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JazzBulletin   -   Thursday October 10 2019 to Thursday October 31 2019

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Want Christophe Rodriguez to review your CD?

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As is focused on the Québec jazz market, CDs from Québec artists or of artists present in the Québec jazz scene make up a strong pourcentage of the CDJazz content without excluding international jazz artists.

Christophe writes in french and the texts are translated by Claude Thibault.
The comments of Christophe Rodriguez are independant and are not related to any commercial activity in between the artist and

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Claude Thibault
Editor - Business Development

 Josh Rager Nonet - Jondo

December 14, 2017

I know pianist Josh Rager well, like many of you. A Montreal/Quebec jazz club/festival regular, his multiple approach and his confirmed talent allow him to play in many genres. This time around no trio, but a consistant nonet album that make us discover his composing as well as arranging talents. For jazz lovers, this is a celebration. In it's essence, Jondo brings us back to jazz of the sixties, jazz that evolved on the West Coast with the likes of Milt Berhnardt, Shelly Manne, Dave Pell or Richie Kamuca. More than just some easy listening jazz, this is some finely crafted jazz played by some of our best jazz musicians. Joining pianist Joshua Rager are saxophonists Donny Kennedy (alto), Frank Lozano (tenor) and Cameron Wallis (baritone), trumpeter Bill Mahar, trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier, guitarist Kenny Bibace, bassist Dave Watts and drummer Rich Irwin.

For his second opus, the work of Josh Rager shines. Like it happens often, I was afraid that the long suites would be too academic or have too much of a studio sound but no, not at all. For example with Prodigal Son Suite Part 1 and Prodigal Son Suite Part 2 + 3 ideas mingle and create an atmosphere with a singular brand of swing. If you prefer the West Coast sound over Art Blakey's hard-bop, the tone is set for a beautiful voyage. The band is connected and together as can be heard on The Master Waits and the very beautiful No Goodbye that highlights guitarist Kenny Bibace. After a few good listens, Jondo sounds like it could easily the soundtrack of a detective flick. Make yourself happy and treat yourself for Xmas.

Prodigal Son Suite Part 1 / Prodigal Son Suite Part 2 + 3 / Jondo / Child's Play / The Master Waits / No Goodbye / Legged Dog / The Inside Track / Summer Night

To listen and buy :

For more info,

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

 François Bourassa Quartet - Number 9

November 30, 2017

A mainstay of free-spirited jazz and without a doubt one of our important jazz ambassadors abroad, pianist François Bourassa pursues his path with wisdom on Number 9. With the Holidays coming right up, our artists deserve a spot under the Xmas tree, whether it's a CD or a download, so here's a nice opportunity to fill that spot. If you're into mainstream jazz, better luck next time, but if you're just a tiny bit adventurous, this is for you. Always with his trustworthy group made up of saxophonist, flutist and clarinettist André Leroux, bassist Guy Boisvert and drummer Greg Ritchie, this is powerful musical voyage.

Althought we had a hard time understanding and getting the drift of the first track, Carla und Karlheinz, a tribute to Carla Bley and Karl Stockausen, 5 And Less, the 2nd track, makes up for it. Combining modernism and some very beautiful piano phrasing and highlighting saxophonist André Leroux, this is some easier listening jazz. Althought Frozen kept us at bay, Lostage, that once again highlights the saxophonist, is a great calling card. And the ambiance remains with 18 Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, recalling Satie and the intemporality of the somewhat unrecognized Lennie Tristano. In a conversation with the musicians while being upfront, François Bourassa delivers a beautiful piano lesson. Long live poetry and talent.

Carla und Karlheinz / 5 And Less / Frozen / Past ich / Lostage / 18 Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville / 11 Beignes

To listen and buy : Spotify, Amazon

For more info,

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

 Simon Legault Quartet - Hypnagogia Polis

November 16, 2017

Because Xmas is around the corner and because we should be supporting our local artists, guitarist Simon Legault's new album is right on time. Hypnagogia Polis as a title might sound unusual (it can be resumed as the state in between sleeping and being awake) but the music is some very solid, brilliant jazz, with great sequences. Like it often is, no standards here, so some attentive and focused listening will help to get his message. Siding the guitarist is bassist Adrian Vedady, alto sax Jules Payette, pianist Andrew Boudreau and drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel.

On this very consistent album Nimzowitsch Defense stands out. The composition - a tribute to famous chess player and teacher Aaron Nimzowitsch - is a real beautiful ballad featuring all of the musicians. On Hypnagogia Polis Simon Legault is in a very interior mode, playing some very soft and exploratory phrasing, and not lacking any sensitivity. Being a quantic mechanic is not a simple task, so the title Quantum Mechanicians might be a simple reflection in regards to the complexities of composition and its infinite possibilities. This album is a great calling card for saxophonist Jules Payette, proud musical heir of Rémi Bolduc and maybe some Jackie McLean. Sometimes slightly academic, this new album is a great contribution to the Montreal jazz spectrum.

