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JazzBulletin   -   Thursday March 15 2018 to Saturday March 31 2018

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The Big Band de l’Université de Montréal gets jazzy with Chris Potter, world-renowned saxophonist and composer! Wednesday, March 21, 7:30 p.m., Salle Claude-Champagne.

Chris_Potter_150X150.jpgThe Big Band de l’Université de Montréal, conducted by Ron Di Lauro, is pleased to welcome renowned saxophonist Chris Potter at a concert that will showcase his compositions for jazz big bands.

Having collaborated with Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Ray Brown and several other luminaries, Chris Potter emerged as a brilliant leader and composer in his own bands, most notably the Underground Quartet. As an ensemble conductor, he has 15 albums to his credit and has collaborated on more than 100 others as a guest soloist. These multiple collaborations have led Chris Potter to integrate into his jazz compositions many influences : funk, hip hop, country, traditional and classical.

The emergence of Chris Potter as one of the most dynamic young players in jazz has been fascinating to behold.” – Chicago Tribune

The musicians of the Big Band are sure to outdo themselves alongside this exceptional musician!

Salle Claude-Champagne, 220, avenue Vincent-d’Indy (Édouard-Montpetit métro). Tickets: $12 (free for students). Admission (1 855 790-1245) or on sale at the door. For the Facebook event, it's here

Interview with great saxophonist and composer Chris Potter who'll be in concert with the Big Band de l'Université de Montréal, March 21st, and who'll host two masterclasses.

Chris Potter sourire 150x150.jpgThis prestigious concert  will present works for big bands and large jazz orchestras composed by Chris Potter that renew in a singular way the big band's repertory. The 20 musicians of the Big Band de l'Université de Montréal will also team up with M. Potter who'll be guest soloist.

It's difficult for me to say all the good things I think about Chris Potter. He's one of the most accomplished musicians that I know and each moment I've shared on stage with him were absolute hapiness - Pat Metheny
CT - So how is that switching from playing with Underground (Adam Rogers, Fima Ephron, Dan Weiss) for a few weeks to coming and playing and teaching with the students of the University of Montreal and it's Big Band March 21st?

CP - You know I work with a lot of different projects and they each require switching mindsets a bit, but because I've worked on the music, it's all familiar. It's just me that's reacting differently in different situations, and the fact that what we do is largely improvised are the skills that work in this kind of situation. So that's the name of the game anyway. We'll be playing music that I've written. The most challenging thing is that I haven't met any of the musicians yet, you know when you play with familiar musicians you've worked with them before sorf you're kind of on a team. But here this is different I'm by myself and everyone's kind of looking at me, so it's a bit more pressure to figure out what needs to be said, how to navigate in new relationships and make some real music. I know the level of musicianship here is quite high so that's interesting.

CT - You had a unique musical sharing experience with trumpeter Red Rodney when you arrived in NY at of your many was that?

CP - That was in 1989 when I joined his band. I'm from South Carolina, and so when he came to South Carolina to play for a festival and that I had told him I was coming to NY he gave me his number and asked me to call him and so I did and he offered me to join his band. That was an amazing experience to get a chance to work with someone who was in the 1st generation of bebop, who played with Charlie Parker and really knew that music, bebop being the fondation of everything that came after it. He had a real knowledge of bebop, those tunes and the language. And we all need something to build on and to extend the jazz language. So having that chance and working with that master when I was 18 was amazing.

CT - And how different is that relay today?

CP - Each generation learns from the preceeding generations but you know I didn't work and play with Louis Armstrong and those guys and I'm sure there's a lot of information lost from on generation to the next. But there also information gained, things that musicians have been working since then. I still think that it's important for young musicians to learn from generations before thru recordings. There's really a lot to know from the jazz tradition from the earlier generations.

CT - And then you also played with Steely Dan...did that have an impact?

CP - That's music that I was familiar with having grown up listening to it. They went on the road in 1993 or something like, I was 22 and joined them, but they'd hardly been on the road being mostly a studio band. Frontman Donald Fagen came to see the Mingus Big Band in which I was and it worked out, it was just one of those fluke things you know...I was thrilled to play with them and see how they worked. They've created many musical milestones in the history of american rock'n'roll. Of all the amazing collaborations I've had over the years, this one was like having front row seats seeing how this music is being made.

CT - You write music for other musicians, how do write differently in that case?

CP - Usually when I write for a project I'm thinking about the musicians in the band, and because I play in projects that very in size and instrumentation it creates a different space. I'm trying to write stuff that we can sink our teeth into, that will strech us, but also use things that these particular musicians I play with get involved in like David Virelles and Joe Martin. When I'm writing for a big band that a more abstract situation no knowing who's actually going to play. And there are challenges in managing a large ensemble, it's something I haven't done a lot of.

