Lise-Anne Ross : rhythm guitar and voice
Blanche Baillargeon : basse and voice

to check our video of Entre Félix et Django, it's here

www.christinetassanetlesimposteures.com/


Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Rafael Zaldivar - Oneness

July 7, 2016

Having studied at the Institut Supérieur des Arts in Havana, cuban-born pianist Rafael Zaldivar is a musician you just can't avoid. Since his arrival in Montréal in 2005, he's had many collaborations and worked with many bands. In the heart of Montreal's high season of jazz he's just released a new CD, a crowd-pleaser, whether you're into jazz or not.

Entitled Oneness, we discover a pianist who tells a story from track to track, reminding us of his imposing musical heritage and that plays like a gentle tropical breeze. If, by chance, a member of your family or yourself play  the piano once in a while, this little gem will certainly encourage to pursue. Of course you've got the take your time, slow down and listen quietly to fully appreciate this album. In between the fine writing, the subtlety of the compositions and the delicate phrasing, this will beautify your summer.

The tracks :

1 - Oneness (RZ)
2 - Eyesight (RZ)
3 - Pregonero (RZ)
4 - Besame Mucho (Consuelo Velasquez)
5 - Circularity (RZ)
6 - Danza Negra (RZ)
7 - Décima (RZ)
8 - My Guaguanco (RZ)
9 - Don and Heather (RZ)
10 - Guantanamera (José́ Fernandez Diaz)

http://rafaelzaldivar.com/

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Rachel Therrien - Pensamiento (Proyecto Colombia)

June 23, 2016

Trumpet/flugelhorn player Rachel Therrien is on a roll with a number of projects. After last year's Grand Prix from the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, she's laid her tracks for herself in NY as well as multiplying latin music collaborations. Lead trumpeter in Kumbia Project, she's also into Colombia's music with this new release, Pensamiento, in which she's poured all her energy, no doubt.

In between jazz and world music, Proyecto Colombia is a huge patchwork that connects fifteen musicians as well as guests. More than just a nicely done CD, which counts by the way, on some solid musicianship, this mix of genres touches will generate broader appeal for a public looking for musical horizons that expand from jazz. Even if Pensamiento's music can be danced, it has a lof of power, and eleven tracks that render some pretty intelligent latin sounds, and not the Club Med type. Keep your eyes on this young trumpeter with lots of new ideas.

https://racheltherrien.bandcamp.com/album/pensamiento-proyecto-colombia

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Joel Miller Sienna Dahlen - Dream Cassette

June 9, 2016

Saxophonist Joel Miller is getting ready for his July 6th concert at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, where he'll be presenting his latest project : Dream Cassette. Somewhere in between world music and aerial jazz sprinkled with a dash of soft poetry, this new release is thought-provoking. Surprising in many ways,  Dream Cassette highlights Sienna Dahlen, and is inspiring and meditative, such as on Warm Lake. We're a little bit reminded of Karen Young's translucent voice of a certain period.

After a few listens, we're surprised to rediscover sounds of the past, like the saxophone/guitar pairing, with background voices or the rock/fusion universe such as on Streamlined, a possible reference to cult-group Uzeb. This elaborate record was done with a lot of means, and really stands out from the traditional jazz opus. On twelve tracks rich in creative concepts, trombonist Dave Grott, trumpeter David Carbonneau, bassist (and sound engineer) Paul Johnston, as well as tabla player Shawn Mativetsky, and a few more. A nice surprise.

Joel Miller, saxophones, voice, piano, acoustic guitar, tanbura, percussions
Sienna Dahlen, voice
Dave Grott, trombone
David Carbonneau, trumpet
Francois Jalbert, electric guitar
Jordey Tucker, electric & acoustic guitars
Daniel Thouin, piano, keyboards
Simon Pagé, electric bass
Fraser Hollins, electric bass
Paul Johnston, acoustic bass
Kevin Warren, drums, percussions
Shawn Mativetsky, tabla, Dhol
Amelia McMahon, voice

joelmillermusic.com
siennadahlen.com

Wednesday, July 6th at the Club Jazz Casino de Montréal, place SNC Lavalin @ Festival International de Jazz de Montreal