Aethereal spheres (Soundcloud) / Nimzowitsch Defense / The Space Between two Hearts (Soundcloud) / Isms /
The Universe would remain much the Same / Euphemized Blues / Wistful / Quantum Mechanicians

To listen and buy : iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Archambault

For more info,

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

 Emie R Roussel Trio - Intersections

November 2, 2017

Ever since she started playing jazz we've supported and followed the carreer of young Rimouski pianist Emie R Roussel. Trained in the best schools, with the help of father pianist Martin Roussel, she cultivates jazz with charm. Very much influenced by Bill Evans, with a bit of Ahmad Jamal for the percussive aspect, she's creating a poetic universe inspired by her roots and birthplace.

Present on many jazz stages, with Intersections she unveils a new page of her jazz vision. Like many pianists before her Emie R Roussel cultivates the art of the trio with precision but with Intersections, there's some extras. Like the title says, different configurations and approaches such as with bassist Norman Lachapelle, trumpeter Alex French and singer Malika Tirolien.

Surrounded by her inseparable musicians, drummer Dominic Cloutier and bassist Nicolas Bédard, pianist Emie R Roussel creates beautiful dialogues. On Tout Le Monde Ensemble with bassist Norman Lachapelle, De Tadousac à Auckland, home of trumpeter Alex French or Troisième Vague, she sketches beautiful and poetic melodies. Like good wine, the pianist matures with time, even thought she's still young. For those who claim jazz does not evolve, this new release is proof of the opposite.

Troisième Vague / Nulla Regula Sine Exceptione / Away / Aroma d'Aosta / De Tadousac à Auckland / Les Sens À Sens Unique /
Tout Le Monde Ensemble / 'Til Late /  Vingt-Troisième Étage / All the Things You Want in a Bowl

To see the Intersections promo video with it's special guests, it's here

For more info,

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

 Leaf - Leaf

October 19, 2017

And we continue our quest and mission of presenting Montreal/Quebec jazz with this interesting new quartet. Launched in mid-September, Leaf is also the name of the quartet's first album, fittingly named for the fall season. For this project, no interchangeable musicians from one band to the other, but four decicated musicians with compositions to discover. For their first foray in jazz, guitarist Olivier-Grenier Bédard, pianist/keyboardist Éric Kappauf, bassist Jonathan Arseneau and drummer Dave Croteau are into a certain minimalism.

Because the guitar is somewhat the anchor of their sound, this very thoughtful jazz can sometimes sound a bit too academic.They're not into swing - such as with Joe Pass or Jim Hall - Leaf’s musical architecture requires reflexion and focused listening. With the greyness of fall upon us, that should be easy. Like we were saying, the eight original tracks generate ambiances, but lacks a bit of the beat we like to tap our feet to. Without it being overly intellectual - let's not curb creativity - these musicians could've injected a bit of nitroglycerin in the proposed corpus. As we listen to the tracks we discover this new talent that will mature, I'm sure.

Fields / Petit Rocher / Lunes / 456 / Nuit Étoilée / He Dreams of Peace / Rush Hour / Des Racines et des Ailes

Olivier-Grenier Bedard, guitar
Éric Kappauf, piano
Jonathan Arseneau, bass
Dave Croteau, drums

To see the album's video teaser, it's here

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

 Mario Allard - Diaporama

October 5, 2017

The fall season is on with many launches and releases. In the middle of L’OFF Jazz festival that celebrates our jazz in many shapes and sizes, alto saxophonist Mario Allard welcomes us to discover his newest release, Diaporama. This nicely named album contains well crafted personal compositions from a player with an open mind. This powerful and unbridled jazz, that sometimes recalls the explorations of departed alto saxophonist Jackie McLean is modern without it being free jazz. Surrounding Mario Allard are trumpeter David Carbonneau, pianist and keyboardist Charles Trudel, bassist Sébastien Pellerin and drummer Al Bourgeois. This brave and powerful ensemble evolve in a space where rhythms count as much as swing.

Without going around in circles, and exploring in depth the saxophone/trumpet duo, this new release remembers the past, thanks to our elders, as well as a tendancy where the standards make room for something more personal. Slowly we listened to all the tracks and the result is very satisfying. This fresh approach, which is sometimes a bit academic, Mario Allard knows how to give sounds to his ideas. It's hard hitting, tight, captivating and they take risks. I admire this young man that dares.

