Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 7, No. 2, 2008

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Phil Nixon
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat

2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101 (featuring David Binney) Montreal Jazz Festival 2006 EMI Classics







Piano Keyboard

from Montreal




© Marcel Dubois of David BinneyDepending on your orientation, the first sign that spring is in the air usually catches the notice of either the eye or the ear. Which means if you're the kind that gets unwound by sound, you'll have already reserved seats for Jazz En Rafale, the first of Montreal's many jazzfests that have turned the city into one of the world’s premier jazz destinations.

Spearheaded by Alain Bédard and Carole Therrien of the Effendi label, the festival, now in its 8th year, dedicates itself to keeping alive and well the spirit of 'pure' jazz, featuring mostly home grown talent and special guests such as Paul McCandless, who come from far to play with the city’s best.

For the younger musicians, the Jupiter-Vandoren Competition that is© Marcel Dubois of Alain Bedard integrated into the overall program makes Jazz En Rafale the most important festival of the year. Up and coming groups are invited to submit their material after which five combos (trio, quartet or quintet) are chosen to open up for the main act. The group judged to be the best gets to record a debut album with Effendi, so you can imagine the quality of original material and superb playing and listening such an event inspires. And when you’re young and impressionable, getting to rub shoulders live with those you have admired at a distance is no small honour. It goes without saying, the exposure is priceless for both musician and audience since it is from their ranks we are introduced to the next generation of jazz stars. This year's selection set a precedent that will be difficult to better; the top notch musicianship and sometimes madly inspired original material belied the age of the performers. As far as my ear was concerned, they all deserved a place on the podium, and in some cases, depending on the kind of jazz you like, they were at least equal to the main show.

© Marcel Dubois of Sylvain ProvostPrior to the memorable, closing concert delivered by the magnificent Yves LeveilleDavid Binney, festival highlights were provided by especially Sylvain Provost, whose irrepressible lyricism and inventive guitar puts him at the very top of his game right now, and the no-frills playing and composition of keyboardist Yves Léveillé.

If David Binney isn’t already the most compelling name is modern jazz, he is surely a lesson on what modern jazz can (should) be. Assuming big-bang leader JoeSullivan and his army of maddening improvisors© Marcel Dubois of Andre Leroux were in the audience (their attendance should have been compulsory), they would have learned from Binney that the most important note in the repertoire is silence, that making music has nothing to do with trying to squeeze 64 1/32nd notes into a second, and that when you treat melody like it’s virus, the entire score (stripped of its human agency) rings false.

What has been lost, or sacrificed on the alter of modernity among too many jazz musicians is the sacred trust between soloist and audience. When the soloist has something to say, what is said will have a beginning, middle and end, a logical flow and directionality that even the untrained ear cannot miss. A solo is not a permission to indulge in primal therapy, blow off angst or revel in virtuosity. If the admonition “you’re never too old to learn” still holds, Joe Sullivan and his misdirected soloists are exhorted to get back to basics, to that sacred inner flame from which all authentic music issues. So if it’s a common complaint among local jazz musicians that they’re not getting the notice they deserve, it’s in part because audiences are not suckers for composition and playing that masquerade as music.

To spend an evening with David Binney is to sign up for a journey that, like life itself at the end of the long day’s night, is sure to break you down and beat you up along the way, but at the same time, it promises to leave you stronger and wiser. Making music and life intertwine is Binney’s confession of what he’s all about as a human being, which is what audiences connect to, the result of which would be significantly diminished if it weren’t for the remarkable participation of his fellow musicians. From Thomas Morgan on bass, we learn that the bass solo need not be a ‘let’s get this over with' interval. Minimalism in the visual arts might not be your cup of tea, but Morgan makes his minimalist bass solos sing like a lead instrument.

© Marcel Dubois of Dan WeissThe most arresting revelations of the evening were sculpted by gifted percussionist Dan Weiss, who just might be one of the very best in the world. In the spirit of Aldo Romano, conceptualist par excellence, Weiss, on a dime, could change the entire dynamic of the music without drawing attention to how and what he was doing: at any given moment he might tap out a feeling using table knives on the cymbal, or flutter his bare fingers over the drum skin. From Dan Weiss we learn that there are no limitations to what a drum kit can deliver once the necessity to produce a particular sound or concept is recognized and embraced.

When the concert ended, there was no call for an encore, such was the satisfaction level generated by a series of remarkable compositions, several of which are featured in the CD Welcome To Life. As for the sublime conclusion to the evening, it redounds to Binney’s highly evolved relationship with his musicians that they are always encouraged to engage as creative co-equals in the privileged undertaking of making music.

Jazz En Rafale, which translates into gusts of jazz, was just that – music ushered in on the welcome winds of spring that spring eternal.

© Marcel Dubois of Karen Young



John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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