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Lorraine Desmarais Big Band - Danses, Danzas, Dances - 2016 #4 CDJazz

May 26, 2016

Dear Lorraine Desmarais!  Whether with her trio, in a duo with another pianist, playing solo or with her big band, her work is always that of a great craftman. For the last twenty years we've followed the career of this great pianist with undeniable talent, and with this new release, congratulations are in order! As always invested in her writing, she gives us Danses, Danzas, Dances, a cure against boredom and triple tip of the hat to swing. In a spirit that could be a bit Billy May, sometimes Stan Kenton, and of course we're reminded of Cuban Fire, her big band nails it. If in its essence there's a lot of latin music here, there's a lot more than that at hand.

Take for example Reggae Do!, Olivier as well as Ultra Triple Swing, and you'll hear a lot of non-latin jazz. In the latin department, Lorraine Desmarais does miracles. You won't be able to resist her Habanera, Bolero Romantico or a Milonga that could get you all worked up. So, treat yourself to this new release which is not at all circumstancial. With all her heart and soul, she cries out  «Dance»!.

Saturday June 25th at the Domaine Forget in Saint-Irénée de Charlevoix
Friday July 1st at l’Astral part of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Philippe Côté - Lungta

May 12, 2016

Young tenor sax Philippe Côté dives head first into this ambitious adventure with sidekick alto sax David Binney. In a Gil Evans / Maria Schneider spirit, he welcomes the jazz lover to discover this contemplative adventure named Lungta. It takes a bit of patience, time and some good listening to get all the nuances of these very personal compositions, that are sometimes a bit redundant. Let us make no mistake here on the sense of this endeavour which is in itself colossal.

Surrounded by a powerful machine, namely a large orchestra composed of top musicians, Philippe Côté expresses a certain form of jazz, a bit hermetic, but that deserves an audience. We can recognize compositional skills, but it could use a bit of swing, something with gusto, like Charles Mingus and his Workshop, Duke Ellington or simply Gil Evans. There's a lot of great playing here but it's maybe a bit too serious. With a bit of life this long poem could certainly take on different colours.

philippecote.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 MISC - 2016 #5 CDJazz

April 28, 2016

Talented pianist Jérôme Beaulieu - the other guys are good too !  - switches the trio's self-titled name to MISC. MISC - like miscellaneous  - or how to change your band's name without losing your soul - and their music is a treat.  Authentic in it's essence, the trio evolves and pursues it's quest for accessible jazz, with a unique sound. To stand out from that brand of jazz that sometimes spews out things that are  hard to digest, the three friends are cooking up some tasty jazz. This unity, or if you prefer the art du trio, shines thru on Unlucky, Overgrown, is creative on La fin, a 8 minute piece and the rhythmically charged Respirer dans l’eau.

Let's also mention the impeccable work of bassist Philippe Leduc as well as drummer William Côté, two complete artists, more than sidemen, that complete the trio.

In the end, MISC is a beautiful new release that brings to life the work of three blue-note lovin' musicians that still believe in creation and emotion.

check out our interview by clicking here

check out Les Années Molles by clicking here

misc.band

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Michel Cusson - solo

April 14, 2016

For guitar aficionados and jazz fusion buffs, Michel Cusson was Uzeb's guitar hero. He played faster than anybody else lining-up an incredible and dizzying quantity of notes, even for hardcore guitar fans, going full force, but without it being smoke and mirrors.

A discreet man, Michel Cusson is also a brilliant composer. Just think of the music of Séraphin, Omerta, les Légendes Fantastiques or Cavalia, which make up an impressive body of work. In between two trips, going back to the solitude of his studio, he's inspired by a series of photos of a family trown in the sea by a panicked woman. From this reconstruction came out this great album that from track to track is like a cosmic trip. Michel Cusson takes on life and his souvenirs in a ambiance that's sometimes symphonic, sometimes intimist. On his six-string or electric guitar, this project recalls more than once Carlos Santana's Aqua Marine, and the twelve tracks are a blessing.

Without it being ambiance music, this Cusson solo will certainly yield another public. Another way to rediscover this quiet and talented musician.