Snowden / Blizzard / Restart / Filature / Mirages / Street Business / Bherens / Pneumonia

Mario Allard, tenor sax
David Carbonneau, trumpet
Charles Trudel, piano
Sébastien Pellerin, bass
Alain Bourgeois, drums

to listen to excerpts :

check out the launch of Diaporama, Sunday Oct. 8th 7:30pm at Upstairs part of L’OFF Jazz.

for the Oct. 8th launch on FB, it's here

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

 Charles Trudel - Fruit

September 21, 2017

The 2017 music fall crop is bountyful with so many great albums and players tickling our ears. For the last few days I've been listening to Charles Trudel's latest album, Fruit, with a lot of attention and believe me, this one's a keeper. Like it usually is nowadays, no jazz standards but to our greatest joy the sounds of a bygone period that's not yet forgotten. Surrounding this brilliant pianist that can sometimes sound like Ahmad Jamal or Red Garland, which is quite a good start, are alto saxman Benjamin Deschamps, tenor sax Mario Allard, trumpeter Nicolas Boulay, bassist Sébastien Pellerin and drummer Alain Bourgeois.

These not-so-young musicians, even if they're not that old, know their jazz history real well. When closing my eyes listening to this music I'm taken back to the sounds of the famed Blue Note jazz label from the 50s/60s period. Knowing well the style of alto saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps, he's amazing in F pour Facile. Playing truly parkerian tonalities, our friend beckons us to succulent and timeless passages. And there's more, like on  Home Made Rabbit with pianist Charles Trudel playing a torrent of notes, something that the great Erroll Garner would've been proud of, just like trumpeter Lee Morgan would've been for trumpeter Nicolas Boulay, as well as saxophonist Phil Woods for altist Deschamps, taking up the challenge.

But why is it such a great album ? Because the Sextet bridges the past and the present without it being a big head trip like it can sometimes be. Another convincing argument about the quality of this album is listening to beauty of the moves on Nouvelle Direction. The art of the trio is something really beautiful and you can get into it. So we're very happy about this one and if Charles and the band are in your area, check them out.

Fruit / Home Made Rabbit / Six Têtes / Nouvelle Direction / Regarde en Avant (quand tu marches...) / Sourire à Deux Côtés / F Pour Facile / Interlude / Tropical Monkey / Conclusion

Charles Trudel, piano
Benjamin Deschamps, alto sax
Mario Allard, tenor sax
Nicolas Boulay, trumpet
Sébastien Pellerin, bass
Alain Bourgeois, drums

To see our video of Tropical Monkey that they played as 1st part of UZEB, Sunday Sept. 3rd at the 2017 Festi Jazz international de Rimouski , it's here

For more info and gig dates, check out

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

 Frédéric Alarie - In The Spirit of Scott LaFaro

September 7, 2017

A well-known figure in the jazz world, bassist Frédéric Alarie has taken on quite a challenge with this project. In 2015 he was invited by bassist Mark Dresser to participate in a number of concerts and conferences of the International Society of Bassists, where he got to connect with the bass of legendary bassist Scott LaFaro. Gone too quickly at the young age of 25 in a car accident, like trumpeter Clifford Brown, LaFaro was the bassist of great pianist Bill Evans in his first years. Like Jimmy Blanton (Duke Ellington), as well as Charles Mingus, he became, althought he was quite young, a master you had to reckon with. From the dialogue to the rhythmic concepts, Scott LaFaro is a the heart of work of all the bassists.

In this spirit Frédéric Alarie pays a very touching tribute, for all bass lovers, to this jazz comet. On eight heartfelt tracks, he combines doubling up his bass with LaFaro's (which is more than a comparative test), for a true bass lesson. It takes time to assimilate the softness, the fine points of playing bass and the subsequent finesses. With this particularly warm and round recording we highly recommend Advance Confidently and Love Begin. This appetizer, like some fine wine, must be savoured slowly, a rare thing these days. To add to his personal compositions, you'll also recognize Lonnie's Lament (John Coltrane) and the very beautiful Leaving by Richie Beirach with John Roney on the piano and Ron Di Lauro at the trumpet. It must be said, this is an important album for all.

Advance Confidently / Lonnie's Lament / Love Begin / Enjoy / WiseOne / Leaving / You Don't know / G.A.

For more info on bassist Frédéric Alarie :

To listen and buy In the Spirit of Scott LaFaro on Bandcamp :

For Frédéric Alarie on Facebook, it's here

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

 Rachel Therrien Quintet - Why Don't You Try

August 24, 2017

Trumpeter/buglist Rachel Therrien has come a long way since we discovered her at the 2011 Festi Jazz de Rimouski. After reaping the 2015  Festival International de jazz de Montréal TD Jazz Grand Prix, she also got into latin music as well as many trips to the Big Apple (NY) quite a few times. Whether it's with her own band or experimenting with different projects, she always gives it all she's got, strong and proud, with a constant quest for discovery. Next Tuesday August 29th 5pm at Upstairs, she'll be launching the back-to-school jazz fall season with Why You Don’t You Try, an album with lotsa joy and muscle with some fine Montréal musicians.