CT - What repertoire will you be playing the the Big Band?

CP - Some of it will be from a record I did a few years back with the Danish Radio Band, and maybe some never-released stuff with the WRD Big Band,  

CT - What do you get out of teaching?

CP - It's always interesting to see the frame of reference that they have and the things that they're listening to. I always find that I learn something. Whenever you teach something you have to understand it in a certain way to be able to communicate it. Getting to know young musicians, where they're from, what they're listening to, things that are difficult, things that they need to undertand, gives me new energy as well. It goes both ways.

CT - In your personal practice, do you usually improvise on a standard unaccompanied as you demonstrate in masterclasses?

CP - Often yes, maybe it won't be as full as a performance where I'll make sure it goes from start to finish over a period of time, I'll stop and work on things. A lot of the things that I work on, I work on the context of working on standards because that's the lingua franca of jazz and that's what I started doing. So if I'm working on a rhythmic or sonic idea, it often is over a standard.

CT - Do you find it important or even essential for the jazz saxophonist to integrate this practice in his study routine? Why?

CP - I think to be able to play within the jazz language and expand from that yes you need to work on standards, know that languague and understand that harmonic world and the phrasing and the sound. There are other ways of making music that don't rely on standards, even with jazz music now. To do music in line with what it is that I do, yes, it's completely needed to be able to have a lot of familiarity with the language of standards, the language of bebop, the whole rhythmic, harmonic and melodic structures that's developped around that. Absolutely.

CT - How was it working with ECM vs smaller labels?

CP - It's been a great association, not different from any other recording situation, I have a lot of freedom. There's a certain thing that Manfred Aicher brings to the studio, a certain aesthetic and it's hard to say how it affects the music...but he does it and he does it well. He has very good ear for that.

CT - After bebop in the 40s, free in the 60s, fusion in 70s and odd meters later on, can jazz still go thru another major change ? do you see a new form of jazz emerging?

CP - I see that it keeps evolving. That's the thing about jazz music, the borders of what jazz is and what's not is very fluid. As culture changes and new music happens there's people working in areas that include jazz, some are closer to the classical field, there's jazz and hip-hop, there's kind off everything under the sun, different world music. I feel like it keeps expanding and growing. I don't think you can that's it's growing in one particular direction but in many different directions. Of course everyone looks at Miles, coltrane and Parker like a golden age and it's not as cohesive as that nowadays. I think there's a lot of amazing musicians playing in jazz.

CT - Any young and upcoming saxophonists that we should look out for?

CP - Ben Wendel, Jaleel Shaw, Marcus Strickland, I'm going to feel bad after I hang up because many will come to mind...

CT - Tell us about a really WOW moment playing...

CP - It's really hard for me to remember one particular gig where everything came together...there's just too many. There's that feeling when everything is right on and that the music flows thru you and you never really know when that's going to happen. Those moments happen more now that what they used to be. And it can be pretty much everyday that I play. Of course the first time I played with some of my peers, like at the North Sea Festival with Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. Those are memorable situations.

CT - What do you listen to on your iPad?

CP - There's a huge range. It goes from Montiverdi, Stravinski, Brahms, Aretha Franklin, Kendrick Lamar, classical indian music, african music, all kinds of stuff. The more music you listen to, the more your references evolve and grow as well. It's all part of a big musical world.

Interview : Claude Thibault (with the help of Thiago Ferté)
Chris Potter and the Big Band de l'Université de Montréal
Wednesday March 21st 2018, 7:30pm Salle-Claude Champagne - 220, av. Vincent-d'Indy / Montréal (Édouard-Montpetit Subway) 12 $, free (étudiants) or on sale at the door. Info: 514 343-6427. Masterclasses :  Tuesday March 20th 4:30pm Salle Serge-Garant of the UdeM / Thursday March 22ndSalle Claude Champagne of the UdeM

Randa and the subtle thrills on Wednesday March 21st at Salle Claude-Léveillée of the PdA, in a Quintet formation.

Randa beret 150x 189.jpgWith her velvet voice and fragile phrasing, Randa was able to seduce many audiences with her particular tone. She's performed at different international events whether at the Womad Festival in the UK, for the opening of the Asian Games in Qatar or at NY's Blue Note. Frequently accompanied by fantastic jazzmen, among them pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who appeared on her two albums Moon Breeze and Subtle Thrills along with legendary bassist Michel Donato from our Montreal scene. Whether in trio or with the Dizzie Gillespie All Star Big Band, her repertoire is always elegant and exotic due to the many languages she performs in.