For more info, michelcusson.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Jacques Kuba Séguin - Litania Projekt - 2016 #2 CDJazz

March 31, 2016

I'd discovered the first crop of the Litania Projekt at the 2014 Montreal Jazz Fest. In spite of some reservations, I'd written that this east-to-west voyage carried a message, the one that combines classical themes with jazz. Composer, trumpeter and arranger Jacques Kuba Séguin has been working out this music over the last two years and this is the result. This project also presents Montreal's Quatuor Bozzini, from the classical world, as well as many other musical spheres.

In the same spirit, Astor Piazzolla comes to mind, but also the Modern Jazz Quartet with a sound that's is current, Charles Mingus and his Workshop, as well as certain Ellington suites. Knowing these are difficult times in the music world, you gotta have faith to produce this kind of project that require much ressources.

Jacques Kuba Séguin doesn't do things lightly. This project takes us to the european continent, eastern Europe to be precise, and mostly his native Poland. For those of you who'll want to skip certain tracks, we strongly advise not to. Litania Projekt with its four movement suite is a work of art to be savoured slowly, with all of its nuances. Previously I mentionned Ellington, but even more Gil Evans and his Out Of The Cool. After all that being said, Jacques Kuba Séguin created some powerful music, and is a great advocate of a blue note mixed in with some classical.

Jacques Kuba Séguin, trumpet and compositions
Jonathan Cayer
, keyboard and piano
Frédéric Alarie
, bass
Jim Doxas, drums

Quatuor Bozzini
Stéphanie Bozzini Isabelle Bozzini
Clemens Merkel Alissa Cheung

For more info : jacqueskubaseguin.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Brubeck en tête - Suite Points On Jazz - 2016 #3 CDJazz

March 17, 2016

Everybody knows pianist Dave Brubeck. From Take Five to Blue Rondo à la Turk and Three To Get Ready, he was loved by millions that dug his unique rhythms. Classically-trained, like clarinettist Benny Goodman, Brubeck composed many pieces with a symphonic sound in a carreer that spanned many decades. Points On Jazz by percussionist Vincent Dionne, that you should be holding in your hands soon enough, is part of that movement. Surrounded by our best local talents including Jean-Michel Rousseau, pianist, Michel Dubeau, clarinettist and soprano sax,  Jean Cyr, bass, Marie-Soleil Bélanger, violon, as well as other musicians, this new release is a treat.

It must be said, Points On Jazz, is an exquisite release and a treasure to be discovered. In a hushed universe and his unique rhythms, we rediscover the Brubeck of the 60s, the one that gave another and unique sound to the blue note. For connaisseurs and other aficionados, some of this music can be defined as european, such as The Branderbug Gate, The Goldern Horn, Koto Song or the operatic suite The Light In the Wilderness. It might takes a bit of patience and a focused space to hear and listen all the subtleties of this immense work.

You have to acknowledge that getting together a important project like Points On Jazz in these uncertain times and with such great musicians is a true achievement. As the musical forms are hybrid, it would'nt be a surprise if they played at the Salle Bourgie of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, or the Montreal Jazz Fest...

To find out more, listen to some samples, see a few videos of the project, visit https://www.reverbnation.com/brubeckentete

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Olivier Babaz - Odd Light

March 3, 2016

Fine bassist, Olivier Babaz like to create atmospheres, and they are often very inspiring. With this new release, we oscillate in between jazz with some fusion to personal compositions that mostly highlight guitarist François Jalbert.  If Corail rouge is a rather tranquil piece, the exchanges in between the musicians - that also includes drummer Mark Nelson - take centre stage on Snark Attacks, Monkster or L’appel du vide P2. There are influences on this CD, especially if you listen to the guitarist, that often reminds of Pat Metheny a lot and sometimes Paco De Lucia.

To the bassist that knows well the art of the trio, we congratulate him for the unity as well as all the space that he makes for his collegues as well as creating little moments of escape. Even if we define this album as being jazz, you have to look further, to the realms of world music and folk music and that incite the listener to a voyage. If the revisited version of Footprints (Wayne Shorter) is quite nice, we also enjoyed track 8 with Instant Shape, a tribute to great bassist Major Holley.

In the end, a hybrid release worth some focused listening.