First thing first, she's joined by alto saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps who's getting great reviews these days, with bassist Simon Pagé, drummer Alain Bourgeois and pianist Charles Trudel. This quintet gives us some exciting jazz, sometimes on the funk side such as title track Why Don't You Try. Immediatly Art Blakey and his legendary Messengers come to mind, because Rachel Therrien's playing evokes a certain Lee Morgan for his sharp traits as well as Freddie Hubbard. And It's not the first time I think this of this trumpeter. Having matured her knowledge the young trumpeter works with unity to get her message throught, a message of living jazz, sometimes flirting with accents of modernism, without ever forgetting the great history of the blue note. From Adirondack Jump to Spectrum, she makes her mark as well as letting her accomplices sign a few beautiful pieces such as Demi-Nuit by saxophonist Benjamin Deschamps or Rocket Launch by pianist Charles Trudel. With this release, the fall musical season gets off on the right foot.

Spectrum / Why Don't You Try / Demi-Nuit / Adirondack Jump / Hayde Santamaria /  CRS / Omelette Coleman / I Am Alone / Tomber En Cinq / Rocket Launch / Miro+® /

Rachel Therrien - trumpet and compositions
Benjamin Deschamps - sax
Charles Trudel - piano
Simon Page - bass
Alain Bourgeois - drums

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

 Ethan Cohn - Plastic Waste

August 10, 2017

As August steps in, the Montreal/QC jazz scene is loaded with releases. Instead of waiting for a fall release, young bassist and composer Ethan Cohn has decided to do it now before everybody else. It's not a surprise, this first release is chock full of talent with close to twelve instrumentalists and singers. However, like it often is, there are no standards to be found, but 7 original tracks. So let's listen a bit and find some points of reference.

For guitarist Matt Schultz, right away I thought of John Scofield, while saxophoniste Chris Edmondson and Claire Devin find their inspiration with Coltrane (he can't be re-invented!). For Ethan Cohn, the bass playing is closer to a rock guitarist than a Jaco Pastorius. In sum, it all holds together and the tracks suggest many parcels of originality, with the feeling that the result is sometimes a bit too academic.

We should tell these young musicians, without sounding like somebody from the dark ages, that a bit of swing can't hurt. Quite the opposite and to be the devil's advocate, the sounds of what would do pianist Robert Glasper will certainly interest those who like to mix genres. It's a good first with some interesting writing, with a promise of even better things to come.

Ligo / Da Vinci Virtual / Corner of My Eye / Native Son / Marifa / The Morning After / Sail Away

Ethan Cohn : bass, guitar, voice and compositions / Chris Edmondson : alto sax
Claire Devlin : tenor sax / Matt Schultz : guitar
Will Kjeer : piano / John Buck : drums
Sarah Rossy : voice / Roman Munoz-Bueno : guitar
Daniel Arthur : piano / Eric Maillet : drums

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

 Fuat Tuaç - Late Bloomer

July 27, 2017

When I received this new release, I thought crooners were a thing of the past, well I was wrong. A Upstairs regular, Fuat Tuaç offers a collection of many standards without large orchestra and brings us back to a certain era. In french, english and italian, he explores many immortals, and it's far from being unpleasant. If you want to support a local artist before moving to the giants that were Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald or Julie London, now's the time. Let's be honest, he doesn't have Mel Torme's suave tone, or Frank Sinatra's legendary phrasing, but with a bit of work and time, he'll make his mark.

With pianist Paul Schrofel, bassist Karl Suprenant and drummer Rich Irwin, Fuat Tuaç gives us his take on the classics of the Great Americain Songbook, among others, in a cabaret style. There's some nice successes here, starting with Estate in italian, Que reste-t-il de nos amours?, Outra Vez or  Never Let Me Go. If he could just lower his tone a bit and stay away from the higher notes, this young man will gain finesse, as well as intensity. For a first, it's already a lot.

Album launch Aug. 23rd at Upstairs.

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

 Sam Kirmayer - Opening Statement

July 13, 2017

With the sun these days being a no-show and refusing to warm us up, let's just stay inside and listen to jazz. If you like the guitar you'll like this new release to be listened to with a good book and why not, a good mojito. I didn't know Sam Kirmayer until know and I was pleasantly surprised to discover this good guitarist that doesn't try to impress with a lot of fast notes. In between Jim Hall and Joe Pass, and that says quite a bit about the guitarist, this new release is played in a classic way without it being too light.