Randa performs regularly in  Montreal jazz clubs but will deliver an intimate concert at the Salle Claude-Léveillée of Place des Arts Wednesday March 21st along with remarkable musicians such as pianist Taurey Butler, bassist Éric Lagacé, Wali Muhammad on drums and Cameron Wallis on the saxophone. Quite an intense moment in which a selection from her four recorded albums will be revisited. A citizen of the world but originary from Lebanon, Randa will interpret her oriental rendering of Caravan to which she put Arabic lyrics that sounds as a tale of 1001 nights. An evening of magnificent blue notes sparkled with many jazzy thrills.

To see the excellent video of Whatever Lola Wants, it's here

Randa - Jazz Thrills

Taurey Butler, piano
Éric Lagacé, bass
Wali Muhammad, drums
Cameron Wallis, sax

Wednesday March 21st 8pm
Salle Claude-Léveillée
Place des Arts (tickets)
175, rue Sainte-Catherine W
514 842-2112

Makaya's creole jazz, Tuesday March 20th at the Petit Outremont.

Makaya 150x132.jpgMakaya, a Montreal creole jazz quintet, reconnects with the public Tuesday March 20th at the Petit Outremont, on the first day of Spring.

Bandleader David Bontemps, a classically-trained musician, wanted to collaborate and work with other artists and genres. So he turned to other musical expressions, utilizing a combination of his talents as a composer and blues pianist as well as his connection with musicians that have a caribbean sensitivity and created Makaya, free from constraints and genres.

The band plays a mostly instrumental and acoustic repertoire, without drums, for lovers of jazz and caribbean music. This music, which is in the family of jazz, is an ideal space without boundaries, where Makaya can stand out and show us where creole jazz is heading. Makaya, which is the name of the highest moutain in Haiti, is a reflection of new heights and momentum that makes the band always want to go to further.

Winner of the Vision Diversité Prize in 2016, 2010 finalist of the Grand Prix Jazz TD, Bronze medalist in World Music for the 2007 Syli d’Or, Makaya released their first self-titled album in 2009. With the help of a grant from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec in 2016, Makaya launches their 2nd opus : Elements, in collaboration with Montréal en Lumière.

Is it the highest expectation of music that attracts the public from concert to concert, to hear them once again and to share, a beautiful night of camaraderie and musical pleasure?

Let the magic happen Tuesday March 20th at the Petit Outremont!

David Bontemps, piano
Jude Deslouches, guitar
Nicolas Bédard, bass
Emmanuel Delly, percussions
Cydric Féréol, Gwo Ka and percussions

To see the video of Gwog Mwen, it's here

For more info,
Tuesday March 20th 8pm
Petit Outremont of the Théâtre Outremont
1248 Bernard W

CDJAZZ by Christophe Rodriguez

Ensemble Gaudreault Turgeon - Jonctions

I feel spoiled these days. After flutist François Richard's magnificent album, the duo of guitarist Samuel Gaudreault and pianist Jonathan Turgeon do their thing with the release of Jonctions. In many of my last CDJazz articles I've often mentionned the lack of swing, the abstractness of some very intelligent compositions that sometimes sound too academic, well this is not the case. These two young musicians know their jazz history well, and you'll discover music that stands in between the Jazz Messengers and the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Let's start with the opening track : La maison de verre. The message gets thru, the band is united and congrats to very smooth bassist Alex Le Blanc that tells a story. Let's talk about guitarist Samuel Gaudreault. I'm sure our friend has listened to Jim Hall a few times as well as Joe Pass, another giant. In Novembre, he very gently introduces the theme and then connects with the other band members. Throughout the tracks you'll hear trumpet players Lex French and Christopher Kerr-Barr, saxophonist Alex Dodier, the finesse of drummer Eric Maillet, and let's not forget pianist Jonathan Turgeon, probably one of the most brilliant pianists of the younger generation. As always, no standards, but no complaints because we discover these finely crafted compositions : La forge, On verra, or L’homme plante. Bravo.

La maison de verre / Novembre / Truyard pt.1 / Truyard pt.2 / L'homme plante / Pièce à géométrie variable / La forge / On verra /

Compositions : Samuel Gaudreault and Jonathan Turgeon

To listen and buy,

on iTunes

Two launches ;
Sherbrooke : Saturday March 17th @ 5pm at l'Irisium, for the Facebook event, it's here
Québec : Wed March 28th @ 5pm, at the District St-Joseph, for the Facebook event, it's here

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

TVJAZZ  October 8 2010
Chris Potter Quartet at L'Astral - Jazz All-Year Round, Oct 8 2010

This Sunday March 25th, composer and saxophonist Joel Miller and his Large Ensemble present What You Can’t Stop - Music for large ensemble at McGill U.