To listen to samples :

olivierbabaz.bandcamp.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Gilles Bernard Quartet - 4 rue Durocher

February 18, 2016

I admit that I hardly knew pianist Gilles Bernard. Nevertheless, this musician who's isn't a newcomer plays the blue note in a very personal manner that pleases. In a quiet and serene space that gives a sense of time and imaginary or true spaces, 4 rue Durocher is another good example of  jazz «made in Québec».  Surrounded by his longtime accomplice bassist Pierre Côté, plus a few younger musicians that dive into this brand of evolving jazz, such as tenor sax player Thiego Ferté and drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel.

In these seven tracks to be discovered, this freedom-loving jazz with poetic titles such as : La reine des cimes, Marie, Agathe or l’énigme du 401 boulevard charest ouest. This CD touches the heart and the mind with a number of original compositions.

All is said and done, take your time listening, it's worth it.

gillesbernardjazz.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Alain Bédard Auguste Quartet - Circum Continuum

February 4, 2016

The man behind and in front of jazz label Effendi, heartfelt bassist devoted to practically all that is jazz, Alain Bédard continues to spread the gospel of jazz. To start off 2016, he's just released Circum Continuum, a new opus, full of sensitivity, without a doubt a bridge in between the "classics and the moderns". Surrounded by drummer Michel Lambert, pianist Félix Stussi, that marvelously evokes Bill Evans, and alto/baritone saxophonist Samuel Blais, everything is set for some consistant and very personal jazz.

On 13 tracks, without being superstitious, by the bassist and his faithful collegues, this is a hotbed of ideas and souvenirs such as : Noirceur passagère, Umami de Seine, La Silva Major or Face Time Oracle. A solid bass that supports, a framework for the compositions, the members of the quartet do more than just graft their playing. In a certain way, they are the heart and soul of this jazz writing, solid and accessible, even for a jazz newcomer. No long discourses, but rather a brand of delicate and attractive writing that allows this brand of Quebec-made jazz to travel the world and be exported.

to find out more, click here

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Jason Stillman Quartet - Prelude

January 21, 2016

Like would say french writer/poet Boris Vian so well "Future art is stewing in the pot".  Even in today's music situation, with dropping CD sales, jazz artists continue to produce new records with unwavering faith! Montreal alto sax, Jason Stillman is surrounded by some top musicians : Josh Rager, piano, Fraser Hollins, bass and Dave Laing at the drums to treat us to some contemporary jazz. Without it being explosive, Prelude is far from being circonstancial. Obviously modern in his approach, Stillman makes his space with a sound that's not academic and original compositions.

For example with the very beautiful Quartet Blues and it's rich sound, Suicide Squeeze or Tribute, a tribute to his masters, the band's work and effort has a promising fututre. To get into the musical space as well as the density of the musical architectures, you need to listen this music a few times to sense its artistic vision. Even if it doesn't always swing as much as it could, we acknowledge this often innovative approach that profiles new musical horizons. Once again, keep your eyes and ears open for the young sax player and his band, in one of Montreal's fine jazz clubs.

To see our video of Suicide Squeeze, click here

jasonstillman.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


 Randa - Subtle Thrills

January 7, 2016

I've got to admit I hardly knew singer Randa, but this CD launched in March 2015 was nonetheless a real nice discovery.  Having worked on the global jazz scene since 1992, she's often in between the United States, Europe and Montréal, as with her CD Moon Breeze with pianist Cyrus Chestnut and bassist Michel Donato, a beautiful example of some solid jazz.

For Subtle Thrills, Randa's 4th CD, she's surrounded herself with collection of great american musicians.  Featuring her longtime accomplice, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, followed by saxophonist Antonio Hart, drummer Lewis Nash, bassist Dezron Douglas, as well as trumpeter/flugelhornist Freddie Hendrix and percussionist Roger Squitero. A nice collection of standards, they're not that easy to play sometimes, she gives us Softly As a Morning Sunrise, How Insensitive, All the Things You Are, and a really beautiful Blue Moon.  A warm voice that we like, as well as some great musicians. It may not be a masterpiece, history's hard to rewrite you know, Subtle Thrills is for jazz lovers that like to take their time.

randamusic.com

Christophe Rodriguez is also jazz, classical and book columnist/blogger at the Journal de Montréal


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