Smart solist, with hints  of blues - the matrix of jazz let's not forget - Sam Kirmayer sculpts melodies, improvises with sublety on For All We Know and of course the title track : Opening Statement, a composition of the departed Booker Little. There's a noticeable unity of the musicians, with fine pianist Sean Fyfe that recalls Jess Stacy, drummer Dave Laing and bassist Mike De Masi. Never rigid, he cultivates a bit of complexity and shines thru with his harmonics on his compositions such as One Fort Pete and Jiro’s Dream. Nice work that listens like a charm.

You can hear Sam at the St-Henri jams sessions at Pub Epoxy every Sunday night.

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

 Lucioles - Théâtre magique

June 29, 2017

To see things a bit - or even a lot - out of the box, you can trust pianist Guillaume Martineau. The one that was the Radio-Canada Jazz Revelation in 2015-2016 takes us on a unique adventure. Like the french title says, this is magical theatre, exploring somewhere in between jazz, traditional music and some bewitchments. Before unraveling the whole thing, Tuesday July 4th at L'Astral for the Montreal Jazz Fest concert with his ten musicians, here are our first impressions.

Ten original pieces with poetic titles such as : Exode, Prélude rustique, Chemin du retour or Garde-fou, this concept is a work in progress. Inspired from our culture, jazz and it's more or less avant-gardist forms, the result is surprising, sometimes disconcerting. To achieve his goal, our friend, always on top of things, is surrounded by a solid group.

On the drums and the musical saw, Robbie Kuster, François Jalbert on the guitars, Simon Pagé on the bass and the theremine, as well as Érika Angel and Mélanie Bélair that wrote the string arrangements. You can imagine that with all those musicians and instruments, the concept grasps many things and creates moods and atmospheres, without it being esoteric. It'll be interesting to see this new release and how it will pan out for all...

To see our video of Garde-fou in quartet formula, filmed at the Quai des brumes June 5th, that's here

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

 Janis Steprans Quintet - Ajivtal

June 15, 2017

I've been following alto sax player Janis Steprans for the last 25 years. Mainstay of Vic Vogel's great orchestra at a certain period, this musician that can play in so many styles is a well-kept secret. Over and above what's in vogue and the passage of time, his fine playing makes for some great jazz that will please many. For this Ajivtal, a reference to the land of his ancestors, the nine tracks at hand are jewels as well as fine lessons on how jazz should be played.

On Shades of White, this is real nice playing with Janis expressing himself in a fluid and strongly nuanced playing. Although he's an altist, we discover his soprano playing with some Coltrane intonations on Luna’s Tune, which is, once again, a nice piece of work. Janis knows how to surround himself, being with pianist Geoff Lapp, bassist Adrian Vedady, drummers André White/Kenton Mail as well as surprising guitairist Gabriel Hamel.

Master of the ballads, Chambre No. 5 is is the perfect space to play in different tonalities all that can do a sax player that masters his instrument. Without it being world music, Suites de thèmes lettons is a nice exercise for the alto with some beautiful and precise phrasing, rather than a long wordy discourse. Like I said before, beautiful!

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

 Gentiane MG Trio - Eternal Cycle

June 1, 2017

With the festival season just around the corner, album launches abound. A McGill graduate with a Master's, pianist Gentiane MG makes her entrance on the Montreal scene with her first album, Eternal Cycle. After having played with Jim Doxas, Frank Lozano and Dave Laing, she beckons us to discover some of her musical thoughts. On 8 powerful tracks, marked by a strong inner feeling, and it's good, she brews up a thinking person's kind of jazz. Far from a Ahmad Jamal or Erroll Garner, he soft approach creates a nice space for the art of the trio. This intimite brand of jazz requires attentive listening and is defined by some very melodic lines, connecting her with accomplices bassist Levi Dover and drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel.

Similar in spirit to pianist Jérôme Beaulieu, as well as some scandinavian jazz, the dynamics are in the interstices. Deepening the groove, with a bit of dissonance, but this ain't Monk, she offers a singular vision that however is not mine. If I recognise the accomplished work as being a bit scholar, the lack of swing make the listening too linear.

Gentiane MG Trio presents three concert launches for Eternal Cycle.

Friday, June 2nd 8:30pm at the Conservatoire de musique du Saguenay (Chicoutimi)
Thurday June 8th 8pm at Upstairs (Montreal)
Wednesday June 14th 8pm at Maelstrom Saint-Roch (Québec)

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

 Steve Amirault - Hold On, Let Go

May 18, 2017

Well-known by the Montreal public and the world of jazz, pianist/singer Steve Amirault - now living in Toronto - has got more than one trick up his sleeve. With Hold On, Let Go that goes back in time, we dive right into the realm of standards that made a certain era. Is is age or that period that beckoned our friend Amirault to revisit Moon River, Embraceable You, or Lullaby Of Birdland ? Maybe not, because if you read the linear notes, his mother are in his thoughts on Just Believe.