Joel Miller Why You Can't Stop 150x150.jpgTwenty years after his first opus Find a Way, saxophonist Joel Miller takes up a new challenge by presenting the result of working with composer John Rea for two
years. What You Can't Stop - Music for large ensemble is the name of this new project (and inspired by a chance encounter of a crab on a beach) he's presenting this Sunday with his large ensemble, a band that joins student and professional musicians and that could be described as a small orchestra without strings.

Joel Miller's award-winning discography includes the 1997 Grand Prix of the Montreal Jazz Fest, a Juno in 2013 for contemporary jazz album Swim, as well as a East Coast Music award in 2016 for Dream Cassette. A savvy mix of folk, pop and afro-latin/contemporary explorations, Miller has renewed his inspiration giving way to this new music.

Feeling the need to bring more body and texture into his compositions, he's taken up a two year challenge to enrich his melodic and polyphonic range, and to find himself a new composer's shell, larger than the previous one. So it's with sixteen musicians that he'll surprise us this Sunday with the result of his musical  metamorphosis. A unique event not to be missed!

For more info,

The event on FB, it's here

What You Can't Stop - Music for large ensemble

Conductor, soprano/tenor sax : Joel Miller
Vocals: Jeanne Laforest, Sarah Rossy
Flutes : Rachael Cohen, Pierre Mendola
Clarinets : Kenji Bellavigna, Julie Olson
Bass Clarinet : Jennifer Bell
French Horn : Flo Rouseau
Trumpets : Bill Mahar, Lex French, Hannah Boone
Trombone :  Alexandre Lavoie
Soprano/tenor Sax : Jeremy Sandfelder
Piano : David Ryshpan
Acoustic Bass :  Fraser Hollins
Pitched percussion : Dylan Cohran
Percussion and drum sets: Sacha Daoud, Kevin Warren

Sunday March 25th @ 8pm
McGill University - Tanna-Schulich Hall.
527 Sherbrooke O
Mtl, QC
Benjamin Goron :
Facebook / twitter

Give your routine a break and get away for a Jazz Escapade in New York to see cuban pianist Chucho Valdés & Irakere 45 at the Blue Note (and more), Friday April 27th to Sunday April 29th 2018 with Claude Thibault of

Chucho 150x150_v2.jpgJoin Claude Thibault of and Steve Pelletier of Boutique Aventure for an all-jazz weekend Friday April 27th to Sunday April 29th in New York, the mecca of jazz.

Things get going Friday April 27th with cuban pianist Chucho Valdés & Irakere 45 at the Blue Note, mythic witness to the great moments of the history of jazz. 45 years ago Chucho Valdés created Irakere, a revolutionary group that introduced african rhythms to cuban music, for two videos of Chucho and Irakere, it's here (short) and here (long).

The next day, Saturday April 28th, in the afternoon, we'll have our own guided walking tour of Harlem, a hot spot of jazz, revitalised and witness to a current renaissance, starting at the site of the iconic 1958 photo, A Great Day In Harlem. That evening we'll discover three Greenwich Village jazz hotspots ; Small's, the 55 Bar (Mike & Leni Stern) and the Zinc.

The weekend package includes :
•Two nights at a Manhattan hotel
•One ticket for Chucho Valdés & Irakere 45 at the Blue Note
•A private guided waltour of Harlem and it's mythic venues
•The services of two guides - Claude Thibault and Steve Pelletier
•Montreal - NY round trip by private bus

Friday April 27th
afternoon : arrival in NY
evening : Chucho Valdés - Irakere 45 at the Blue Note (check out this Irakere 45 video here)

Saturday April 28th
afternoon : guided walking tour of Harlem
evening : visit of jazz clubs Small's, The 55 Bar, The Zinc, etc.
end of evening at Times Square

Sunday April 29th
A must-be-done Central Park walk
afternoon : Return to Montreal

The event of Facebook, it's here

Info  :  Claude Thibault -
Info, rates and reservations : Steve Pelletier of Boutique Aventure Voyages 514-842-4139
Rate : $899 per person (double occ.)

TVJAZZ  April 28 2011
Jean-Marc Hébert Quintet "L'Africaine" April 28th, 2011

TVJAZZ  October 8 2011
Jean-François Groulx Trio - Serengeti at L'OFF Jazz 2011

TVJAZZ  November 7 2017
Yoel Diaz Cubarteto - Occasion - launch at the Balcon, Nov. 7th 2017

TVJAZZ  January 19 2018
Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers - CongaDanza - January 19th 2018 @ Panama Jazz Festival

TVJAZZ  March 21 2018
Randa - Whatever Lola Wants - en concert le 21 mars 2018 Salle Claude Léveillée

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Maison du jazz février 2018