In a certain way, the pianist/singer chose the way of simplicity, to express certain feelings, but also as a tribute to certain pieces that have become a base for all musicians. If the spring heat on its way and the need for tenderness takes a hold on you, run to your record store or go directly to for this beautiful album.

Slowly but surely, because you've go to take your time, as we enter into Steve Amirault's universe. He charms and moves us with What A Wonderful World, Embraceable You or the unavoidable Lullaby Of Birdland made finest by the great Sarah Vaughan. Knowing well his trade, he plays the chords such as on All Of Me, but also croons us with a lot of good taste. Oh, and there's another surprise with Pennies From Heaven, which reminds us to what point pianists Art Tatum and Errol Garner were essential. On Hold On, Let Go, Steve Amirault sings with happiness as well as nostalgia. Bravo !

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

 Jonathan Turgeon Trio & Frank Lozano - Les rêves errants

May 4, 2017

Once again let's make some room for new talent, namely pianist Jonathan Turgeon and his trio. Like his first album this is very personal project containing eight tracks and that highlight the very coltranian tenor sax Frank Lozano, in alternance. In regards to the leader of this project who is a fine melodist, Les rêves errants will give you an idea of his vision of jazz. Jonathan Turgeon draws beautiful melodic lines that reconnect to the spirit of Bill Evans, while the bassist recalls the great Elliot Zigmund with a lot of finesse.

We know saxophonist Frank Lozano thru his numerous engagements and recordings, and this new release is a great visiting card for the blower, who's greatly influenced by John Coltrane as well as by the great David Murray. Throughout the tracks, you'll discover and hear the spirit that rises from his playing supported like it should be by friend Jonathan and his accomplices Hugo Blouin on bass and Jean-Philippe Godbout at the drums.

If the composition Métamorphose pt. 1 is not the best idea to start this new release, you can make it up with Barrage that highlights all of the talent of this fine band. Tracks 6 (Le compteur) and 7 (Silence radio) that are also focused on the art of the pianist and his trio that lead us to expect the best, without rewriting and re-inventing the genre. Like the saying goes, small is beautiful.

Jonathan Turgeon
, piano
Hugo Blouin, bass
Jean-Philippe Godbout, drums
Frank Lozano, tenor sax

For the bandcamp page, that's here

They'll be in concert Friday May 5th at the Café Frida in Trois-Rivières, Saturday May 13th at La Petite Boite Noire in Sherbrooke and at Quebec City's Bar Ste-Angèle May 25-26, for more info, check out our Outside Mtl calendar here

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

 Parc-X Trio - Dream

April 20, 2017

As I'm writing this, Parc-X Trio is right in the middle of a European tour. Ever since they started we've followed this trio that turns ten and celebrates with a 7th album : Dream.  Lovers of jazz as well as new sounds, without going against a certain tradition, Parc-X Trio in my humble opinion is a refreshing trio that bridges a certain classicism with modern sounds, appealing to a younger crowd. After having seen them at least four times in different festivals, their music is always up to the challenge, without it being commercial.

With Dream, pianist/keyboardist Gabriel Vinuela, bassist Alex Lefaivre and drummer Alain Bourgeois follow their quest, with summerish sounds. Is it the use of the Fender Rhodes, the brilliant compositions or the alliance of the three artists, but this new release is right on, once again. We listen with attention and bang, we land on NGU. Yes there is a familiarity with Chick Corea's Fiesta, with the three friends using with brio the art of the trio. On a question-answer mode, the hard-hitting drummer drives the bass lines while the keyboardist's playing soars softly over the bright harmonics. On track 3 we dive right into their Swan Lake (Tchaïkovski) in a rock metal version, while Dream, the title track, says it all. Talking about the summer, Sun will give you wings and if you pay attention, once again, we're convinced that Parc-X Trio listened to Chick's La Fiesta. The only thing missing are the horns. Now this is a nice spring surprise.

For the EPK of the project, that's here

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

 Félix Stüssi et Les Malcommodes invitent...

April 6, 2017

September 24-25 2016 at the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur the rambunctious trio : pianist Félix Stüssi, bassist Daniel Lessard, and drummer Pierre Tanguay had a few friends over. This hard to refuse invitation was recorded to produce this album, and the result is particularly surprising. A fine pianist somewhat in the footsteps of Bill Evans with certain Erroll Garner intonations, Félix Stüssi is a trustworthy musical companion that cultivates the art du trio. For this unique event were invited a few friends, and probably some of the best Montreal musicians. On the reeds and on the flute, saxophonists André Leroux and Jean Derome, on the trombone, fabulous American guest trombonist Ray Anderson, trumpeter Jacques Kuba Séguin and singer Sonia Johnson for whom scatting and Ella's eloquence has no more secrets.

For this event, Félix wrote 11 invigorating tracks that all stand out from each other. As it's the case in many musical adventures, he created a space for each to express themselves and they took it up. A the heart of this circle of men, singer Sonia Johnson is captivating (Bley On!), makes for a singular use of french in jazz (Debout au bout du Bout-du-Banc), and gets into bop swing  (Don’t You Ever Give Up playing Be-Bop!). For the blue note, Félix and his friends invested themselves with time and the architecture of the compositions. Slowly but surely, you'll give in, keeping the rhythm on the 1st track Fore-Bley, admire the ease of flutist Jean Derome and the art of the trombone with Ray Anderson, master of the « plunger ». Let's hope we'll soon see them in a Festival!

To see the project EPK, that's here

To see Don't You Ever Give Up That Be-Bop, that's here

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

 Éric St-Jean - Résilience

March 23, 2017

What a nice surprise that reminds us that spring is just around the corner. Unknown to me, although he's been on the jazz scene for a while, pianist Éric St-Jean is an artisan with a certain talent. After five years of hard work, he launches Résilience. As this is a first for me, unless my memory fails me, this release contains a few tasty morcels to be savoured slowly. On six tracks that total over 40 minutes, he expresses his pianistic playing as well as the art of the trio.  Supported by two powerful and creative sidemen, namely drummer Martin Auguste and bassist Simon Pagé, the group is tight.

In between Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett in his best period, namely Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Blue Note), Éric St-Jean also presents a very personal discourse on six of his compositions. We understand very well that throughout Résilience, he tells the story of his life as well as the life of a musician. With Atterrissage that opens a pandora's box, we're faced by a solid piece, supported by a strong right hand playing that draw superb melodic lines, interacting with the musicians, and it must be said, Simon Pagé's great bass lines. No comments on Bienvenue dans le spleen as we can very well imagine the ups and downs of a life that's not that easy, while The Wheel, with the help of the Fender Rhodes brings a touch that reminds us of the fusion period of the 70s. So you'll easily understand this release is a little gem, just like the pianist.

For his Facebook page, that's here

To see Éric playing Sunny, it's here

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

 Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble - Swingin' With Oscar

March 9, 2017

After his heartfelt tribute to pianist Dave Brubeck and his music, alto saxophonist Rémi Bolduc revisits the universe of canadian jazz giant, pianist Oscar Peterson. Discovered by powerful american producer Norman Granz on a fateful cab ride at the end of the forties, Oscar Peterson became the house pianist for the impressive record label Verve. After that critical meeting, he hob-nobbed for five decades with the gotha of jazz. Influenced by Erroll Garner, the little boy from Saint-Henri was a figurehead of a brand of jazz rich in swing, straddled in between swing and be-bop.

Knowing Rémi Bolduc and his rigourous approach on his musical projects, this Peterson affair will, without a doubt, make its mark on a wide public. Shimmering from one track to the next, saturated in swing like in the good old days (I'm nostalgic!) this new release has got some promising times ahead. Surrounded by a solid band including the very petersonian pianist Taurey Butler, Fraser Hollins on bass, Dave Laing on drums, and tenor sax Chantal de Villiers on The Count, this machine is well oiled and running smoothly. And off we go on trip to the land of Oscar where standards abound. More Parkerian than ever, Rémi offers us a beautiful jam session just like in the fifties, with the musicians right at home in this very familar turf as well as having a great time sharing these pieces that have stood the test of  time. Without copying, but like a real nod of the head to the master of the piano, we listen once again with indefinable joy : Place St-Henri, The Touch Of Your Lips, Bossa Beguine, I’Ve Never Been In Love Before or the unknown Laurentide Waltz.

If they're in your neigbourhood, buy your tickets and you won't regret it.

And speaking of that, they'll be in concert Wednesday, April 12th at the Maison de la culture de Gatineau.

To see Riff Blues, that's here

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

 Bélanger & Bisson - Conversations

February 23, 2017

A while back and in another life as we say, singer / pianist Anne Bisson was an actor. Converted to jazz, she's managed to make her mark and her own space on the five continents. In a mode where the genres range from song, to ambiance music to, of course, jazz, she offers us Conversations with cellist Vincent Bélanger, as well as double bassists Jean-Bertrand Carbou and Jacques Roy, singer Charlotte Bélanger and harpist Isabelle Corriveau, on a few tracks. As there is a multitude of sounds and moods, it's hard to categorize this album.  Without it being a catch-all, because it's very nicely produced, we enter a realm that will certainly reach a very large public.

For example with the popular sounds of composition Fly Away or Rêverie sentimentale that highlights the deep sound of the cellist. There's also some chamber music with Dédéthoven by pianist and composer André Gagnon, and then there's the strange Fantasia For Morel. For some blues/funk, the very nice Wake Up will turn up the heat of these winter months. All throughout the tracks, Anne Bisson is  a pleasant singer and pianist, with some pretty swing riffs and a major influence, the world of Michel Legrand. Without it being a curiosity,  Conversations aims music lovers of all kinds yet fails to turn us on.

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

 Carlos Jiménez Michel Héroux - Voices

February 9, 2017

This new release is a great way to thaw out this February winter freeze. In duo, guitarists Carlos Jiménez and Michel Héroux, both teachers, unveil with Voices, their work and know-how. Even thought you'll hear many jazz riffs, this new opus might be best described as latin or world, not unlike what Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia had done way back. Furthermore the eleven tracks are also reminiscent of that trio's work. Without pretence and with a lot of smoothness, the music of these masters of the six strings will make their way into your subconscious, helping you face the February winter blahs.

Without being a specialist of the guitar, we liked, but without succombing to the charms of these exotic pieces. In a classical format, Voices deserves attentive listening. In a random order, you'll appreciate the subtleties of the pieces like Samba, Bobby, Waltz for Kenny or the intro piece : Atravès do Tempo. To sum it up, these guitar aces and their music convey a feeling of a voyage, of a trip, and even more, with rhythms we don't hear much on this side of the Northern Hemisphere.

To see Blues For Jim filmed at the Montreal launch, it's here

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

 Christine Jensen Ingrid Jensen - Infinitude

January 26, 2017

In the introductory notes, jazz critic James Hale relates to the feeling of nordicity, dear to pianist Glenn Gould. In a certain way, he's perfectly right, because the Jensen sisters, Christine Jensen, on the alto sax, and her sister Ingrid Jensen on the trumpet, are the embodiement of a Canadian brand of jazz that stretches from Vancouver to Montréal, with a side order of NY. This is also a tribute to a few of our local giants, such as pianist Paul Bley and guitarist Sonny Greenwich, ok that should give you a hint about Infinitude, an album devoted to jazz and all that it entails including know-how and lots of time...

To add to the soundscape the two sisters invited guitarist Ben Monder, as well as bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer John Wikan. Like a magnetic pole, Christine Jensen blows modern riffs that could recall Shorter. Ben Monder's playing is powerful and his presence is far from useless. Sometimes a rock riff, he reminds me right away of a certain Robert Fripp (King Crimson), the connection is made in between all. Giving it all she's got, Ingrid quickly finds her space on the trumpet, with electrified accents reminiscent of Miles, playing a mesmerising tonality, almost metaphoric. Take your time to listen to this work for attentive ears. I bet you they'll play the Mtl Jazz Fest.

Tracklisting :

1 - Blue Yonder (C. Jensen)
2 - Swirlaround (C. Jensen)
3 - Echolalia (B. Monder)
4 - Octofolk (C. Jensen)
5 - Duo Space (I. Jensen)
6 - Old Time (K. Wheeler)
7 - Hopes Trail (I. Jensen)
8 - Trio - Garden Hour (C. Jensen)
9 - Margareta (C. Jensen)
10 - Dots And Braids (I. Jensen)

But in the meantime, it's the NY launch of Infinitude at the Jazz Gallery, Friday, Feb. 17th @7:30pm

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

 Cerbère Jazz - Entêté

January 12, 2017

In this era where music is more and more dematerialized, where's is harder to emerge and stand out, these young turks dive in "head on". When yours truly gets a nice message from the band with the predestined name Cerbère Jazz : (gardian in greek mythology), it's worth some attentive listening. With Mäiko Dubuc at the piano, Rémi Morissette on guitar, Christian Pamerleau on the drums and Sébastien Pellerin on bass, the young quartet launched last October Entêté. Like it often is, no standards here, but 11 very personel and poetic tracks, played with finesse. Very Bill Evans in its soul, with a dash of Hank Jones, a bit of Chick Corea (Now He Sings, Now He Sobs).

In our humble advice pianist Maïko Dubuc takes the palm with his fluid and constant playing, without forgetting his collegues. His playing, without necessarily innovating harmonically, has a brilliant sound and singular touch, like on the title track Entêté, as well as on Mouvement perpétuel. Also, when you listen a bit you might find there is certain kinship with the MISC trio, of pianist Jérôme Beaulieu. Supported by his companions, his phrases breathe and are witness to the intelligence of the matter at hand.

If the art of trio is often scrutinized, we can say for sure that these four musicians have got future ahead, as long as you give them your support, that little extra that helps our local and emerging talents, it must be said.

And why not do it at their next concert, Sunday, January 29th at 3pm @ Centre Culturel de Pointe-Claire, 176 Chemin du Bord-du-Lac  514-630-1220

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

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Win a pair of tickets for MachiNations by saxophonist Yannick Rieu Thursday Oct. 17th at the Théâtre Outremont!

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